For the first time since 1967, when San Diego State football was still in Division II, the Aztecs are 5-0 in conference, after beating Colorado State 41-17 Saturday in Fort Collins.
The win didn’t come without some necessary adjustments in the second half by head coach Rocky Long.
SDSU was having trouble moving the ball on the ground and the CSU offense was moving the ball effectively on the ground and through the air.
So coming out of the half, the Aztecs dialed up more play-action passes to counter the CSU defense which was stacking the box.
Graduate transfer quarterback Maxwell Smith found junior running back Donnel Pumphrey with a 32-yard touchdown pass to give the Aztecs a 20-10 lead midway through the third quarter, and they would never back.
The offense wasn’t the only unit to make adjustments.
On the next CSU possession, junior defensive back Damontae Kazee intercepted his sixth pass of the season and brought it back 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the Aztecs a 17-point lead.
SDSU then pulled away thanks to a 64-yard touchdown rush by Pumphrey and a 16-yard rush by senior Chase Price.
Offense finding its groove
For the second straight game the Aztecs broke out for at least 40 points and over 400 yards of total offense.
The ground game struggled in the first half, with the only bright spot being a one-yard touchdown run by Pumphrey in the team’s first possession.
Smith started the party in the second half, though, with a touchdown pass to Pumphrey, then Pumphrey opened the flood gates with his 64-yard touchdown scamper.
Pumphrey finished with 121 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns on the ground, and added two catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
He moved to No. 2 on the team’s all-time rushing list in the first half, passing Larry Ned who had 3,562 career yards. Along with that, he also passed 1,000 yards on the season for the second time in his career.
Smith extended his streak of games without an interception at seven, going 11-for-14 with 180 yards and a touchdown.
SDSU had less than 100 rushing yards entering the half, but ended the game with 247 yards and 5.9 yards per carry.
Kazee has a stellar performance
It was a game to remember for Kazee who had the pick-six, seven total tackles and a forced fumble as CSU was marching into score.
Kazee’s six interceptions on the year is the most in the Mountain West and is the third-most out of Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
The defensive backs struggled to contain the CSU passing game in the first half, but helped the defense hold the Rams to just seven points in the second half.