How about them Cowboys?
That’s the question the San Diego State football team was left asking after Saturday’s game against Wyoming.
The Cowboys went into Qualcomm Stadium as heavy underdogs and left as the victors by a score of 30-27.
Teams never lose because of one play or player, but senior kicker Abelardo Perez’s missed field goals proved costly.
Perez missed an extra point in the first quarter and both attempts at the game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter.
The team dominated the second half but looked as if it lacked focus in the first half.
Wyoming came into the game as a double-digit underdog, and many people expected SDSU to win — except Aztecs head coach Rocky Long, who during the week praised Wyoming and said it was a good football team.
His message didn’t make it to the team, which appeared to have overlooked the Cowboys.
After sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman scored on a 71-yard touchdown pass to give SDSU a 13-7 lead in the first quarter, Wyoming outscored the Aztecs 23-0 for the rest of the half and put the Aztecs in a hole that proved too big to overcome.
“For some unknown reason people didn’t give Wyoming the credit they deserve,” Long said. “Wyoming is a good football team. I guess everybody knows it now. Nobody wanted to admit it going into the game.
“Whether you think the stuff that our players hear or see matters or not, it does. They hear the same things that I hear and they read the same things I read and they see the same things on the Internet and everything else. We have to be a more mature football team so none of that bothers us.”
Perez misses opportunities
After Hillman caught his 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Perez missed the extra point.
With 11:37 left in the fourth quarter Perez missed a 39-yard field goal wide left that would have tied the score at 30.
Still down 30-27 with 1:55 left in the game, Perez missed wide left again from 27 yards out.
Add all those together and its seven points left on the field for SDSU. If Perez would have hit one of those field goals, the game would have gone to overtime.
It would be easy to blame Perez for the loss, but senior quarterback Ryan Lindley knows it’s time to pick up his teammate.
“He’s our teammate, we have to bring him up,” Lindley said. “It’s not about a guy missing a field goal at the end of the game. It’s a team effort. We just have to play better. We’ll rally around him and that’s what we should do.”
Tale of two halves
The Aztec defense was atrocious in the first half. Long said so himself.
“That’s as bad as a defensive performance in the first half that I’ve ever been associated with,” Long said.
SDSU gave up 396 yards and 30 points in the first half. That’s enough yards and points for a whole game.
In the second half, the defense shut out the Cowboys, surrendering only five first downs and 106 yards.
It looked like a completely different Aztec defense in the second half. Cowboy freshman quarterback Brett Smith, who dominated the first half, was constantly pressured and wasn’t making the same plays he was in the first half.
The defense executed better in the second half, adjusted to the speed of the game and gave the offense enough time to make the game close.
What more can be said about Hillman?
The sophomore ran for 224 yards and two touchdowns, while catching two passes for 81 yards and another touchdown.
His electrifying 99-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the longest play in school history.
Hillman also eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark during the game; he has now rushed for 1,057 yards this season.
In addition, Gavin Escobar had a career day with 95 yards receiving. He also scored a touchdown, his fifth of the season, which is also a career high.