NAVY SINKS PUMPHREY, SDSU IN POINSETTIA BOWL; USC SPEARS NEBRASKA IN HOLIDAY BOWL
Five-foot-nine, 170-pound sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey (21 carries, 112 yards, one touchdown, four catches, 42 yards) pummeled the Naval Academy football team while setting the single-season rushing record for the Aztecs (1,867 yards, passing George Jones’ 1,842 in 1995), but it wasn’t enough as San Diego State University (SDSU) came up short in falling to the Midshipmen 17-16 with 33,077 spectators on hand in the 10th Annual Pointsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.
Pumphrey, the son of Madison High School alum Regina Padua, hit paydirt on his touchdown run from five yards out with 5:35 left in the first quarter, tying the game at 7-7.
The Aztecs possessed the pigskin for precisely two minutes as they matriculated the ball down the field on the scoring drive that covered 39 yards on five plays.
“I have no idea how we won the game,” said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we were able to pull it out,” said 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who scored two touchdowns to help the Midshipmen pull away. “That’s football. A win is a win.”
“I thank the seniors in our room, we had several fifth-year seniors (like 6–2, 185-pound former Madison Warhawks defensive back-wide receiver David Lamar) that came here when the team was 2 10,” said SDSU coach Rocky Long. “They came here with a belief that they could change the attitude of the program and change the success of the program. Which those fifth-year seniors have done and going to five straight bowl games is a good accomplishment for a team that was 2 10 five years ago.”
The Aztecs fell to 10-3 over Pumphrey’s career when he rushes for at least 100 yards and 12-5 when he has at least one rushing touchdown.
Pumphrey now has 2,619 yards over his career, which is tied for the seventh most in SDSU history.
“It’s great, but we didn’t get the win,” said Pumphrey.
Behind the robust rushing of 6-1, 220-pound junior running back Buck Allen (26 carries, 152 yards, two touchdowns) the USC Trojans football team got the 45-42 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers before a crowd of 55,789 in the 37th Annual Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.
Six-foot-one, 210-pound junior quarterback Cody Kessler (23 out of 39, 321 yards, three touchdowns) completed seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown to 6-1, 190-pound junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor and tied the USC single-season record of 39 touchdown passes set by Matt Barkley in 2011.
“That is completely irrelevant to me,” said Kessler. “I’m not just saying that. I really do mean it. I’ve always put the team before me.”
Six-foot-one, 220-pound sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (32 out of 51, 381 yards, three touchdowns, 12 carries, 41 yards, one touchdown) and 5-9, 195-pound senior running back Ameer Abdullah (27 carries, 88 yards, one touchdown, six catches, 61 yards) put Nebraska on their backs in the losing effort.
Barney Cotton coached the Cornhuskers, who fired Bo Pelini on Nov. 30. New coach Mike Riley watched from a skybox.
“They (the Trojans) were everything we thought they would be,” said Cotton. “They were physical, they were very skilled. They have a big-play offense. I thought it was a good battle out there. It could’ve gone either way at the end.”
Rob Stone is a lifelong resident of the Clairemont Mesa/Kearny Mesa area and is also a certified talent scout through Sports Management Worldwide. If you would like a professional scouting report on your budding son or daughter’s sports talent, feel free to contact me directly., firstname.lastname@example.org, Sportsguyrob@att.net, or 1 (619) 241-6516. www.rsscouting.blogspot.com & www.smwwscout.com/rob-stone