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Perez, SDSU Aztecs to get their kicks in New Orleans Bowl Phillip Brents | Fri, Dec 16 2011 11:29 AM

While SDSU place-kicker Abel Perez has had a roller-coaster senior season, he and his Aztec teammates hope to end the 2011 Division I college football season on an up note when they engage the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in Saturday’s R+L Carrier New Orleans Bowl.

Kick-off is 6 p.m. PST at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The game will be telecast live on ESPN.

Perez, a former standout at Castle Park High School and Southwestern College, has two game-winning field goals to his credit — one each against Army (a 23-20 win on Sept. 10) and Colorado State (an 18-15 Mountain West Conference victory on Nov. 12) — but also wore the goat horns when he missed two fourth-quarter field goals in a 30-27 MWC loss to Wyoming on Oct. 29.

The disappointing setback to the Cowboys likely cost the Aztecs a chance to move up in the bowl picture, possibly even playing in next Wednesday’s San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl for the second consecutive season.

For the most part, Perez appears to have put the midseason downturn behind him. He kicked all five extra-point conversions in SDSU’s come-from-behind 35-28 non-conference victory against Fresno State in the Aztecs’ regular season finale Dec. 3 at Qualcomm Stadium.

He did have one 51-yard field goal attempt blocked in the first quarter but SDSU still managed to rally from a 21-0 deficit to claim the teams’ newly installed rivalry trophy, an antique oil can.

Perez kicked four PATs and a 27-yard field goal in a 31-14 MWC victory at UNLV on Nov. 26.  He booted five extra points in a 35-7 conference win against visiting New Mexico on Nov. 5.

On the season, Perez ranks second in team scoring (to running back Ronnie Hillman) with 59 points. The ex-Trojan/Jaguar has successfully converted 44 of 46 extra-point attempts but has only made five of 13 field goal attempts.

The latter statistic remains a bugaboo. On a more positive note, Perez has 24 touchdowns to his credit on impressive kick-offs.

Hillman leads the Aztecs with 20 touchdowns and 120 points.

Saturday’s appearance in the New Orleans Bowl marks the first time in the school’s Division I history that the Aztecs have qualified for back-to-back college bowl games.

SDSU defeated Navy, 35-14, to win last year’s Poinsettia Bowl.

The Aztecs enter the game with an 8-4 record while the Ragin’ Cajuns are also 8-4.

SDSU will be led on the field by El Capitan High School graduate Ryan Lindley, one of a number of homegrown players on the Aztecs roster. The senior quarterback rewrote the SDSU passing records this season. The Vaquero alum owns the school record for career passing yards at 12,277. He has thrown for 87 career touchdowns.

Lindley has passed for 2,740 yards and 20 touchdowns (against eight interceptions) this season.

The Aztecs have won four of their last five games and two consecutive to end the regular season.
“I think everybody is excited about where we are going,” Lindley said. “It’s going to be an awesome week and an awesome bowl game.”

With consecutive 8-4 seasons and back-to-back bowl game appearances, the 2011 SDSU squad has obviosuly set the standard for future Aztec teams.

 “We want to leave a legacy that this is a yearly thing and it’s not a surprise,” Lindley said. “We want to get to that point where we are in that talk with (MWC champion) TCU and (seventh-ranked) Boise State. That is the potential that is here and that’s the way we are moving. We’re looking to improve and get better every year. It’s great to see, it’s great to start and hopefully they keep that going next year.”

The Aztecs concluded MWC play 4-3 with setbacks to Boise State, No. 18 TCU and Wyoming.

Boise State (11-1) will play Arizona State (6-6) in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22 while the MWC champion TCU Horned Frogs (10-2) will meet Western Athletic Conference champion Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-4) in the seventh annual Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21 at Qualcomm Stadium. Wyoming (8-4) will play Temple (8-4) in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 17.

Overall, five MWC teams advanced to bowl games this season. Air Force (7-5) will meet Toledo (8-4) in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28 in Washington D.C.

This year’s Poinsettia Bowl will kick off at 5 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

It will mark TCU’s third appearance in the bowl game in five years. The Horned Frogs are 2-0 in previous match-ups after defeating Northern Illinois, 37-7, in 2006 and topping an undefeated Boise State team, 17-16, in 2008.

TCU is led by Tank Carder, the 2011 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP.

Visit the Web site at www.poinsettiabowl.net or call 283-5808.

San Diego’s premier bowl game, the 34th annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, will match 24th-ranked Texas against Cal-Berkeley on Dec. 28. Kick-off is 5 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Both teams boast 7-5 records.

“We feel so fortunate to have secured two of America’s most storied football programs for this year’s game,” Holiday Bowl President Chuck Wasker said. “We cannot wait to roll out the red carpet for these two teams and their throngs of fans. It will be quite a show.”

Cal features the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Mychal Kendricks. The Bears will be making their third appearance in the Holiday Bowl in the last eight years.

The Longhorns boast the Big-12’s top defense. Texas enters the 2011 Holiday Bowl battle-tested after playing three of the nation’s top four teams and six of the top 15 this season.

Visit the Web site at www.holidaybowl.com or call 283-5808.

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