SDSU football still can’t capture that elusive Power 5 win

by Ryan Posner, Asisstant Sports Editor

It seems like a bad cliché or a broken record, but the San Diego State football program again missed an opportunity to knock off a Power Five school

This time it came on the road Saturday when Penn State beat the Aztecs 37-21 at the rocking Beaver Stadium.

It was a game of trends for the Aztecs (1-3, 0-0 Mountain West).

For the second straight week special teams was the most impressive unit on the field.

However, just like it has been all season, SDSU wasn’t able to hold onto a lead due to a lack of potency on offense.

Senior quarterback Maxwell Smith was 10-29 for 141 yards, while being sacked twice and stripped for a fumble that was recovered for a 71-yard touchdown.

The highlight of his day was a 19-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wideout Mikah Holder in the second quarter.

Junior running back Donnel Pumphrey struggled on the ground, carrying the ball 18 times for 56 yards against a continually stacked box of Penn State.

He did have four receptions for 51 yards, though, and found the end zone for a one-yard rush in the third quarter.

The nightmarish two-minute drill

SDSU’s special teams carried the team last week and kept the Aztecs in early parts of Saturday’s game when sophomore Rashaad Penny returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

But junior wide receiver Lloyd Mills, who was a key contributor on special teams last week, muffed a punt late in the second quarter that set up a Penn State touchdown with a little over a minute left in the second half, giving the Nittany Lions a a 20-14 lead.

The Aztecs then took the kickoff and proceeded to lose the ball on their first play of the drive when Pumphrey fumbled deep in SDSU territory.

Penn State junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg then tossed an 11-yard touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the half to give his team a 27-14 lead.

Two scores, both in the final two minutes of the half, which propelled the Nittany Lions to the win.

SDSU torched by another top-tier quarterback

Penn State lost both of its top two running backs, freshman Saquon Barkley and senior Akeel Lynch, in the first half.

That was no problem for them as Hackenberg threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

Just like when the Aztecs faced junior quarterback Jarred Goff and UC Berkley, they were exposed by another one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.

Two of Hackenberg’s touchdowns came during the final two minutes of the second half when his team pulled away.

Hackenberg beat the Aztec secondary deep on several occasions, the longest being a 46-yard toss to sophomore wide receiver Saeed Blacknall.

SDSU not a fan of the East Coast

The Aztecs have a tough time winning on the East Coast, winning just two times in 14 tries since 1969.

Their last win on the East Coast came at Army on Sept. 10, 2011, and the other was a win at Kent State in 1972.

This is the third straight season that the Aztecs have traveled to the East Coast.

SDSU took a 14-13 lead into the second quarter but crumbled at the end of the first half to give Penn State the lead.

The Nittany Lions never turned back and handed the Aztecs yet another East Coast loss.