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FLASHBACK: Aztecs Football Season Opener 10 Years Ago By Ken Ables

Rocky Long, Aztecs football Head Coach (2011-2019). Photo credit Ernie Anderson

Brady Hoke’s second 2nd season kicks off this weekend when the Aztecs host New Mexico State at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on Saturday. In the first Hoke 2nd season (2010), the Aztecs finished 9-4 with a Poinsettia Bowl victory over Navy, for the first winning season since 1998 and first bowl win since 1969. Brady parlayed that success into his “dream job” as head coach at Michigan.

So it was ten years ago that the head coaching position was open and up for grabs … well sort of.

San Diego State didn’t have to look very far to make their replacement decision a decade ago. The head coach job was offered to defensive coordinator Rocky Long. The Aztecs’ first opponent of the Rocky Long era back in that 2011 season: Cal Poly. No big deal, right?

The Mustangs were FCS, and the Aztecs led the series 13-11, with all of those wins coming when both teams were “College Division” programs (the precursor to D-2). But the last two games, FCS vs. FBS matchups played in 2006 and 2008, resulted in Mustang victories, inexcusable losses and a point of contention for much of Aztec Nation.

Wide receiver Colin Lockett. Photo credit Ernie Anderson

Rocky was not about to let history repeat a third time; the team and staff were focused on opening the season with a win over the Mustangs. I had the pleasure of playing golf with new assistant (at that time) Zach Arnett in the summer of 2011. I made a comment about how we should start with a win and he shot back: “Well, they beat you the last two times.” 

History did not repeat. The Aztecs won handily, 49-21. Ryan Lindley completed 15 of 27 passes for 203 yards, 4 TDs and no interceptions; Ronnie Hillman carried 28 times for 189 yards and 2 TDs; Colin Lockett added two more TDs with an 18-yard reception and 94-yard kick-off return. The Aztecs finished the season 8-5 and played in their second of 10 consecutive bowl games—which was something not seen or felt among the Aztec Nation faithful in a very long time. Hard to believe the euphoria of those season results are accepted only now as the bare minimum for our great Aztecs football program.

Quarterback Ryan Lindley. Photo credit Ernie Anderson

So how will the 2nd Hoke season this go around with the Aztecs start? Back in 2010, the Aztecs beat Nicholls State 47-0 in his first 2nd season.

The Aztecs are 10-1-1 all-time vs. New Mexico State in a series that dates back to 1936. The last Aggie win was in 1955, and the Aztecs have never lost a home game to them. The Aggies are an Independent FBS team that did not play in the fall of 2020. They played two games this spring, finishing 1-1, including a 43-17 loss to FCS Tarleton State.  Look for the Aztecs to keep that perfect home record vs. NMSU intact. 

Listen to our Sons of Montezuma Pregame Podcast Previewing the San Diego State vs New Mexico State game! Click below!

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Check out below for a flashback of the 2011 team highlights vs that Cal Poly team.

Click below to get your copy of GO AZTECS!
by Tom Ables. Photography by Ernie Anderson and others.


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