The Rainbow Warriors suffered a 28-14 defeat marking their fourth straight homecoming loss. Hawaii dropped to 2-4 on the season, and 0-2 in Mountain West play. Norm Chow’s squad knew San Diego State would come into the game determined to establish the run, but Donnel Pumphrey was virtually unstoppable.
“I wish I knew why we couldn’t stop their run.” Chow said. “We knew they were going to run and did that on the first two possessions.” Chow added, “We even knew their first play of the game. We fell behind even though we knew what they were going to do.”
Coming into the game, the Aztecs' do-it-all running back Pumphrey was listed on the team’s injury report after suffering a high ankle sprain in their win over Fresno State in the previous weekend. However, by Saturday evening Pumphrey didn’t seem to miss a beat, proving why he set single season school rushing records last year as a sophomore. He set the tone for the Aztecs with two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter. His 36-yard touchdown run on their first possession along with his 8-yard run after a Hawaii fumble gave the Aztecs an early 14-0 lead over the Rainbow Warriors six minutes into the first quarter. Pumphrey finished with 3 touchdowns on 30 carries and 148 yards. He also added 2 catches for 49 yards.
SDSU head coach Rocky Long knew that their quick start was extremely vital in his team’s victory Saturday night. “I thought that got us off on the right foot, obviously.” Long said. “That was the difference in the game because the rest of the game was even. There were some momentum shifts.”
Despite linebacker Julian Gener’s career high performance with 19 tackles, the Rainbow Warrior defense surrendered 402 yards of total offense - 218 of those yards given up on the ground. Senior running back Chase Price added 60 yards to go along with the explosive Pumphrey. Quarterback Maxwell Smith did not air it out, be he was efficient going 11-15 for 184 yards with 1 touchdown to his main target Eric Judge who finished with 4 receptions on 92 yards.
Hawaii’s offense finally ended a nine quarter scoring drought, after running back Melvin Davis plunged through for a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, cutting the lead to 14-7. Rainbow Warrior quarterback Max Wittek connected with receiver Isaiah Bernard for a 52-yard strike up the right sideline, setting up Davis for their first score of the game.
The Aztecs would quickly steal the momentum back, as Smith found Judge for a 58-yard touchdown via a well-executed play action fake, toasting the UH secondary, extending their lead 21-7 going into the half.
Halfway through the third quarter, Hawaii capitalized on an Aztec turnover. Wittek’s 1-yard touchdown run pulled the Rainbow Warriors within a touchdown. Unfortunately, Wittek left the game due to an injury. San Diego State’s Pumphrey scampered for his third score of the game, putting the Aztecs up for good 28-14.
Don Bailey’s offense struggled to find any consistency in the run or pass game. Wittek finished an atrocious 14-34 with just 179 yards along with 2 interceptions. Hawaii’s leading rusher was Davis who gained 52 yards on 13 carries. Wittek was sacked 4 times and UH totaled only 251 yards of offense.
“We just weren’t clicking tonight and I couldn’t tell you why, just not playing 11-man ball.” Davis said. “At this point it starts tomorrow and we get back to watching film. It felt good to get another touchdown but honestly I could have done more.”
The Rainbow Warriors return to the road next week to take on the New Mexico Lobos in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 17. Kick-off is 5:00 p.m. MT (1:00 p.m. HT).