The Star-News


Local college bowl games sizing up opponents as season passes midpoint

Sat, Nov 02 2013 11:28 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents

San Diego State University's Oct. 26 football game against 15th-ranked Fresno State at Qualcomm Stadium bristled with a star-spangled pre-game salute to the military and halftime homecoming ceremonies.

It also marked the only game in the nation that day pitting two unbeaten conference opponents in a conference match-up. The visiting Bulldogs carried a 3-0 conference record into the key Mountain West Conference-West Division contest while the Aztecs entered the game with a 2-0 conference record following victories against Nevada (51-44 in overtime on Oct. 4) and (27-20 at Air Force on Oct. 10).

The match-up was noteworthy enough to receive national exposure on ESPN2.

In a pre-Halloween contest that wasn't particularly pretty on the field, Fresno State grabbed sole possession of the MW-West Division lead following its 35-28 overtime victory in front of 32,707 fans – a sizable number of them Fresno State supporters.

SDSU head coach Rocky Long called Fresno State an “excellent team.”

“They're one of the top three or four offenses in the country,” Long noted. “They score a lot of points and throw for a lot of yards. They have great athletes on both sides of the ball, and an outstanding quarterback (Derek Carr) that I'm sure is being touted for the Heisman Trophy.”

Let's go bowling
With the expansion to 12 teams this season, the MWC has split into two geographic divisions: the MW-West and MW-Mountain divisions. At the conclusion of regular season play, the MW-West Division winner and MW-Mountain Division winner will meet in the conference championship game.

Boise State and Utah State are tied for the MW-Mountain Division lead with 4-1 conference records.

Conceivably, the Bulldogs could make a return trip to San Diego.

The ninth annual San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, set for Dec. 26 at Qualcomm Stadium, will pit the No. 2 selection from the MW against a bowl-eligible Army team. The Black Knights are currently 3-6 with three games remaining on their schedule.

Should Army fail to become bowl eligible with a sixth win, the MW opponent would likely be the No. 4 team from the Mid-America Conference, which also has a tie-in to the Poinsettia Bowl.

The 36h annual National University Holiday Bowl, scheduled Dec. 30 also at the Q, will match teams from the Pac-12 and the Big 12.

SDSU is riding a streak of three consecutive bowl game appearances. The MW has tie-ins to six bowl games in 2013: Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, all on Dec. 21, Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Dec. 24, Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 26 and Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Ft. Worth, Tex., on Dec. 30.

Unless a team from the MW qualifies for a BCS bowl game, the Las Vegas Bowl has the first selection of MW teams, followed by the Poinsettia Bowl (second pick), Armed Forces Bowl (third pick), New Mexico Bowl (fourth pick), Hawai'i Bowl (fifth pick) and Potato Bowl (sixth pick).

It appears as many as eight or nine MW teams could be bowl eligible this season, leaving some teams scrambling to find suitable post-season playing venues.

SDSU defeated the visiting New Mexico Lobos, 35-30, on Saturday -- to bring the Aztecs to 4-4 with four games remaining on their regular season schedule. SDSU plays its next two games on the road – Nov. 9 at San Jose State (4-1 in MW play, 5-3 overall) and Nov. 16 at Hawai'i (0-6 in MW play, 0-8 overall). The Aztecs host Boise State on Nov. 23 and close out regular season play Nov. 30 at UNLV.

San Jose State defeated UNLV, 34-24, on Saturday to remain one game behind MW-West leader Fresno State. Fresno State defeated visiting Nevada, 41-23, to remain undefeated on the season and in the MW-West lead.

In the post-season bowl chase, MW teams in the hunt include Fresno State (8-0 ), Boise State 6-3), San Jose State (5-3), Utah State (5-4), UNLV (5-4), Wyoming (4-4), San Diego State (4-4) and Colorado State (4-5). Nevada is 3-6.

Red and black
Fresno State led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter following a 10-yard rushing score by Isaiah Bruse. The opening quarter featured 16 incompletions between the two opposing quarterbacks. SDSU had the edge in total yards (99 to 72 but missed a 40-yard field goal attempt in an effort to get on the scoreboard. The Aztec defense allowed just nine rushing yards on seven attempts by the visitors.

SDSU tied the game on a 10-yard touchdown run by Adam Muema with 7:38 left in the second quarter. The play was set up by a 44-yard catch by Ezell Rffin two plays earlier.
The teams entered halftime tied 7-7 and exchanged touchdowns to end the third quarter tied at 14. Muema scored on a one-yard run to give the Aztecs a seven-point lead while Carr hit Devante Adams on an 11-yard scoring pass to knot the teams even on the scoreboard.

Carr and Adams connected on a 16-yard scoring play in the early minutes of the fourth quarter. The
game's outcome likely hinged on a controversial official's call less than two minutes later.

With the hosts trailing 21-14, Ruffin appeared to make a catch at the Fresno State 21-yard line. However, Jonathan Norton was judged to have caused a fumble on the play, with teammate Ejiro Ederaine returning the ball 78 yards in the other direction for a touchdown.

After a long review, the ruling was upheld on the field, though Long said he wasn't sure the call was correct.

That put the Aztecs down 28-14 with 9:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. It proved to be enough time for SDSU to rally in heroic fashion with two touchdowns in the waning stages of the game to tie the score. Aaron Boesch scored on a one-yard run with 8:54 left to make the score 28-21. Chad Young then scored on a 27-yard run up the middle with 6:15 left to deadlock the teams at 28.

The Aztecs then positioned themselves for a potential game-winning field goal but Seamus McMorrow's attempt from 37 yards out was partially blocked as time expired.

Fresno State scored on its first overtime possession as Marteze Waller scored on a one-yard run after a lengthy Bulldog possession.

SDSU failed on a fourth-down pass attempt into the end zone to close out the game.

Ruffin finished the marathon game with 10 receptions for 181 yards while Kaehler passed for 337 yards with one interception.

Carr passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns after a slow start

SDSU out-rushed Fresno State 170-43 and out-gained the Bulldogs 507-341 in total yards in a losing effort.

SDSU never trailed in its ensuing game against New Mexico, though the underdog Lobos managed to hang close and keep the game close until the ending when the Aztecs recovered an onsides-kick with 46 seconds to play.

Muema rushed for 233 yards and scored three touchdowns while Kaehler passed for 201 yards – 165 yards to Ruffin on seven catches.

Ruffin opened the game with a 75-yard TD reception on the Aztecs' first play from scrimmage and later caught a 24-yard scoring pass to put SDSU ahead, 21-10, with 4:54 left to play before halftime.

Muema's third TD of the game gave the Aztecs a 35-23 advantage with 1:50 to play in the fourth quarter but New Mexico tacked on a quick score on a 36-yard TD catch by Tyler Duncan to cut the Lobos' deficit to five points.


JC replay: Southwestern Jaguars extending winning streak
Southwestern College improved to 6-1, 4-0 in American-Mountain Conference play, after defeating Compton, 42-0, in a game played Oct. 26 at Olympian High School. SWC quarterback Frank Foster threw four touchdown passes – two to DeSean Waters and one each to Cameron Lee and Khari Kimbrough. David Eguiza also caught a scoring pass from William Long while Dominique Fuqua scored on a short run to round out scoring for the Jaguars.

Cedrick Agyeman rushed eight times for 86 yards to lead SWC ball-carriers while Fuqua gained 45 yards on seven carries. Kimbrough paced Southwestern receivers with 58 yards on seven receptions.

The Jaguars took a big step toward defending their conference championship after dealing host Mt. San Jacinto a 42-6 defeat on Saturday. Foster scored on a 20-yard rushing touchdown and passed 44 yards to Kimbrough for another while Rashad Ridley scored on a 38-yard pass from Waters, Agyeman, Diderot Nemorin each scored on short runs and Marcus Harris scored on a punt return.

Foster passed for 197 yards while Agyeman led SWC on the ground with 78 yards on 12 carries. The Jaguar defense racked up five sacks and one interception in the victory.

Southwestern remains in a first-place tie with Chaffey for the conference lead. Both teams are 5-0 in conference play, 7-1 overall. The Jags play at Victor Valley on Nov. 9 before hosting Chaffey on Nov. 16  in what could stand as the conference championship game.


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