Monday, September 1, 2014

SDSU Cruises Past Northern Arizona, 38-7, in Opener

Donnel Pumphrey ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns in San Diego State's 38-7 victory over Northern Arizona in its 2014 opener Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium.
Quinn Kaehler passed for 205 yards and a touchdown, completing 18 of 29 attempts, for the Aztecs, who scored the first 24 points of the game.

After punting on its opening drive, SDSU forced the Lumberjacks into a 3-and-out and got the ball back with 11:58 left in the first. Pumphrey completed San Diego State's 9-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to but the home team on the board.

After NAU punted again on its next possession, the Aztecs mounted a 7-play, 88-yard drive to go up, 14-0. The drive was highlighted by four straight first down plays - a 14-yard pass from Kaehler to Eric Judge, a 15-yard strike from Kaehler to Ezell Ruffin, a 33-yard reverse handoff to Lloyd Mills and a 21-yard scamper by Chase Price. Price finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on 3rd and goal.

Northern Arizona tried to answer after getting all the way to the SDSU 30, thanks to a 50-yard catch and run by Alex Holmes from Kyren Poe on a 2nd and 15. San Diego State stood tall, however, and forced the Lumberjacks into a 45-yard field goal attempt. On the try, Alex Barrett reached up and swatted the kick down to keep NAU off the scoreboard.

On the ensuing possession, the Aztecs got into field goal range of their own, thanks in part to a Northern Arizona pass interference call and a 33-yard run by Pumphrey. Donny Hageman than split the upright from 48 yards to put SDSU up, 17-0. It was the first field goal make by San Diego State since Sept. 28, 2013 vs. New Mexico State.

Hageman later looked to make it four straight scores for the Aztecs, but his 46-yard attempt went wide left, giving the ball back to the Lumberjacks.

After being forced to punt once again, NAU's fourth out of its five possessions (the other was the blocked field goal), SDSU got the ball back with 1:42 left in the second quarter. Kaehler was perfect on the ensuing drive, completing all five of his passes for 75 yards, ending with a 2-yard toss to a wide open Robert Craighead and giving San Diego State a 24-0 advantage at the half.

Northern Arizona finally got on the scoreboard with 6:36 left in the third quarter as Jahn rumbled in from 1-yard out, capping a 9-play, 74-yard drive.

The Lumberjacks appeared to gain the momentum after the touchdown after they forced the Aztecs into a 3-and-out, and getting all the way to the SDSU 38. Kyren Poe's pass on a 3rd and 5, however, was picked off by Calvin Munson and returned 64 yards to the NAU 1.

Pumphrey didn't waste any time as he scored on the very first play, putting San Diego State back up by 24 at 31-7.

Northern Arizona got the ball back, but was forced into its third 3-and-out of the game. The Aztecs' Lloyd Mills then took the punt 67 yards to seal the win for the home team. It was SDSU's third punt return for a touchdown in four games.

San Diego State improved to 47-40-5 all-time in season-opening games, including a 19-6-1 mark in its Division I era (since 1969) when the opener is at home.

The 31-point margin of victory was the Aztecs' largest since beating Hawai'i by 38 (52-14) on Oct. 6, 2012.

Kaehler extended his streak of 200-yard passing games to 13, the longest streak by a SDSU quarterback since at least 1996.

Price added 45 yards on the ground and also caught two balls for 22 yards, while Judge (5 receptions, 51 yards) and Ruffin (4 receptions, 53 yards) combined for nine catches and 104 yards.

Malik Smith led the San Diego State defense with seven tackles and three pass breakups in his first career start, while Trey Lomax and J.J Whittaker contributed six stops apiece.

The seven points allowed were the fewest against the Aztecs since a 42-7 win over Army on Sept. 8, 2012.

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