Aztecs Rally to Beat No. 19/19 Stanford, 20-17

Christian Chapman finished with 187 yards passing in the Aztecs' upset victory over No. 19/19 Stanford.
Sept. 17, 2017

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SAN DIEGO - Christian Chapman connected with David Wells on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 54 seconds remaining to lift San Diego State to a thrilling 20-17 come-from-behind victory over No. 19/19 Stanford in front of 43,040 fans Saturday night at San Diego Stadium.

Chapman led a balanced offense for the Aztecs, completing 21 of 29 passes for 187 yards with no interceptions and the aforementioned score, while Rashaad Penny rushed for 175 yards on a career-high 32 carries and one TD to help the Scarlet and Black secure its first win over a ranked opponent at home since a 27-25 triumph over No. 23 Air Force in 2010.

SDSU drove 75 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown in 11 plays, consuming 5:21 on the clock after forcing a Cardinal punt on the previous possession.

The Aztecs moved the ball 22 yards to their own 47, before the teams were forced to endure a 22-minute delay due to a stadium power failure. When play resumed, SDSU advanced to the Cardinal 19, aided by an 11-yard scamper by Penny and a 12-yard completion from Chapman to Juwan Washington.

Shortly thereafter on third down, Chapman hit Mikah Holder for another 11-yard gain to set up a first-and-goal, before rolling out to find Wells in the right flat for the go-ahead score. The Aztecs quickly extinguished Stanford's final threat after the kickoff, as Kameron Kelly intercepted Keller Chryst's first-down pass down the left sideline at the SDSU 37.

The Aztec defense flexed its muscles in the first quarter, limiting the Cardinal to zero points and just three yards of total offense on nine plays.

SDSU marched 33 yards into Stanford territory on its first possession, but the Aztecs turned the ball over on downs when Penny was stopped short on a 4th-and-2 rush from the Cardinal 29.

After a scoreless first quarter, San Diego State drew first blood in the opening minute of the second period when John Baron II drilled a 43-yard field goal, capping a 14-play, 58-yard drive that chewed up 6:35 on the clock.

However, Stanford needed just three plays on the ensuing possession to take its first lead of the game, as Bryce Love broke off a 51-yard touchdown run, putting the visitors up, 7-3.

With time winding down in the quarter, the Aztecs caught a huge break when Ron Smith intercepted a Chryst pass and returned it 22 yards to the Stanford 15 with just 1:14 left before intermission. SDSU quickly capitalized on its good fortune, as Chapman hit tight end Kahale Warring on two straight passes before Penny burst up the middle to the end zone from four yards away to give the Aztecs a 10-7 lead.

SDSU dodged a potential bullet near the end of the half, as Damon Moore recovered a Chryst fumble at the Aztec 27 with just 19 seconds remaining on the clock. After a 27-yard kickoff return and a 16-yard completion from Chryst to Dalton Schultz, SDSU was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving Stanford a first down on the 25. However on the very next play, Kelly sacked Chryst for a 7-yard loss, as Moore corralled the loose ball.

The two teams traded field goals in the third quarter, with Baron connecting from 36 yards out at the 8:33 mark to punctuate the Aztecs' first foray down the field, which covered 57 yards in 11 plays. Penny gained 20 yards on the drive, while Chapman hooked up with Wells for a 14-yard gain. SDSU was poised to attempt a 4-and-1 conversion from the Stanford 13, but settled for the three points after a substitution infraction.

The Cardinal answered with a 20-yard field goal of its own by Jet Toner, maneuvering 71 yards in eight plays to tighten the score at 13-10 with 4:51 to go in the period. Earlier, Love's 47-yard run down the left sideline put Stanford within striking distance at the SDSU 13; however, the Aztec defense kept the visitors out of the end zone after yielding just nine yards on the next three plays.

Stanford seized the momentum in the opening minute of the fourth quarter when Love swept around right end for a 53-yard touchdown run that put the Cardinal back on top 17-13.

SDSU quickly responded with a methodical march into Stanford territory, highlighted by Penny's 36-yard burst that gave the host school a first down at the Cardinal 20. However, the Aztecs were unable to salvage any points after failing to overcome a false start penalty and a 9-yard sack, while Baron came up short on a 50-yard field goal attempt.

On its next drive, Stanford managed just one first down before Troy Cassidy and Anthony Luke combined on huge sack of Chryst following a false start penalty. Faced with a 2-and-21 situation, the Cardinal gained just nine yards on the next two plays before punting to set up SDSU's eventual game-winning march.

In addition to his rushing numbers, Penny posted a career-high five receptions for 31 yards to surpass 200 all-purpose yards for the third straight game. Not to be outdone, Holder also established a personal-best with seven catches for 85 yards, while Wells finished with three grabs for 30 yards.

Defensively, the Aztecs were led by Smith, who had seven tackles, including four solo stops, while Kelly's two sacks and two tackles for loss were career highs.

As a team, SDSU outgained Stanford 358-238 in total offense and dominated the time of possession 41:14-18:46.

On the opposite sideline, Love rushed 184 yards on 13 carries for the Cardinal, while Chryst finished with just 56 yards and two interceptions on 8-of-19 passing in the loss.

With the victory, San Diego State has now won three consecutive games against power conference teams (Power 5, BCS, etc.) for the first time in the Division I era dating back to 1969.

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