San Diego State won the “Battle for the Old Oil Can” with a final score of 17-3 at Bulldog Stadium, and this was San Diego State's first win at Fresno since 1997.
Fresno State, a former dominant MW football program, dropped its fifth straight loss for a record of 1-6 and 0-3.
The Aztec defense put the Bulldogs on lockdown, and other than a few strong runs by redshirt freshman quarterback Chason Virgil the San Diego State squashed the FSU offense.
The Bulldogs achieved only 217 yards in total offense, to SDSU’s 364. Virgil had 44 of those yards on the ground while completing 16 of 26 for 139.
Before and after a 39-yard third-quarter field goal by Kody Kroening that kept alive a modest streak of now 75 games without a shutout, it just was a struggle against a San Diego State defense that leads the Mountain West in total defense, not allowing any of its past 17 conference opponents to hit 400 total yards.
San Diego State went 75 yards on 12 plays with its first possession, but was cut down on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line when inside linebackers Jeff Camilli and Jeffrey Allison and outside linebacker Tobenna Okeke stopped national rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey for no gain. Thsis served as a reminder that Fresno would force the Aztecs to fight for the win.
Still, entering the game with a defense ranked 15th best overall in the country, it was no surprise that that Aztecs won against a Bulldogs team that fans can only hope is having a “rebuilding year.” The Aztecs controlled the clock for nearly fifteen minutes more than the Bulldogs during the game.
The San Diego State offense played sporadically, gaining a mere 10-0 lead at halftime while Aztec defense shut down the Bulldogs. SDSU held the ball for nearly 21 minutes and had 11 more first downs (15-4), but only two of its five drives ended in scores.
"I think any time our defense can get some stops in the first half, it gives our offense confidence,” said Aztecs linebacker Calvin Munson, who led the team with 10 tackles.
John Baron II kicked a 47-yard field goal when SDSU’s second drive stalled, and Pumphrey finished an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard run in the second quarter. Baron has been stellar, and the 47-yarder was the third of three at 47 yards or longer during the past two games.
Donnel Pumphrey had a brilliant night overall. He rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns, surpassing 1,000 yards for the season. He is now inside the NCAA Top 10 career rushing leaders list.
It was his third 200-yard game this season, and Pumphrey now has 1,111 yards in just six games and his career rushing total is now 5,383, passing LaDanian Tomlinson, Herschel Walker and Archie Griffin. He now sits 8th on the NCAA all-time list. Pumphrey rushed for both touchdowns in the game.
SDSU quarterback Christian Chapman was limited to 12 passes, completing seven for 72 yards. None of those went to a receiver, with four going to tight ends and three to running backs. Chapman ran for 26 yards on six scrambles. “We’ve got to throw it better than we did tonight,” Coach Rocky Long said.
Coach Tim DeRuyter said, “That’s as good a defense as we have faced in conference in my five years. They’re as physical as anyone you’re going to play against. They’re really well-coached. They play extremely hard and they’re a veteran group, so they know what they do and they go very fast doing it.”
The Aztecs face San Jose State next week at Qualcomm Stadium.