Aztecs Game Is a Present That Just Fits

A tie is like kissing your who? Your sister?

No way, buster.

That was not the way the San Diego State Aztecs felt when they awakened Sunday morning. They had to feel like they had kissed King Kong’s sister. And danced with her all night. And had her step all over their toes. And their hearts.

This may not have been a tie for the ages, but it was one for the computer age. It took a super computer to crunch all the numbers.


This was not one of those 0-0 or 10-10 ties, like Notre Dame-Army in ’46 or Notre Dame-Michigan State in ’66. This was a guns-blazing blast of a battle. This is the way things happen in the wild, wild Western Athletic Conference. Notice there are no D’s in Western Athletic Conference, because the D-word . . . defense . . . does not exist.

One of Saturday night’s participants, SDSU, scored 51 points in a game last year. And lost.

The other, Brigham Young University, once won a Holiday Bowl in which it trailed, 45-24, with less than four minutes to play.

There, in a nutshell, you have the story of Saturday night. SDSU scored 52 points this time and still did not win. BYU trailed by 28 points this time with 21:06 to play and did not lose.


This was a tie, size extra large. If it was a necktie, King Kong’s sister’s brother would have to wear it.

The final score was 52 times two. San Diego State won the first half, 35-17. BYU won the second half, 35-17. No one won the game.

The largest home crowd in SDSU history, 56,737, watched much of this game. I say that because more than a few folks departed early, undoubtedly to celebrate the demise of BYU as the king of the WAC. Surely, a 45-17 lead would be enough.

What’s more, the game was nationally televised. Note, however, that die-hards in the Eastern Time Zone would have to stay awake until 2:40 a.m. to see the finish. An awful lot of people in Bangor, Me., if there are a lot of people in Bangor, Me., awakened Sunday to learn they should not have fallen asleep.

This was not one for football fans as much for basketball fans. Pat Riley should have been in the broadcast booth. This was really showtime.

SDSU and BYU combined for 1,462 yards in total offense, averaging 8.7 yards per offensive play. Time of possession was irrelevant. The Aztecs had one possession that lasted 13 seconds, another that lasted 15 and a third that lasted 16. None were ended by turnovers. All three “drives” produced touchdowns. That’s moving.

Aztecs quarterback David Lowery completed 66.7% of his passes--26 of 39--for 568 yards and five touchdowns. He threw touchdown passes of 75, 80, 79, 15 (huh?) and 47 yards. In this very biggest of games, Lowery had the biggest game of any of the storied quarterbacks in SDSU history.

In the aftermath, he cried.


That’s right. Unabashedly and unashamedly, he cried.

“Nothing really feels good right now,” he said quietly. “We could have scored 110 points, but it doesn’t matter. There are 35 million ways we could have won the game. One more completed pass. One more first down. I don’t know what happened. I don’t understand how we didn’t win.”

Lowery’s lips were puckered in distaste. Ties have bad breath.

You see, every tie game has a winner.

Notre Dame won national championships after its celebrated ties in ’46 and ’66.

BYU won the WAC championship and a return trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl with this tie. The Cougars, unbeaten in the WAC, get the bowl bid unless they lose next week to Utah, Hawaii beats Air Force and BYU gets tripped up because of, voila, a tie -breaking formula. SDSU has a tarnish on its WAC record, the 21-20 loss to Air Force in a game it wished it would have tied.

Both teams understood these consequences. Combine that with the euphoria of one team overcoming a 28-point deficit and the other blowing the same and you have one locker room filled with bedlam and the other filled with gloom after a game in which neither side won.

SDSU Coach Al Luginbill, looking like a rumpled professor who had been up all night grading bad term papers, was morose. Understand this is a guy who can find a silver lining in a tornado. He went veritably door-to-door selling tickets last summer. He may be back on your doorstep today, saying he is sorry.


That was what he said early Sunday morning.

“The fans came to win,” he said slowly, “and I apologize for disappointing them. We didn’t do it on purpose. I’m just extremely disappointed that we didn’t come through for them.”

Maybe somewhere down the road Messrs. Lowery and Luginbill will come to see this game in a different and brighter light.

The fans already do.

I called one Sunday morning. He and his wife, both transplants from out of state without ties ( please excuse that word) to SDSU, went to the game. They stayed until the end.

That ,” he said, “was one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen so many unbelievable plays. Absolutely unreal.”

Indeed. This wasn’t a tie like the one Aunt Maude sent you for Christmas. This doesn’t have to go in the back of a drawer.

This game was as memorable as any the Aztecs have ever played.

Take this tie, baby, and wear it.

BYU 52, SDSU 52

NCAA Records Set

* BYU-SDSU 52-52 tie surpasses old NCAA mark of 48-48 set by San Jose State-Utah State on Sept. 8, 1979.

* Ty Detmer’s 1,740 plays in a career surpasses old mark of 1,722 by Todd Santos of SDSU, 1984-1987

* Detmer’s 940 completions in a career surpasses old mark of 910 set by Santos.

* Detmer’s 1,501 career pass attempts surpasses old mark of 1,484 set by Santos.

* Marshall Faulk’s 23 touchdowns in a season by a freshman surpasses mark of 20 set by Reggie Cobb of Tennessee, 1987.

* Faulk’s 140 points in a season by a freshman surpasses mark of 120 set by Cobb.

* Darnay Scott’s 243 yards receiving by a freshman surpasses mark of 220 set by Cormac Carney of Air Force against Georgia Tech in 1978