Pumphrey Gets Rushing Record En Route To MVP Honors

 

Las Vegas, NV - December 17, 2016 - Sam Boyd Stadium: Donnel Pumphrey of the San Diego State University Aztecs during the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl (Photo by Gabriel Christus / ESPN Images)
(Photo by Gabriel Christus / ESPN Images)

By Jesse Lima special for the Las Vegas Bowl

The 2016 Rossi T. Ralenkotter Most Valuable Player Award went to Las Vegas native Donnel Pumphrey, who graduated from Canyon Springs High School in 2013. The San Diego State University running back broke the FBS all-time rushing record during the fourth quarter, passing Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne who previously held the record with 6,397 yards from 1996-99.

Storybook endings aren’t written much better than this. Pumphrey ended his decorated college career in front of his family and friends with a win, an all-time FBS record and an MVP honor.

The Aztecs, who finished as the Mountain West Conference Champions, overcame a 10-0 deficit early on and defeated the Houston Cougars, 34-10.

Pumphrey finished with 115 yards on 19 carries and scored one touchdown on a 32-yard scamper in the third quarter. He entered Saturday needing 108 rushing yards to break the record.

Early on, it looked like a longshot as during the first quarter, Pumphrey had -1 rushing yard on the stat sheet after being bottled up by a stifling Cougars’ defensive line.

“Those guys on the other side definitely did not want me to break the record,” Pumphrey said.  “After the first quarter, I started to find some space and my offensive linemen were ready for the task ahead.”

After the less-than-stellar first quarter, Pumphrey went for 116 yards on 12 carries the rest of the way. His record-breaking scamper came on the Aztecs’ first play from the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter. After the play, Pumphrey was mobbed on the sideline by his teammates.

“I heard all of the fans chanting and my teammates were all pumped up! I thought I was gone on the play, but then I got tackled.” Pumphrey said when talking about his record-breaking run.

On the other side of the ball, the Aztecs’ defense was led by freshman Ron Smith, junior Kameron Kelly, and senior Calvin Munson, who all finished with at least one interception. Smith finished with 10 tackles and returned his one interception to the end zone, Kelly finished with two interceptions, and Munson finished with eight tackles along with his one interception.

“We were all so pumped,” Munson said when talking about the seniors. “Finishing as the Mountain West Champs and the Las Vegas Bowl Champs is a great way to go out. It was a blast out there.”

“Coaches do not win games,” SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. “With great players like DJ (Pumphrey) and Calvin (Munson), all we have to do is make sure they’re in the right shape and they go out and do the rest.”

Donnel Pumphrey will now enter the 2017 draft along with a very stacked class of running backs but with the all-time FBS rushing record under his belt.

“I feel blessed to be able to end my college career where everything started.”

LAS VEGAS BOWL 25 NOTES

 

670x400-notesLAS VEGAS BOWL 25 NOTES (D. 17, 2016)

  • The 25th Las Vegas Bowl saw Mountain West champion San Diego State rally to score 34 unanswered points and defeat at-large team Houston 34-10
  • SDSU senior Donnel Pumphrey earned the Rossi T. Ralenkotter Most Valuable Player Trophy by rushing for 115 yards on 19 carries, including a 32-yard touchdown, and adding one reception for 26 yards. Pumphrey’s 126 yards tied for the 11th-most in Las Vegas Bowl history
  • The senior, who was playing in front of his hometown of Las Vegas for his final collegiate game, came into the day needing 108 yards to pass Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the leading rusher in college football history. His 115 yards gave Pumphrey a final total of 6,405
  • With the win, the Mountain West improved to 10-7 all-time in the Las Vegas Bowl but notched the first victory by a team from the league since Boise State downed Washington 28-26 in 2012
  • SDSU improved to 1-1 in the Las Vegas Bowl in its first appearance in the game since falling to North Carolina in 1998
  • Aztec head coach Rocky Long improved to 1-2 in the Las Vegas Bowl as he lost his first two trips while leading New Mexico in 2002 and 2003
  • Houston came into the game as an at-large selection and at-large teams fell to 4-3 at the Las Vegas Bowl. The Cougars were the first American Athletic Conference team and first Texas program to appear in the Las Vegas Bowl
  • The teams’ quarterbacks were both efficient with their passing as Greg Ward Jr. was third in Las Vegas Bowl history with a .735 clip (25 of34) while Christian Chapman ranked fourth with .714 (10-14). Chapman’s 14 attempts were the second-fewest for any Las Vegas Bowl team and his 10 completions tied for fourth-fewest
  • SDSU finished with seven sacks, which tied a Las Vegas Bowl record set by Nevada in 1996 when the Wolf Pack downed Ball State 18-15
  • Ward broke the LVB record for interceptions thrown with four, besting Tanner Mangum of BYU who threw three in 2015 vs. Utah
  • Ward tied BYU’s Max Hall for second place in a Las Vegas Bowl with 56 total plays and second with 286 all-purpose yards
  • SDSU PK John Baron made both of his field goal attempts to tie for fourth-most in LVB history
  • SDSU DB Ron Smith became the sixth person in LVB history to return an interception for a touchdown when he took it back 54 yards, which ranked as the third-longest in the event’s history
  • Houston tied for the seventh-fewest net offensive yards in a LVB with 254 while SDSU was ninth with 255
  • The teams combined for just five accepted penalties on the day. Houston tied the LVB record with just two while SDSU tied for fourth with just three. UH’s 10 penalty yards tied the bowl’s record set by Nevada in 1992 and Washington in 2012
  • The teams combined to go 5-5 in the red zone, including 3-3 by SDSU
  • The 25th Las Vegas Bowl saw Mountain West champion San Diego State rally to score 34 unanswered points and defeat at-large team Houston 34-10
  • SDSU senior Donnel Pumphrey earned the Rossi T. Ralenkotter Most Valuable Player Trophy by rushing for 115 yards on 19 carries, including a 32-yard touchdown, and adding one reception for 26 yards. Pumphrey’s 126 yards tied for the 11th-most in Las Vegas Bowl history
  • The senior, who was playing in front of his hometown of Las Vegas for his final collegiate game, came into the day needing 108 yards to pass Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the leading rusher in college football history. His 115 yards gave Pumphrey a final total of 6,405
  • With the win, the Mountain West improved to 10-7 all-time in the Las Vegas Bowl but notched the first victory by a team from the league since Boise State downed Washington 28-26 in 2012
  • SDSU improved to 1-1 in the Las Vegas Bowl in its first appearance in the game since falling to North Carolina in 1998
  • Aztec head coach Rocky Long improved to 1-2 in the Las Vegas Bowl as he lost his first two trips while leading New Mexico in 2002 and 2003
  • Houston came into the game as an at-large selection and at-large teams fell to 4-3 at the Las Vegas Bowl. The Cougars were the first American Athletic Conference team and first Texas program to appear in the Las Vegas Bowl
  • The teams’ quarterbacks were both efficient with their passing as Greg Ward Jr. was third in Las Vegas Bowl history with a .735 clip (25 of34) while Christian Chapman ranked fourth with .714 (10-14). Chapman’s 14 attempts were the second-fewest for any Las Vegas Bowl team and his 10 completions tied for fourth-fewest
  • SDSU finished with seven sacks, which tied a Las Vegas Bowl record set by Nevada in 1996 when the Wolf Pack downed Ball State 18-15
  • Ward broke the LVB record for interceptions thrown with four, besting Tanner Mangum of BYU who threw three in 2015 vs. Utah
  • Ward tied BYU’s Max Hall for second place in a Las Vegas Bowl with 56 total plays and second with 286 all-purpose yards
  • SDSU PK John Baron made both of his field goal attempts to tie for fourth-most in LVB history
  • SDSU DB Ron Smith became the sixth person in LVB history to return an interception for a touchdown when he took it back 54 yards, which ranked as the third-longest in the event’s history
  • Houston tied for the seventh-fewest net offensive yards in a LVB with 254 while SDSU was ninth with 255
  • The teams combined for just five accepted penalties on the day. Houston tied the LVB record with just two while SDSU tied for fourth with just three. UH’s 10 penalty yards tied the bowl’s record set by Nevada in 1992 and Washington in 2012
  • The teams combined to go 5-5 in the red zone, including 3-3 by SDSU