SAN DIEGO — Memories may be beautiful at times, but most of the ones from San Diego State's 4-7-1 season of 1984 are too painful for coaches to forget.
Three losses will long be remembered by Doug Scovil and his staff. The Aztecs lost to UCLA, 18-15, and Oklahoma State, 19-16, on late fumbles and a missed field goal. They also lost to Cal State Long Beach, 18-17, when the 49ers scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:08 to play.
With those memories still lingering, the coaches were most pleased with the second half of Saturday night's 34-14 win over Long Beach in the season opener. After sputtering to a 10-7 halftime lead, thanks in part to a touchdown scored on a blocked punt, the Aztecs outgained the 49ers in the second half, 237 yards to 85.
"Obviously, we were very pleased with the second half," Scovil said. "Last year, we lost several games in the fourth quarter. Ever since, we've been talking to the players about playing 60 minutes of football. It sure was nice to see us come on after halftime."
Going into the game, SDSU coaches said experience was their biggest advantage. Sixteen of the 22 starters had started at least one previous Aztec game.
However, the game's key play belonged to freshman cornerback Alfred Jackson. He blocked a first-quarter punt that LeRoy Wardell returned two yards for a touchdown, giving the Aztecs a 10-0 lead.
"We've been telling people all about our experience," Scovil said. "But it was a freshman who made the first big play of the season for us. That may say a lot about our team."
There was much to be said for the Aztec defense, which held Long Beach's Doug Gaynor to 195 yards passing. Gaynor finished third nationally in total offense in 1984, passing for 354 yards in his '85 season opener against Utah State.
"What we tried to do was keep changing our coverage on every down," defensive coordinator Burnie Miller said. "We wanted to stop what he does best--throw the ball. He throws short and intermediate real well. I thought we covered well deep for the most part."
The Aztecs should have given three cheers for Delta College in Stockton. Two of Saturday's stars--Webster Slaughter and Wardell--were teammates at Delta in 1982-83. Slaughter had 5 catches for 114 yards and 1 touchdown against Long Beach. Wardell had the special teams touchdown and a tackle of running back Michael Roberts at the Aztec 20 that prevented a touchdown.
SDSU will play UCLA on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl. Aztec coaches were watching game films Sunday of the Bruins' late comeback to tie Tennessee, 26-26.
"They looked pretty good, particularly defensively," Scovil said. "They're a nationally ranked team, and they're better than they were last year."
The SDSU women's volleyball team proved it could play up or down to its competition in the Cal State Fullerton Tournament.
The Aztecs upset second-ranked USC in three sets, but were defeated in three sets by Arizona in the semifinals. It was Arizona's first win ever against the Aztecs. Liane Sato of SDSU was named to the all-tournament team.
SDSU will host the eight-team Michelob Light Aztec tournament Thursday through Saturday at Peterson Gym. The tournament features the 10th-ranked Aztecs and 16th-ranked Texas A&M.
The men's soccer team had been shut out in two of its first three games, so Coach Chuck Clegg had to be pleased with his team in the Rebel Roundup at Las Vegas. Though the Aztecs split two games, they scored four goals.