The Daily Aztec

Penny runs wild in SDSU’s 35-10 season-ending victory over New Mexico

Rashaad+Penny+runs++the+ball+in+the+Aztecs+42-23+victory+over+Nevada+on+Nov.+18.
Rashaad Penny runs  the ball in the Aztecs 42-23 victory over Nevada on Nov. 18.

Rashaad Penny runs the ball in the Aztecs 42-23 victory over Nevada on Nov. 18.

Photo by Kelly Smiley

Photo by Kelly Smiley

Rashaad Penny runs the ball in the Aztecs 42-23 victory over Nevada on Nov. 18.

by Abraham Jewett, Assistant Sports Editor

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The first time San Diego State senior running back Rashaad Penny touched the ball, only a shoestring tackle kept him out of the end zone.

Penny’s 41-yard run was just the start of another big day for the FBS leading rusher, who ran for 203 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns to lead the Aztecs (10-2, 6-2 MW) to a season-ending 35-10 victory over the visiting University of New Mexico (3-9, 1-7 MW).

Penny needed 176 yards coming into his final home game to eclipse 2,000 yards rushing on the season, and he accomplished the feat after a 51-yard touchdown rush on the Aztecs’ opening drive of the second half, his second score of the game, gave the team a 21-0 lead.

“I wasn’t even thinking about it, I was just running like I always do,” Penny said. “Out there on the field just running behind my guy (senior fullback Nick Bawden) and my big offensive lineman. It’s a blessing though, I thank everybody who has been apart of it and it was fun. And I got one more left.”

Penny has rushed for over 200 yards in a school-record four consecutive games, and his 2,027 rushing yards this season trails only Donnel Pumphrey’s school record 2,133 yards in 2016.

SDSU became the first school in FBS history to have consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons with different running backs.

“I heard that was a record or something. We’re not in this for records. Well, except for one: we’re in this for winning games,” SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. “It’s a pretty unique program when you can win double digit wins year after year after year.”

The victory gave SDSU it’s third consecutive double-digit win season, and the team will now wait to find out what bowl game they are chosen to compete in.

“We want to play the very best competition we can play no matter where it is,” Long said. “We want to play the best competition we can play. That’s going to be up to a lot of other people besides us.”

The Aztecs finished with 463 total yards of offense, including 198 through the air and two touchdowns by redshirt junior quarterback Christian Chapman.

On the other side of the ball, the SDSU defense punished New Mexico for most of the game, holding the Lobos to only 52 yards in the first half and giving up 249 total yards to the visiting team.

“Definitely the way we wanted to end the season, especially at home it’s the perfect finish to the season,” SDSU senior safety Trey Lomax said.

The Aztecs went up 7-0 on their first drive of the game, scoring a touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Chapman to sophomore tight end Kahale Warring, after Penny’s 41-yard rush got the team past midfield on their opening play.

The pass wrapped up an eight play 86-yard drive and gave the home team a lead they never relinquished.

New Mexico had more success on offense in the second half after bringing in freshman quarterback Tevaka Tuioti, and scored its first touchdown of the game after a 62 yard pass from Tuioti to redshirt freshman wide receiver Jay Griffin IV got the Lobos to within 21-10 with 4:14 to play in the third quarter.

Tuioti completed 10 of 20 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown, but was picked off twice in the fourth quarter by Aztecs freshman safety Tariq Thompson.

“I’m really excited for (Thompson),” Lomax said. “He’s a true freshman, so the sky’s the ceiling for him.”

The Aztecs had a misstep  in the second quarter after Chapman threw an errant pass while being hit by multiple Lobos defenders, and was intercepted by New Mexico junior linebacker Jordan Flack.

Flack returned the interception 20 yards to the SDSU 46-yard line, but the Lobos could not take advantage of the good field position, and punted the ball back to the Aztecs after it’s third three-and-out on their first four drives.

The Aztecs were given new life on their final drive of the first half, when New Mexico committed a personal foul after a late hit out of bounds on Penny.

Instead of being forced to punt deep in their own territory, the Aztecs went on a 10-play 81-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown rush by Penny to give the Aztecs 14-0 lead going into the break.

After New Mexico started the second half with its fifth three-and-out in seven drives, Aztecs senior wide receiver Quest Truxton muffed a punt at the 10:54 mark of the third quarter to give the Lobos the ball at the Aztecs 31-yard line, which the team converted into a 46-yard field by senior kicker Jason Sanders for its first score of the game. 

The Lobos had a chance to get to within eight points with 13:10 to play in the game, but Sanders missed a 35-yard field goal kick wide right.

SDSU extended its lead to 28-10 on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Chapman to senior wide receiver Fred Trevillion, who took a long pass over the middle all the way into the end zone.

Sophomore running back Juwan Washington gave the Aztecs a 35-10 lead after his 60-yard touchdown run with 3:54 to play set the game’s final score.

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