Monday, November 12, 2018

An “ugly” win? Hey, a WIN is a WIN!

Originally published October 17, 2016

Whenever I hear that term used, I bristle. Even if it isn’t Rembrandt, a win is what’s important, whether it’s with a lower case w or a capital W. And the Aztecs’ win over Fresno had lots of very positive notes.

Start with defense. In two MW games, the defense has given up just one FG, no TDs. Not big winners, but coming into our game these two opponents had scored well. UNLV had averaged 36.0 points a game, and a week later they scored 41 to beat Hawaii on the road! Fresno had averaged 24.7 points. And the Aztec pass defense, after some questions, continues to get better and better, with 3 INTs at Fresno. The Aztecs dominated the clock, letting Fresno have the ball for only 22:41, while controlling it for 37:19. At the half, the Bulldogs had a total of only 74 yards.

The offense, not surprisingly, featured DJ Pumphrey. He ran for 220 yards and scored both of the Aztecs’ TDs. His total yards in six games is 1,111, with at least 6 games to go. With his Fresno yards he moved up to #10 all-time among NCAA running backs, or 8th if you believe other stories that go by old NCAA record rules. In this game he moved past, among others, Herschel Walker, and is just 4 yards short of LaDainian Tomlinson, a name well known here. Our young QB Christian Chapman continues to be a steady leader, with no INTs, and only two in six games, in addition to none in his first games last year. In a limited passing night he completed 7 of 12 and ran the ball 6 times for 26 yards and had only one sack.

I still like this rivalry a lot, and was pleased that we could carry the Old Oil Can back to San Diego where it belongs. There are so many things not to like about Fresno. Like the year at old Ratcliffe Stadium where thieves broke in to our locker room and stole players’ personal possessions. Or, the recent year someone threw a folding chair at me. Guess I should tone down my sideline enthusiasm! And Saturday, Ken and I were challenged by the same security guy who tried two years ago to throw us off the sideline despite our bench passes. Fortunately, there was a friendly deputy sheriff who calmed the belligerent guy down in our behalf. Oh, well, as long as we WIN… or should that be simply win?  Interesting, the crowd was announced as 24,731. Frankly, we guessed there were no more than 10 or 12 thousand in their 41,000-seat stadium, and maybe 2,000 at game’s end.

Now, this week, another Friday night game, but at home and with a full week to prep. San Jose State is only 2-5, but last Saturday they upset a favored Nevada team in Spartan Stadium. Let’s be there to help the Aztecs hold them down to a minimum and chalk up another important MW victory!

DJ Pumphrey and the Aztecs brought the Old Oil Can back to San Diego; Kameron Kelly’s INT late in the game sealed the Aztec win (Photos by Ernie Anderson)