San Diego State had a perfect 8-0 record in Mountain West play in the regular season. That dominance continued Saturday night in the league title game against Air Force.
Using a heavy ground attack, the Aztecs overwhelmed the Falcons in a highly-contested 27-24 win. Led by 90 yards from Donnel Pumphrey, the Aztecs put up 233 yards on the ground in the win. Freshman quarterback Christian Chapman wasn’t asked to do much, but he was effective when he went to the air, completing 9-of-14 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown – a 24-yard strike to Pumphrey out of the backfield.
Air Force, using its triple option attack, had 305 rushing yards of its own, but struggled to move the ball when it mattered late in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons tied the score at 24-24 with 11:49 left in the game, but mustered a total of 40 yards on their final three drives, including the two that came after SDSU took a 27-24 lead on a Donny Hageman 46-yard field goal with 5:10 to go.
The game was a close one from the start as the score was tied both at halftime and after the third quarter. San Diego State finally took its first lead on the second play of the fourth quarter when Rashaad Penny made the most of his only carry of the night. The sophomore exploded up the middle for a 28-yard touchdown, giving the Aztecs a 24-17 lead.
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It took only five plays for Air Force to respond. A 51-yard run from quarterback Karson Roberts moved the Falcons deep into Aztecs territory, and Timothy McVey finished it off from two yards out for his third touchdown of the game, tying the score at 24-24.
After the teams traded punts, Chapman completed passes of 48 and 13 yards to get the Aztecs into field goal range. Hageman then came on and calmly gave SDSU the winning points with a 46-yard field goal.
The win clinched the first outright conference title for San Diego State since the program took home the WAC Championship in 1986. The Aztecs are now 10-3 headed into a bowl game.
Air Force dropped to 8-5 with the loss.
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