SAN DIEGO (AP) — Whether it’s in Colorado or San Diego, the San Diego State Aztecs are getting used to lightning delays when they play Air Force.
The result has been the same, too: an Aztecs win.
Ryan Agnew threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Parker Houston with 6:10 to go and San Diego State beat Air Force 21-17 Friday night in a game delayed 1 hour, 7 minutes by lightning.
The game featured four lead changes. The Falcons battled back to take a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but were unable to hold the lead, as San Diego State rallied back with the game-winning touchdown on the ensuing drive.
With the Air Force offense struggling early on, it was the defense that helped Air Force get on the scoreboard first. Falcon defensive lineman Jordan Jackson chased San Diego State quarterback Ryan Agnew on a pass play and Agnew fell back into the end zone for a safety with seven seconds left in the first quarter.
The defense set up the next score for Air Force (2-4, 0-3 MW) as well. San Diego State looked to be driving for a score, but junior Jeremy Fejedelem intercepted Agnew in the end zone to prevent the score.
The Falcons then drove 80 yards in nine plays, capped by a 12-yard run by Ronald Cleveland. The Falcons went ahead 9-7 with 5:13 to play in the second quarter. Highlighting the drive was a 42-yard run by fullback Cole Fagan.
The defense held the Aztecs scoreless on their next two drives and the Falcons looked to take the lead into halftime. That was not the case, as San Diego State blocked a punt and ran it in for the touchdown to go ahead 14-9 with eight seconds left before halftime.
The Falcons took advantage of great field position to go ahead in the fourth quarter, pinning SDSU deep and forcing a punt that gave them the ball at the SDSU 40. Key completions by quarterback Isaiah Sanders and another Cleveland rushing touchdown put the Falcons up 17-14 after the two-point conversion. Sanders was 4-of-5 passing on the drive and Cleveland capped the drive with a four-yard run. Sanders then found Cleveland with a pass completion on the two-point conversion to put the Falcons up three with 9:25 to play in the fourth.
Agnew then moved the Aztecs (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West) 94 yards in eight plays for the winning TD.
The Aztecs, coming off a big 19-13 victory at Boise State, won their fifth straight game since losing their opener at Stanford. They also beat Air Force for the eighth straight time.
A year ago, there was an 88-minute lightning delay at Air Force, and the Aztecs held on for a 28-24 win.
"What a coincidence," SDSU coach Rocky Long said. "It completely breaks up the whole rhythm of the game. And I thought it was a great game anyway, and it was going along just fine, so I think it kind of ruins the game, basically."
The Aztecs were about to start a drive with 5:50 left in the third quarter when lighting was detected within eight miles of SDCCU Stadium, leading to a 30-minute delay. There were more lightning strikes during those 30 minutes. Air Force players returned to the field briefly before heading back to the locker room, and another 30-minute delay began. It rained off and on from early in the game.
Agnew, a junior filling in for injured senior Christian Chapman, led the winning drive in front of maybe 500 fans left from an announced crowd of 25,326. He twice converted on third down, first on a 32-yard scramble and then on a 32-yard pass to Kobe Smith.
"That kid made two really fine plays on third down," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.
Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond was knocked out of the game with an injury late in the first half when he was tackled for a loss by Kyahva Tezino. Hammond was replaced by Sanders.
The Falcons, coming off a home win against Navy, dropped to 0-3 on the road this season, including 0-2 in the conference. Air Force is at UNLV next Friday night.
Story includes portions of an Air Force Academy press release on the game.