The No. 19 Aztecs (6-0, 2-0 Mountain West) attacked the Rebels (2-3, 1-1) both on the ground and in the air. Heisman Trophy candidate Rashaad Penny ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries while Mikah Holder caught nine passes for 144 yards. Juwan Washington added 95 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown for the Aztecs.
The score belies how competitive the game was for the Aztecs, coach Rocky Long said. UNLV got to within seven at 17-10 in the second quarter and trailed 20-10 at halftime before SDSU put the game away with the final 24 points in the second half.
The start of the second half was the turning point for the Aztecs. The UNLV threatened the lead after receiving the kick off by driving to SDSU’s 31-yard line but was forced to punt after a penalty and quarterback sack pushed the Rebels out of the scoring territory. The Aztecs then drove 80-yards for a touchdown that put them in the control of the game.
“It was a very competitive, very physical, fun game to watch,” Long said. “For the longest time, for three quarters, and in the fourth quarter we were able to pull away, so it doesn’t look like it was a very competitive game, but let me tell you, it was a very competitive game.”
Aztec quarterback Christian Chapman, who threw for 172 yards, had his first career rushing touchdown when he ran for a 14-yard TD in the second quarter.
The Aztecs limited the Rebels to 106 yards rushing, their fewest since only rushing for 80 against the Aztecs on Nov. 21, 2015. Three of the UNLV’s five fewest rushing games since 2015 have come at the hands of SDSU.
The game was UNLV’s first since the mass shooting that killed 58 people on the Las Vegas Strip last Sunday. A moment of silence was held on the field before the game and the first responders were honored. Fifty-eight white balloons were released at the pre-game ceremony, one representing each life lost.
“I thought everybody did a nice job with it. I thought it was classy. I thought it gave the right impression,” Long said. “And all the student-athletes being out there honoring the national anthem as well as the victims that are hurt and the first responders, that shows we still have great, young people in this country whether some people believe it or not.”
San Diego State won its fourth straight game against UNLV, the longest streak in 27 meetings between the two teams. The Aztecs have won nine of 10 away games and 20 of its last 22 games against conference opponents.
San Diego State returns to SDCCU Stadium next Saturday to host the Boise State Broncos at 7:30 p.m.