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October 10, 2013
San Diego State rallies for 27-20 win over AFA
San Diego State media relations
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Quinn Kaehler threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and Donnel Pumphrey scored on a 10-yard run with 1:39 remaining, helping San Diego State rally for a 27-20 victory over Air Force on Thursday night in a contest that was played despite the partial government shutdown.
Down by 14 heading into the fourth quarter, the Aztecs (3-3, 2-0 Mountain West) scored 21 straight points to escape with the win after missing two extra points and a field goal. San Diego State is 2-151-1 in program history when trailing by 14 or more points in the final quarter.
Kaehler finished 15 of 26 for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Pumphrey had 117 yards rushing along with another 43 receiving and a score.
Backup Nate Romine scored on a 16-yard run and threw a 71-yard TD pass for the Falcons (1-6, 0-5) in a game they didn't know would even be staged until it was given the official go-ahead about 27 hours before kickoff.
Will Conant made two long field goals, including a 52-yarder that bounced in off the left upright. His counterpart, Wes Feer, had a field goal and an extra point clang away no good off the same left goal post.
When Kaehler hit Pumphrey for a 20-yard TD early in the fourth quarter to begin San Diego State's comeback, coach Rocky Long sent out backup kicker Seamus McMorrow, who made the extra point.
A few plays later, Kaehler found a wide open Ezell Ruffin for a 62-yard score. But McMorrow had his point-after attempt blocked by Troy Timmerman, making it 20-19.
After forcing the Falcons to punt, Kaehler marched the Aztecs down the field and Pumphrey punctuated the winning drive with a run up the middle for a score. Kaehler threw a pass to Tim Vizzi for the 2-point conversion.
The Aztecs have now won three straight to even their record. According to San Diego State, of the 45 schools that opened 0-3 since 2010, the Aztecs join only Houston (2012) as the only teams to even its record at 3-3 after six contests.
Just 40 days ago, Romine was buried deep on Air Force's depth chart. He moved up when Kale Pearson suffered a season-ending right knee injury in the opener and again after backup Jaleel Awini was declared ineligible by the academy.
Romine received the call to go in shortly after starter Karson Roberts came off the field in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury. Romine directed a scoring drive in his first series, capping it off with a 16-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
His 71-yard TD pass to Sam Gagliano was the longest by a Falcons QB in four years.
San Diego State controlled the clock and outgained the Falcons in the first half, only to trail 10-6 when Conant connected on a 48-yard field goal on the last play before halftime.
The Aztecs took an early lead after Kaehler found a wide open Eric Judge for a 44-yard score. But Wes Feer's extra-point attempt hit the left upright and bounded away. Earlier in the quarter, Feer's 37-yard field goal try clanged off the left goal post.
It was that kind of half for San Diego State. Adam Muema had a fumble, Kaehler threw an interception off the hands of Muema and Pumphrey was stopped at the 1 on fourth down by Air Force safety Christian Spears.
For a third straight week, the Falcons let a halftime lead slip away.
Hours before the contest, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the decision that football games and other sports will go on at the military service academies through the end of the month. The issue will be reassessed later this month if Congress has still not passed a budget to fund the federal government.
Air Force is off next weekend before hosting Notre Dame.
San Diego State NEWS