What looked like an upset in the making, with the Rams once leading 10-7, disintegrated quickly for Colorado State (3-5, 1-3 MW). And it was, of course, Donnel Pumphrey who put the nail in CSU’s coffin.
The Rams did a great job containing San Diego State’s star rusher most of the day, but he finally got loose for a 64-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Aztecs the separation they were looking for, 34-17. SDSU went on to win 41-17.
SDSU (6-3, 5-0 MW) struck first, and made it look easy. The Rams responded with a gritty drive led by Jasen Oden Jr. running out of the Power-I.
However, it came to an end with a fumble just before the goal line. After some confusion about the review, the ruling on the field of a fumble was upheld, despite replays appearing to clearly show Oden breaking the plane with control of the ball. This play would prove to be crucial as the Rams found themselves playing catch up for most of the contest.
CSU got the stop on the ensuing SDSU possession though. CSU quarterback Nick Stevens had some success throwing downfield against the Aztecs’ secondary. A fade route for Hansley drew a pass interference call, and set up and eventual 35-yard touchdown by Rashard Higgins. The man known as “Hollywood” had five grabs for 75 yards, though 71 came in the first half.
Both defenses bowed their necks to force field goals after the offenses had marched into plus-territory. With the Rams moving down the field in a two minute drill, SDSU’s Na’im McGee deflected a pass for Kivon Cartwright, and Aztecs cornerback Kameron Kelly picked it off to set up a 54-yard field goal by Donny Hageman as the half expired. CSU went into the break down 13-10.
The Rams went three-and-out to begin the third quarter. SDSU capitalized with a long drive, resulting in a receiving touchdown by Pumphrey after lining him up in the slot against Kevin Pierre-Louis.
It looked like another three-and-out was on the horizon for the Rams, until a fake punt kept the drive alive.
But maybe they wish it hadn’t – a pass from Stevens went through the hands of Higgins soon after, and was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by SDSU’s Damontae Kazee.
With the Aztecs up 27-10, fans began filing out of Hughes. Stevens finished the day 17-for-26 for 205 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
CSU finally found some success moving the ball again in the fourth quarter. Danny Nwosu hauled in his first career touchdown reception from Stevens on a perfectly executed bootleg to make it again a two-score game again.
But just like that, the Aztecs answered. On the second play of the next drive, Pumphrey got to the outside and broke off the game-clinching touchdown. Prior to the run, SDSU was averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Pumphrey finished the day with 121 rushing yards, 47 receiving yards and three touchdowns in total.
CSU goes on the road next week for the Border War against rival Wyoming (1-8, 1-4 MW) Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN3.
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.