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Aztecs stumble late and lose to Beavers 34-30

Aztecs stumble against Beavers lose 34-30 in the final minutes.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The Aztecs were close, so close to their first victory of the season, but they floundered late in the fourth quarter and handed the game to the Beavers.  The red & black played a flawless three quarters but blew a 13-point lead to lose 34-30 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Sean Mannion threw three touchdown passes and the Beavers out scored the Aztecs 20-3 in the fourth quarter.  Mannion completed 38 of 55 attempts for 367 yards, and the Oregon State rushing game was held to just 2 yards. The Aztec defense played very well, but tonight it was the offense that let team down.

This time it was Quarterback Quinn Kaehler who played well until the game was on the line. The junior made his first start and completed 16 of 24 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns after taking over the starting job when Adam Dingwell injured his back last week against Ohio State. But with less than 3 minutes left, Kaehler folded and threw two interceptions, the first a pick six to Steve Nelson who returned a bad throw 16 yards to give the Beavers the lead with 2:38 left in the game. And then another that ended the Aztec hopes for a victory.

Kaehler's fourth quarter performance was dismal, taking sacks and throwing two costly interceptions, all after San Diego State jumped out to an early lead by scoring on the opening possession of the game. Kaehler connected with Donnel Pumphery on a 23-yard pass to put the Aztecs on top 7-0 with 11:44 remaining in the first quarter.

Oregon State answered with a 1-yard run from Ward to even the score at 7-7 and widened the lead to 14-7 on a 2-yard pass from Mannion to tight end Kellen Clute.

The Aztecs tied the score on the ensuing possession when Kaehler threw an 80-yard touchdown to Colin Lockett on the first play of the drive. They took a 27-14 lead after Wes Feer added a pair of field goals, including a career-long 45-yarder, and Muema scored on a 4-yard run.

The Aztecs played flawless through the first three quarters and lead 27-14 until they collapsed. Overall, Rocky Long's team improved with the bye week, its really too bad that they could not finish tonight. They play New Mexico State next weekend in Las Cruces in hopes of getting their first victory of 2013.