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Monday, May 23, 2022

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Aztec running back Donnel Pumphrey became college football's all-time leading rusher with 6,405 yards. Aztec running back Donnel Pumphrey became college football's all-time leading rusher with 6,405 yards.

SDSU Football Wins Las Vegas Bowl

SDSU became the first team in NCAA FBS history to produce a 2,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season.
By GoAztecs

Donnel Pumphrey broke the NCAA career rushing record Saturday in his college finale, running for 115 yards and a touchdown in San Diego State's 34-10 victory over Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Pumphrey passed former Wisconsin star Ron Dayne's mark of 6,397 yards on a 15-yard run early in the fourth quarter, with teammates swarming him on the sideline, and wrapping up his sensational career in his Nevada hometown with 6,405 yards.

Pumphrey's senior total of 2,133 yards rushing ranks in the top 10 for an FBS player.

Ron Smith returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown, Curtis Anderson caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Christian Chapman, Juwan Washington ran for a touchdown, and John Baron kicked two field goals for the Aztecs (11-3). They overcame a 10-0 first-quarter deficit against the Cougars (9-4) for their second consecutive bowl win.

Neither the victory nor Pumphrey's record-setting performance seemed likely after Houston's defense absolutely smothered the Aztecs in the first quarter. Led by freshman Ed Oliver, Houston had seven tackles for loss on San Diego State's first 16 plays. Pumphrey had minus-1 yard rushing on seven carries in the first quarter and the Aztecs didn't have a first down until the first play of the second quarter - on a penalty for running into the kicker.

''The first quarter, they came out with more intensity than we did, at least their defensive side of the ball,'' Pumphrey said.

But Pumphrey started to gash Houston on the perimeter, giving SDSU the lead for good on a 32-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, and the defense intercepted four of Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.'s passes in the second half.

''When you are leaving your defense out there too long that's what happens,'' Houston coach Major Applewhite said. ''When you give a great back that many at-bats and that many opportunities, one is going to hit at some point and it did.''

Ward threw for 229 yards and had a 2-yard touchdown run, tying Bryce Beall's school record of 39 rushing touchdowns.

Houston finished with 254 yards of total offense and just 25 yards rushing.

''They beat the crap out of us,'' tight end Tyler McCloskey said. ''We didn't show up. We didn't execute the way we needed to.''

The takeaway

San Diego State: The running game for the Aztecs was historic. Not only did Pumphrey set NCAA and school records, but Rashaad Penny topped the 1,000-yard mark to give SDSU the first college backfield with a 2,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season.

Houston: Oliver is the real deal, finishing his remarkable freshman season with 23 tackles for loss and five sacks. With his knack for delivering in the showcase games - Oliver had 8 1/2 tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble against Oklahoma, Louisville and SDSU - it wouldn't be a surprise if his second season ended with national awards.

Poll implications

The Aztecs could find themselves ranked in the final poll for the first time since 1977.