Aztec Defense Shines at Fan Fest Scrimmage
Aug. 22, 2015
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego State defense was stellar in SDSU's scrimmage at Aztec Fan Fest Saturday afternoon inside Qualcomm Stadium. The unit, which was a top-20 group nationally in 2014, allowed only two field goals in the first half and returned an interception for a touchdown early in the third quarter before the offense found the endzone midway through the third.
On the first drive of the day, quarterback Maxwell Smith orchestrated a 10-play, 57-yard drive that encompassed 4 minutes, 57 seconds, which led to a 45-yard field goal by Donny Hageman, the Mountain West Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year. Over the course of the drive, Smith hit Daniel Brunskill for a 30-yard gain and Chase Price scampered for 25 yards to get the Aztecs within field-goal range.
After yielding three points, the defense held the offense scoreless on nine consecutive drives, six of which were either three-and-outs or a turnover on downs. The unit also held the offense in check on the third drive of the day that resulted in a missed 55-yard field goal.
Taking over with 6:04 left in the first half, Smith marched the Aztecs the down the field, with the help of a pair of Dakota Gordon runs, to the 10-yard line, but the defense stood tall and forced yet another field-goal attempt. This time, Hageman was successful from 27 yards out to complete the 11-play, 41-yard drive that covered 5 minutes, 10 seconds.
When the teams returned to the field after halftime, signal caller Christian Chapman was picked off on the fifth play of the drive by Pierre Romain. The senior returned the interception 63 yards for the score and was followed by a successful PAT from John Baron II.
The offense found paydirt two drives later when Smith connected with Rashaad Penny for a 60-yard gain that brought San Diego State to the five-yard line. The sophomore running back then crossed the goal line from five yards out to complete three-play, 65-yard drive that took only 1 minute, 40 seconds. Hageman split the uprights on his PAT attempt.
The defense tightened up after the TD and forced four straight punts before allowing one final score as time ran out in the fourth period. Quarterback Adam Wood directed the Aztecs down the field from his own 12-yard line and got SDSU to the one where Juwan Washington broke the goal line to complete the scoring. During the 10-play, 88-yard drive, Wood threw a 43-yard strike to Jerry Chaney and connected with Jack Bailey for a 10-yard gain to help San Diego State get on the board one last time. Baron II was good again on his PAT try.
On this day, the offense did not have the services of running back Donnel Pumphrey, a preseason candidate for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. The junior from Las Vegas, Nevada, was held out, but completed work on the sidelines, while senior cornerback J.J. Whittaker, who is on the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, played sparingly.
Offensively, Smith completed six of 12 passes for 114 yards, while Wood was 5-for-10 for 70 yards. Penny carried 10 times for 45 yards and a touchdown, Gordon had six attempts for 39 yards and Price had 10 rushes for 30 yards. Washington carried a game-high 21 times for 32 yards and a score. Penny led the receivers as well, catching two balls for 66 yards, while Chaney had two receptions for 53 yards.
Defensively, Austin Wyatt-Thayer led the Aztecs with 11 tackles with Kevin Walcott finishing second on the team with seven stops. A pair of preseason all-conference players, according to Phil Steele, Jake Fely and Trey Lomax, meanwhile, each had four tackles. Tyler Morris, who had five stops overall, finished with a team-high 3.5 tackles for loss (2 sacks) and was followed closely by Jon Sanchez, who had three behind the line of scrimmage.
The Aztecs have another two weeks of practice to prepare for their season opener vs. USD on Sept. 5. The game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. PT start at Qualcomm Stadium with the 40th annual KGB SkyShow to follow after the contest. Season and single-game tickets can be purchased at GoAztecs.com or by calling the SDSU Ticket Office at (619) 283-7378.