(Thursday, December 23rd)
Final Score: San Diego State 35, Navy 14
San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - Freshman Ronnie Hillman ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns, pacing San Diego State to a 35-14 rout of Navy at the Poinsettia Bowl.
Ryan Lindley completed 18-of-23 passes for 276 yards with two scores, one to Hillman. The Aztecs, who returned to bowl play for the first time since 1998, posted their first such victory since 1969. That year, the Aztecs topped Boston University in the Pasadena Bowl.
Vincent Brown caught eight passes for 165 yards and a TD for San Diego State (9-4), which gained its most victories in a single season since Claude Gilbert guided SDSU to a 10-1 record in 1977.
The Aztecs rolled up 555 yards of offense.
"In my time at the Naval Academy that offense is as good as I've seen," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Their defense played well, we couldn't convert down there in the red zone. Take your hat off to them, they beat us pretty bad today."
It was essentially a home game for the Aztecs with the contest going off without a hitch thanks to incredible preparation by Qualcomm Stadium workers. The San Diego area was doused by monsoon rains over the previous couple of days, and workers had to pump approximately 1 1/2 million gallons of water out of the stadium. It was essentially a lake Wednesday night, but was transformed into a playable field by Thursday afternoon.
Ricky Dobbs ran for 107 yards and a TD, while throwing for 147 yards and another score for the Midshipmen (9-4), who won their previous four contests.
Navy was behind by a TD going to the second half, but its attempt to tie the game failed despite having a 1st-and-goal at the nine. On fourth down from the three, Dobbs' pass was slightly too far in the end zone and off the finger tips of sophomore Bo Snelson.
"Down there on the goal line was a big momentum changer," San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said. "The defense stood up and did a tremendous job of pulling together. We bit a lot in that drive, but when it came time for them to put the ball in the end zone, our kids did a great job and kept them out. I think that's when the momentum started to change."
Lindley threw a 15-yard TD pass to Hillman on the opening play of the final quarter, extending the lead to 28-14.
The Aztecs later used a time consuming, 13-play, 80-yard march to seal the win with Hillman sweeping to the right for a one-yard scoring run with 6:07 remaining.
Andrew Preston picked off Dobbs deep in SDSU territory on the ensuing possession, and the Aztecs ran out the final four-plus minutes.
Hillman split defenders and scored on a 22-yard run nearly six minutes into the game. It became 14-0 when Lindley found Brown along the left sideline. The senior wide receiver eluded a tackler and dashed to the end zone with 4:08 left in the opening quarter.
Greg Jones caught a 30-yard TD pass from Dobbs in the opening minute of the second, but Hillman broke off a 37-yard scoring run with 3:15 left in the half.
Dobbs surged ahead for a one-yard score with only seven seconds left in the half, pulling Navy within 21-14.
San Diego State is 3-0 all-time against Navy...Navy owns a 7-9-1 bowl game record...Hillman carried the ball 28 times and Dobbs 24...Dobbs completed 8-of-15 passes...Dobbs came into the game needing 140 yards rushing to become just the seventh quarterback in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 yards in a season twice in a career...The teams combined for 514 rushing yards with San Diego State gaining 279.
12/24 00:10:34 ET