AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ A fourth consecutive losing
season. A brutal schedule that includes eight teams that could be
headed for bowls. Injuries to key players.
No one would have faulted San Diego State for giving up against
Air Force, but the Aztecs would have none of it.
James Truvillion scored on a 1-yard run with 58 seconds left,
and T.R. Tolver and Kassim Osgood combined for two NCAA receiving
records as San Diego State rallied to beat Air Force 38-34
San Diego State (4-8, 4-3 Mountain West Conference) took an
early 10-0 lead, struggled for two quarters then scored 21 points
in the final 9:54 to end a three-game losing streak.
``It was tough for our guys now,'' said San Diego State coach
Tom Craft, whose team ended a four-game losing streak to Air Force.
``We're a little worn down from a 12-game stretch, a lot of it on
the road. We weren't 100 percent healthy, but we just kept
battling, and our players showed a lot of heart and resiliency.''
Air Force (8-4, 4-3) all but clinched its first national rushing
title with 413 yards _ 538 total _ but struggled on special teams.
The Falcons missed a field goal and an extra point, and had three
mistakes on punts that led to 17 points for San Diego State.
``I think there were times we probably should've put them away
and we never did,'' Air Force's Chance Harridge said. ``We gave
them opportunities to believe and they started believing in
themselves, and there at the end they made the plays they needed to
win the game.''
Air Force seemed in control after Harridge's second touchdown
run late in the third quarter, but Joey Ashcroft missed the extra
point. Ashcroft also shanked a 30-yard field-goal attempt early in
the fourth that kept San Diego State within reach at 27-17.
San Diego State followed Ashcroft's missed field goal with an
80-yard scoring drive, capped by Truvillion's 2-yard TD run that
cut the lead to three points.
Air Force then gambled and failed on its next drive. Wanting to
take the momentum back, DeBerry went for it on fourth-and-1 from
the Air Force 42. Steve Massie appeared to have enough for the
first down, but Kirk Morrison stripped him, then recovered the
fumble at the 42.
``When somebody wants to go for it on fourth down against us, we
take offense to that. That's a challenge to us, and the guys rose
up,'' Craft said.
Osgood scored four plays later on a spectacular touchdown that
put the Aztecs up 31-27 with 5:23 left.
Lon Sheriff appeared to throw the ball up for grabs in the
corner, but Osgood leaped over two defenders, grabbed the ball with
one hand and still managed to get his feet down in the back of the
Harridge scored on a 35-yard run on an option right to put the
Falcons up 34-31 with 3:16 left, but San Diego State moved 58 yards
in 2:09 for Truvillion's game-winning run off right tackle.
``The offensive line basically dominated that last drive,'' said
Sheriff, who threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns in place of
injured starter Adam Hall. ``That's why we were able to move down
the field like that just, with the quick passing game and mixing
some runs in there.''
Tolver had 13 catches for 126 yards, and Osgood had 12 for 123
yards. The duo has 213 catches this season, one more than the NCAA
record for teammates. Nevada's Damond Wilkins and Geoff Noisy
(1996) matched the record set by Tulsa's Howard Twilley and Neal
Tolver and Osgood also have 2,928 yards, eclipsing the record of
2,774 set by Nevada's Trevor Insley and Cleavon Brooks in 1999.
Tolver has 110 receptions and Osgood 103, making them the 23rd
and 24th players in NCAA history with 100 receptions in a season.
``Obviously, their two wide receivers, like we'd feared coming
into the game, were a big difference in the ball game,'' said Air
Force coach Fisher DeBerry, who has 149 career victories.
Harridge ran for 117 yards and broke the NCAA single-season
record for touchdowns by a quarterback with 22. He scored on runs
of 6, 2 and 35 yards to break the previous record of 20 set by
Navy's Chris McCoy in 1997.
San Diego State 38, Air Force 34