Aztecs blow out the Rams 41-17 in Fort Collins

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Aztecs blow out the Rams 41-17 in Fort Collins

by Anthony Reclusado, Senior Staff Writer

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It is not easy to make history and it was a struggle for the San Diego State Aztecs as they bucked the Colorado State Rams in Fort Collins, 41-17.

In their toughest Mountain West matchup this year the Aztecs (6-3, 5-0 MW) opened conference play undefeated in five straight matchups for the first time in Football Bowl Subdivision history and the first since 1967 when the time was guided by Don Coryell as a Division II team.

Donnel Pumphrey would add to the historic day with a 23-yard rush in the second quarter that would see him claim second on the all-time rushing list in program history passing Larry Ned.

Just as last week’s victory over the Utah State Aggies this game was decided by turnovers. In perfect symmetry the Aztecs would take down their second straight Mountain division MW opponent by forcing four turnovers, while boasting a clean sheet themselves.

SDSU could do no wrong in the second half as they scored on their first three offensive drives, including a junior defensive back Damontae Kazee pick-six that would put the Aztecs up 27-10.

With a struggling rushing game graduate transfer Maxwell Smith had his number called and he stepped up his team.

On the opening drive of the second half Smith went 5-for-6 and 70 yards with a 32-yard pass to Pumphrey up the seam to push the lead to 20-10.

Smith would have his best game as an Aztec going 11-for-14 and 180 yards, however, it was the key throws that made his play critical for SDSU.

Even though the Rams put up a valiant effort against Pumphrey on the ground they were unable to corral him all game. The junior would finish the day with 121 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

The final touchdown for Pumphrey would come on a 64-yard run that saw him juke a Ram player that opened a lane down the sideline.

However, this score was not indicative of how this game played out at least in the first half.

Where the Aztecs have rode their rushing game offensively in conference play that was not the case in the opening half as the Rams made it a point to stop Pumphrey and company.

Aside from a 23-yard scamper to the CSU 3-yard line from Pumphrey, he struggled to find daylight. On his other 14 carries he had to scratch and claw for 21 yards, however, he did score the first touchdown of the game.

Setup by a 41-yard kickoff return by sophomore running back Rashaad Penny, Aztecs offensive coordinator Jeff Horton opened his bag of tricks in the opening drive of the game.

On a play-action pass, graduate transfer Maxwell Smith found a wide-open sophomore Mikah Holder across the field and brought down on the CSU 16-yard line. Five rushes and a fourth-down conversion later Pumphrey punched it in for the 7-0 lead.

Offensively, the Rams made their presence felt early and gave the Aztecs a taste of their own medicine as they ran on 10 of their 12 first-drive plays. The final play of the drive resulted in a fumble by Rams’ senior running back Jasen Oden, Jr. inches away from the goalline.

On the Rams next drive redshirt sophomore quarterback Nick Stevens stepped up and showed his full complimentary of receivers. Stevens would go 3-for-3 on the drive with completions of 32 yards, four yards and a 35-yard completion to junior wide receiver Rashard Higgins to tie the game at 7-7.

Higgins touchdown came on the final play of the first quarter, which were the first points allowed by the Aztecs in the first quarter against a MW opponent.

CSU would not let up on their next drive as they attacked the Aztecs through the air and ground. However, the SDSU defense was able to find their footing and stuff the Rams on a 3rd-and-2 and force them to settle for a field goal.

Redshirt freshman Wyatt Bryan’s field goal from 44 yards out would put the Aztecs in their only deficit, 10-7, since beginning conference play.

Interceptions were the story of the latter half of the second quarter for the Rams as defensive backs junior Malik Smith and sophomore Kameron Kelly picked off CSU’s Stevens on back-to-back drives.

Hageman would be leading scorer of the first half for the Aztecs as he booted two field goals from 20 yards and 54 yards- tying his career long.

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