Pumphrey and Penny help SDSU punish the Spartans, 42-3


Katelyn Mulcahy

Junior running back Rashaad Penny scores his first of three touchdowns in the Aztecs’ 42-3 win over San Jose State Univeristy.

by Zach Engberg, Assistant Sports Editor

Junior running back Rashaad Penny ran unabated down the middle of the field, on the way to scoring his third touchdown of the night and putting San Diego State football up 41-3 as the clock ran out in the third quarter.

The play, which was the longest of the game for the Aztecs, encapsulated the night that they had, as the winners of what is now 14 consecutive Mountain West conference games defeated San Jose State University 42-3.

The win puts SDSU at 6-1 on the season, with a 3-0 record in MW play, making the team bowl eligible for the seventh straight year.

“I think we have improved each of the last three weeks,” head coach Rocky Long said. “Our team is a confident football team right now, and to be bowl eligible is a big deal to me a big deal to our team.”  

Penny’s final touchdown, which went for 73 yards, was just one of the Aztecs’ 44 rushes, for which they gained 293 yards.

Penny and senior running back Donnel Pumphrey both rushed for over 100 yards for the second time in three games. 

Penny rushed for 105 yards on nine carries and three touchdowns, finding holes that senior running back Donnel Pumphrey had trouble poking through.

Pumphrey, who finished the night with 135 yards and two touchdowns, was bottled up early on, as the Spartans stacked the box on every play, daring redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Chapman to beat them with his arm.

Chapman, never one to turn down a challenge, used play action to bring the Aztecs down the field for their first touchdown, a 3-yard pass to senior tight end David Wells.

Wells had a career day, catching five passes for 62 yards – all on the first two drives – consistently finding open spaces left by Spartan defenders looking for Pumphrey.

“We were talking a lot this week about how I can get lost when we are running play action,” Wells said. “I was just making sure I was doing my job by getting in the middle of the field and in [Chapman’s] line of vision so he could get me the ball.” 

That score started a run of three consecutive scoring drives for the Aztecs.

The next touchdown came from junior running back Rashaad Penny, who switched fields on his 3-yard rush to give SDSU a 14-0 lead. Penny set up the score with a 36-yard reception on the reliable wheel route, bringing the Aztecs to the 1 yard line.

The score was Penny’s eighth overall of 2016, second on the team behind Pumphrey.
Pumphrey joined the party on the next drive, using a block from senior wide receiver Eric Judge to vault him to a 27-yard touchdown, tying Marshall Faulk’s SDSU record of 57 career rushing scores.

The run ended when sophomore linebacker Frank Ginda intercepted a telegraphed pass to Penny, a turnover that would lead to a field goal, the lone score of the game for the Spartans, and one of only two trips to the red zone.

Pumphrey and Penny would continue to punish SJSU in the second half, wearing down the defense more and more each play.

Penny opened the third-quarter scoring with a 4-yard touchdown, putting SDSU up 28-3, before Pumphrey added his second score of the game on a 23-yard run.

That score gave Pumphrey 63 total touchdowns in his career, passing Marshall Faulk for best all-time at SDSU, and putting him alone atop the Mesa.

Despite his record-breaking night, Pumphrey shone the spotlight on his backfield mate, who led SDSU with 169 all-purpose yards.

“We’re able to stay fresh like that, when I can come out and [Penny] goes in and picks up right where I left off,” Pumphrey said. “That long run shows what type of player he is. That’s Penny for you.”

Penny’s 73-yard score was the final thrust to the body of SJSU, which suffered its worst loss of the season.

The Spartans gained only 209 yards, 100 coming in the final quarter, when they already trailed 42-3.

So far in MW play, the Aztecs’ defense has allowed only six offensive points, coming on two field goals.

Senior linebacker Austin Wyatt-Thayer spoke about his defense’s desire to keep team’s out of the end zone.

 “Nothing is better than a goose egg,” Wyatt-Thayer said.“But nobody has scored a touchdown on us in conference, and that’s one of our goals each game, so to accomplish that is a good feeling.” 

That goal was illuminated late in the game, when SDSU stopped the Spartans at the 9-yard line on a fourth down attempt.

“ I think it showed a lot of intensity down there when the game was out of hand that our players did not want them to score,” Long said.

The game was a team effort on defense, as 22 different Aztecs recorded a tackle, junior cornerback Kalan Montgomery leading the way with five tackles in his first career start.

Montgomery took the place of junior cornerback Derek Babiash, who was one of three SDSU players suspended indefinitely after violating unnamed team rules.

The Aztecs will try for their 15th straight MW win next Friday, when they face Utah State University in Logan, Utah.