Aztecs Rout Cougars 34-10 In Vegas Bowl

Our (San Diego Sports Domination) day started out at 2:30 AM PST. My schedule was something like this; wake up, get dressed, get cash, get gas. After I put gas in the car I headed over to pick up John, my co-co-host of the Aztec Domination Podcast at his house over by San Diego State. I picked up John and then hit the I-15 by about 3:40 AM. Next stop Los Angeles to pick our friend James at 5:30 AM. Once we had picked up James we got back on the 210 then the 15 for what was a pretty boring drive looking at a bunch of nothing. We arrived in Las Vegas at about 9:00 AM and made the 30 minute drive out to Sam Boyd Stadium. Tailgating began at promptly 9:30 AM for us and we joined up with a ton of Aztec fans. We then went into the stadium at 11:30 AM to get our amazing seats one row behind the Aztecs bench on the 30-yard line.

Everything that could go wrong for the Aztecs in the first quarter did go wrong. The first four drives for the Aztecs went something like this: Punt, Punt, Punt, and Punt. On those four drives, the Aztecs ran a total of 16 plays for 18 yards. Pumphrey would end the first quarter with negative one-yard rushing. As we have said in our podcast all year long… football is a game of field position and the team with the better starting field position wins. The Aztecs average starting field position in the first quarter was their own 23-yard line. While Houston average starting field position was their own 33-yard line including one drive starting at the Aztec 38-yard line. The Cougars would end the first quarter with a 10-0 lead over San Diego State.  

The Aztec offensive line was frustrated with first quarter play and that showed. We could see from our amazing seats one row behind the Aztecs bench the players yelling and fighting with each other. As the great Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” The Aztecs have always had heart and that showed. The Aztecs had stellar field position on two drives in the second quarter of the game. Drive five started on the Aztecs 40 and ended in a 23-yard field goal by John Baron II. Drive six started on the Houston 37 and ended in a 28-yard field goal by John Baron II. Donnel Pumphrey came alive in the 2nd quarter of the game totaling 59 yards on 6 carries (9.8 YPC) and including a run of 30 yards. The Aztecs headed into halftime down by four (10-6) after winning the second quarter 6-0 down.

With a flip of a coin in the third quarter, everything that could go wrong would go wrong for the Houston Cougars. Four dives (Int, Int, Int, Punt) in the third quarter and three interceptions going the Aztecs way. This game belonged to the San Diego State Aztecs and they began to pull away from Houston in the third quarter. The Aztecs defense came to life. First interception was by #7 Kameron Kelly giving the Aztecs the ball at their own 36-yard line. The Aztecs would punt on their first possession of the third quarter. Five minutes after giving the ball back to Houston the Aztecs Captain Calvin Munson would come up with his first interception of the season giving the Aztecs the ball on their own 32-yard line. The Aztecs would finally get into the end zone on a 32-yard touchdown run by Donnel Pumphrey.


Six plays into their third drive of the quarter Houston QB Greg Ward threw a ball straight into the open hands of Aztec Freshman Ron Smith. The freshman took his third interception of the season back 54 yards for the pick six. The big pick six giving the Aztecs a 20-10 lead over Houston. Pumphrey would end the third quarter with 39 yards on 4 carries (9.75 YPC) and one touchdown.

Entering the fourth quarter Pumphrey was looking to make history. Pumphrey needed just 10 more yards to become the FBS All-Time rushing leader. HISTORY was made just over two minutes into the fourth quarter.


Pumphrey passed former Wisconsin star Ron Dayne’s mark of 6,397 yards on a 15-yard run right in front of his family, his fans and his teammates. Pumphrey’s final stat sheet for the Las Vegas bowl would read 19 carries for 115 yards (6.0 YPC) and 1 TD.  Remember folks Houston entered the bowl game as the third best run defense in the nation. The Aztecs would tack on 14 more points in the fourth quarter of the game. The Aztecs took advantage of the poor Houston pass defense by going right over the top 28 yards Chapman to senior WR Curtis Anderson III. The final score came on the ground for the Aztecs as freshman Juwan Washington on a seven-yard run. With 17 seconds remaining in the game Kelly nabbed his second interception to ice the game. The Kelly interception was the fourth Aztec interception of the game. The Aztecs sent out the offensive in victory formation and the rest was history.

As the clock struck triple zeros Aztec fans celebrated one of the bigger wins in program history. The Aztecs had routed a Houston team (3 point favorite) who had defeated Oklahoma and Louisville. Aztec fans poured onto the field to celebrate with the team and fellow fans.


Many fans including me had tears of joy. We has seen many thing happen that game; Pumphrey becoming in my opinion the greatest running back in NCAA history, Pumphrey/Penny becoming the 1st RB tandem in NCAA history to run for 2,000/1,000 in a single season, and the Aztecs second straight 11 win season (first back to back 11 win season in Aztec football history).

The day began with our San Diego Sports Domination team at 2:30 AM Saturday and ended back in San Diego at 12:30 AM Sunday morning. In total, we drove about 12 hours from San Diego to Vegas and Vegas to San Diego… to watch a three-hour-long football game. That three-hour long football game was historic for the Aztec Nation. I am so happy that we decided to head to Vegas for the game and I would not trade it for anything in the world. Below we have some stats and notes from the Vegas Bowl. We also have a photo gallery and a video that we made at the game. Last but not least… We have a very special guest coming onto the Aztec Domination Podcast this coming week. The Podcast records at 9:00 PM and will be released shortly after the conclusion of the show onto Itunes, Soundcloud and Google Music. We will also post a web version of the show the following morning here on San Diego Sports Domination. This will be our final San Diego State Aztec Football game recap and podcast of the 2016 season.            


Stats & Notes:

  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department SDSU has outscored the American Athletic Conference over the past two seasons (2 bowl games), 76-17.
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department, the last time a team had more interceptions than ‘s 26 this year was North Carolina State in 2011 (27).
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department ‘s Christian Chapman improved to 13-3 as the starting quarterback & 4-0 in postseason games (2-0 in MW Championships, 2-0 in bowls).
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department Donnel Pumphrey’s 2,133 rushing yards this year are the 10th most in NCAA FBS single-season history.
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department ‘s Donnel Pumphrey passed T.Y. Hilton (Florida International) for fifth place in NCAA FBS history with 7,515 all-purpose yards.
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department Donnel Pumphrey’s 11 100-yard rushing games, this season are an record, breaking his own mark set in 2014.
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department  held Houston to its fewest points (10) and total yards (254) since Aug. 29, 2014 vs. UTSA.
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department  had four interceptions and seven sacks in the same game for the first time since at least 1996.
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department  snapped Houston’s 56-game win streak when leading by at least 10 points (dating back to UCF in 2009). (h/t ).
  • According to the San Diego Athletic Department  has back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in the program’s 94-year history. SDSU’s 11 wins have tied a program best.
  • #AztecFB has forced an FBS-leading 63 turnovers over the last two seasons. #GoAztecs

Our photo gallery:

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Our in person highlight video:

Full Game Video:

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About DavidSDSU (1275 Articles)
I graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Media Studies. I am also the Founder and CEO of San Diego Sports Domination. I am an award winning blogger and have been covering San Diego State Athletics and San Diego Sports for the past 10 years. I have written many guest articles and have appeared in many podcasts. I am also the team photographer for the San Diego Silverbacks, San Diego Surf (WPSL) and San Diego Strike Force. At my day job, I am a Live Coverage and Studio Coordinator at STN Digital a Digital Marketing Agency that works in the Sports & Entertainment Industry. We work with the biggest sports & entertainment companies in the world.

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