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KEEPING TABS / DANA HADDAD

Aztecs' Gutierrez Down and Out

October 13, 1994|DANA HADDAD

A brief but brilliant college stint ended, a possible NFL career was jeopardized and the hopes of a team were dampened when San Diego State quarterback Tim Gutierrez suffered a shattered left collarbone Saturday in a 38-22 defeat to Utah at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

"I feel sick for the young man," Aztec Coach Ted Tollner said of Gutierrez, a senior from Santa Clara High who had thrown for 1,566 yards and 11 touchdowns but is lost for the season.

"When you go into your senior year with high expectations and all of a sudden it's over . . . I felt sick when it happened," Tollner said. "The guy's worked too hard."

Gutierrez started only 14 games at San Diego State after replacing injured David Lowery in 1993, and he became the 11th quarterback in school history to pass for more than 4,000 yards (4,740). He finished with the second-highest completion percentage (62%) and had 36 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions.

"All our hope, offensively, was on his experience and his ability," said Tollner, whose Aztecs are 2-4 after starting 2-0. "He was having a good year, and we felt at any time he could move to another level to where he could have an outstanding year."

Gutierrez was rolling to his right, looking for a receiver, when he was hit from behind by Utah defensive end Bronzell Miller (6 feet 4, 245 pounds). Miller body-slammed Gutierrez to the turf, the quarterback's shoulder taking the full force of the impact. Gutierrez was taken from the field to an operating room at nearby Mercy Hospital, where surgeons performed a bone graft and fit a metal plate to reassemble the quarterback's clavicle.

"I'm pretty down," Gutierrez said this week. "It's going to be tough to recover, because of where I was headed in my career. I still have dreams of getting to the (NFL). But this is a major setback.

"I was getting a lot of letters from agents saying I was one of the top 10 quarterbacks. Ten quarterbacks usually go in the top three rounds. Maybe Tollner can help."

Tollner, who has coached in the NFL in Buffalo, San Diego and with the Rams, in fact, called the Gutierrez family in Oxnard and said, "I will find a place for him somewhere."

Against Utah, Gutierrez had completed 13 of 16 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown when he was injured with 1 minute 22 seconds left in the first half. Just 98 seconds earlier, Gutierrez threw his last pass as an Aztec--a nine-yard strike to Ken Overby for a touchdown that tied the score, 7-7.

His 36 scoring passes tie him for sixth at San Diego State. Among those who rank higher are Dennis Shaw, Brian Sipe, Dan McGwire and Don Horn, all of whom played in the NFL.

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Injury and insult: Gutierrez wasn't the only area player San Diego State lost Saturday to a season-ending injury. Sophomore running back Freddie Edwards (Antelope Valley High) suffered a broken right leg and sprained ligaments in his right ankle on a 14-yard gain in the fourth quarter.

Edwards, the Aztecs' second-leading rusher (18 carries, 83 yards) had three carries for 34 yards and a six-yard reception before he joined Gutierrez in the hospital.

"He was my next-door neighbor," Gutierrez said. "I saw him go into surgery."

Sophomore kicker Peter Holt (Antelope Valley High) wasn't injured, but he lost his job after missing a 19-yard field-goal attempt that would have given San Diego State a 3-0 lead. His replacement, sophomore Matt George (Canyon), missed a 40-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. Holt has made only five of 11 attempts this season, his longest from 32 yards.

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Carter upstaged again: Throughout his four years at Arizona, senior running back Ontiwaun Carter (Kennedy) has either shared the spotlight or been overshadowed by the likes of Chuck Levy and Billy Johnson.

"I've worked hard, but I've had to rotate," said Carter, who has 3,000 yards in his Wildcat career, 371 shy of all-time leader Art Luppino's school record mark. "All those years my family and friends would say, 'Someday you'll be the guy.' Now I'm definitely showing what I can do."

But Carter was upstaged again Saturday in his greatest game at Arizona: 224 yards in 36 carries, 56 yards on eight receptions. The Wildcats (4-1) were upset by unbeaten Colorado State, 21-16.

"It really put a damper on (my performance)," Carter said. "I went in there and played my heart out to try to bring us back. We had planned to go undefeated. It's my senior year and I'm taking it to heart."

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Around the country: Senior wide receiver Curtis Marsh (Simi Valley/Moorpark College) of Utah is fourth in the WAC in receiving yards (403 in 27 catches) and leads in touchdown catches with six. Marsh had 116 yards on eight receptions against San Diego State, including a 20-yard touchdown that opened the scoring.

Fresno State senior free safety Lance Thomas (Crespi/Moorpark College) is eighth in the WAC in tackles (58) and is tied for fourth in interceptions (three).

Carter ranks second to Washington's Napoleon Kaufman in the Pacific 10 Conference in rushing (141.2 yards per game) and all-purpose yardage (164.6). . . . Weber State junior quarterback Bryan Martin (Granada Hills) threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns in a 62-37 loss to Northeast Louisiana State.

Senior middle linebacker Scott Blade (Canyon) of San Diego State is the team's second-leading tackler with 46. . . . Pacific has moved senior Howard Blackwell (Hart) from running back to reserve wide receiver. He has four receptions for 41 yards. . . . Tufts junior quarterback Greg Peters (Harvard-Westlake) completed 12 of 19 for 252 yards and one touchdown in a 27-7 victory over Bates.

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