SAN DIEGO — Two of Donnel Pumphrey’s biggest fans were among the 43,473 fans who attended Saturday night’s shootout between Cal and San Diego State.
His grandmother and his daughter flew out from Las Vegas to watch a game in which he led SDSU to a wild 45-40 win over Cal and surpass Marshall Faulk as the Aztecs’ all-time leader in rushing yards.
“This is definitely a major memory for me, just to be able to do this with my teammates, my family here, coaching staff and athletic department here, it’s just unreal,” Pumphrey said.
Pumphrey rushed for three touchdowns, a career-high 281 yards and bolstered his argument for Heisman.
“I’m not really worried about the individual accolades because it’s my whole offense that’s picking me up,” Pumphrey said.
It still almost wasn’t enough.
San Diego State (1-1) held the lead for the majority of the game, but the Bears closed the gap to 45-40 with 21-yard touchdown catch by Raymond Hudson and then an onside kick recovery with 55 seconds left. Damontae Kazee’s interception at the SDSU 17 with 9 seconds left sealed the victory.
“Even when we got down two scores and it didn’t look good I think we all felt like we had an opportunity to win the game,” said Cal head coach Sonny Dykes. “It kind of played out that way, we just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”
SDSU avenged a 35-7 loss to Cal last year and extended its win streak to 12 games, the second-longest active win streak among FBS teams.
SDSU: Pumphrey lived up to the Heisman hype brought on by the 50-foot banner hanging from a residence hall on the San Diego State campus. The FBS active leader in rushing yards, rushing TDs and 100-yard games also surpassed Marshall Faulk as the SDSU all-time leader in rushing yards.
The lack of Power 5 opponents will hurt SDSU’s argument to join the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1995. It also doesn’t help that the Aztecs almost let the game slip in the fourth quarter.
CAL: The offense hasn’t skipped a beat since the departure of QB Jared Goff and Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin. Senior QB Davis Webb is averaging 481.5 yards after his first two games with Cal and the Bears have averaged 617 total yards this season.
CAL: Webb provided a majority of the offense as 522 of the 604 the Bears gained in the game came through the air.
SDSU: The Aztecs got the opposite production out of their offense with 334 of their 463 yards coming from rushing the ball.
Junior running back Rashaad Penny returned a kick 100-yards for a touchdown to give the Aztecs a 14-7 lead. The return was is fourth of his career after not even returning kickoffs in high school. “This is a one-time thing,” Penny said. “I started my freshman year, and just went from there.”
Pumphrey left the Cal secondary in the dust with a nasty cut back on a 33-yard touchdown run in the second quarter
Cal wide receiver Raymond Hudson made an incredible 21-yard touchdown catch with a defender draped all over him to tie the score at 21 in the second quarter.
SDSU: The Aztecs fly to DeKalb, Illinois to face Northern Illinois, a team that fell in its opener to Wyoming and lost its starting quarterback Drew Hare to a leg injury in a 45-17 loss to South Florida on Saturday
CAL: The Bears take on No. 11 Texas. Four of Cal’s 10 remaining opponents are currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
“(Dykes) said that’s the hardest any team has ever played under him,” said Cal wide receiver Chad Hansen. “It’s no consolation, but we know we left everything out on that field.”