SAN DIEGO (Sports Network) - True freshman Ronnie Hillman carried 24 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns and San Diego State was aided by the use of instant replay in a 27-25 win over 23rd-ranked Air Force.
Ryan Lindley connected on 14-of-26 throws for 247 yards and a touchdown for the Aztecs (4-2, 1-1 MWC), who defeated a ranked team for the first time since 1996.
Tim Jefferson completed 13-of-30 throws for 175 yards and a score, and was intercepted once, and ran for 88 yards while Asher Clark carried 19 times for 116 yards and a score the Falcons (5-2, 3-1), who had a three-game win streak snapped.
Trailing 20-12 with 9 1/2 minutes to play, Air Force marched 98 yards on 17 plays following a missed field goal to set up the dramatic finish. Nathan Walker dashed in from four yards away to make it a 20-18 game with 2:08 to play.
Forced to try for two to tie, Jefferson scrambled right on a play fake and then moved back to his left before drilling a pass to Clark, who caught the ball inside the two and bulled his way into the end zone to tie the game. The play was reviewed and overturned, as the officials ruled that Clark's knee had touched down before he broke the plane of the goal line.
Air Force attempted an onsides kick that was recovered by the Aztecs, who seemed to have put the issue to rest on the first play from scrimmage when Hillman found a crease and shot through the defense untouched 44 yards to give the hosts a nine-point cushion just eight seconds later.
The Falcons, however, moved right down the field and got a seven-yard scoring pass from Jefferson to Chaz Demerath that was upheld by review with 18 seconds to go to slice the lead back to two.
D.J. Shields recovered a second straight onsides kick attempt and two kneel downs by Lindley ended the game in which the teams combined for 939 yards of total offense.
The Aztecs took a 7-0 lead with just over 8 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half on a 65-yard scoring run by Hillman, who broke one tackle, made another tackler miss and then hopped over a Falcons defender to break free and cruise to pay dirt.
Erik Soderberg's 25-yard field goal with 3:52 left before the break made it a 7-3 game. The Falcons moved 62 yards in 11 plays but the drive stalled at the SDSU eight-yard line.
The Falcons drove deep into Aztecs territory again before the half but were stymied at the 13 after consecutive losses on the ground. Soderberg came on and booted a 30-yarder to trim the lead to one with 44 seconds remaining.
But, SDSU moved quickly back down the field and got a 23-yard field goal from Abel Perez on the final play of the half to take a 10-6 lead to the locker room. Brandon Sullivan's 29-yard catch and run was the key play of the drive.
The hosts pushed their lead to 17-6 with 7:49 to play in the third quarter on Lindley's eight-yard scoring toss to Gavin Escobar.
The Falcons responded with an 11-play, 65-yard drive that Clark finished with a 20-yard run. However, the run for the two-point conversion failed, leaving the visitors behind by five with 3:24 remaining in the period.
Perez added a 27-yard field goal with 12:48 to play to extend the Aztecs advantage to 20-12 before he missed from 19 yards away.