HOLY SHIT WE REALLY WON THAT GAME
Sorry, I just got home from Vegas three days ago and am still adjusting to normal life, where drinking while crossing the street is frowned upon and $25 is a measurable amount of money and basic human dignity exists.
But forget about the debauchery and the [NUMBER REDACTED] dollars I lost at video roulette. The Aztecs won a game! On national TV! Against a really good team! And set some insane records! What even is life as an Aztec fan right now?
Let’s start at the beginning.
On the 15 North Friday afternoon, driving up with my friend M Bishop (Wait, no that’s too obvious. Let’s call him Matt B.), the prevailing thought between us – and probably among most Aztec fans – was: “Houston is really good. We’re good too but we’re not ‘blow out Oklahoma’-good. We’re probably going to lose and that’s OK.” Honestly, if we had to choose between winning the game and Pumphrey getting the record, it was an easy choice in favor of the latter.
We arrived at the Hard Rock around 6 p.m. and found it completely decked out in SDSU
The hotel was also full of SDSU fans. I’ve spent a lot of time at the Hard Rock sports book before Mountain West Basketball Tournament games and have seen plenty of Aztecs there, but this was a different crew. SDSU basketball fans walk around like they own the place in March. If they made a bathrobe version of those Aztec Hawaiian shirts, you’d see five or six guys walking around with them hanging wide open, wearing nothing but some free Padres promotional boxers from a 2007 giveaway game at Petco underneath.
But the SDSU football fans on this trip were not that. It wasn’t really a “just happy to be here”vibe, more of a “everyone behave yourself and use your best manners so maybe the Vegas Gods will give us a better shot to win” thing. Kind of like tipping your dealer to get better cards. (Spoiler: THAT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK.)
Anyway, after an hour of Pai Gow, a half dozen rum and pineapples, an ill-advised second trip to the ATM and an even more ill-advised stop at the blackjack tables, we were ready to head to Shake Shack to begin our night. So ready, in fact, that I stepped out of my taxi sans phone.
Leaving your phone in the cab is bad. Doing so without knowing the company of the cab is worse. So that put a bit of a damper on the evening. We ended up heading back shortly after that.
Flash forward to 9 the next morning. Your hero is about 20 minutes northeast of the strip as the first customer of the day at the closest Verizon store. An hour later I was back in business with a cellular device! Also hungover and coping with gambling losses and fearful of the game to come.
But a few beers and a Capriotti’s sandwich later, we were in the Uber on the way to the game. Sam Boyd Stadium is conveniently located way fucking far away from literally everything. Once we arrived, it seemed like the crowd was 55 percent Aztec fans, 20 percent Cougars fans and 25 percent neutral people who got some free tickets for playing nine hours of craps at Harrah’s the night before.
We lucked out with some awesome seats that gave us a fantastic view of an early 10-0 deficit.
But led by unquestioned team MVP #LordJohnofHouseBaronSecondofhisName, our boys shifted momentum in the second quarter, picked off Houston on the first drive of the second half and the rest was history.
I’d like to write, in great flowery detail, about the collective mood in the stadium. How the excitement built up to have the entire crowd rooting for Pumphrey like in Rocky IV. But the amount of neutrals in the crowd and overbearing in-stadium entertainment kind of killed all that. The best we got was before the drive when he broke the record and half the SDSU crowd chanted “PUM-PHREY” while the other chanted “LET’S GO DJ LET’S GO”. At least we tried, dammit. We haven’t had many moments of transcendent glory. We don’t know what to do.
But you know what happened. Pumphrey got the record. Munson and Barrett tossed Greg Ward Jr around like an orca with a seal. Musberger hit his parlay. And the biggest win in Rocky’s reign was complete.
Celebrating on the field afterward was surreal. Unlike Chase Tapley and and Jamaal Franklin, who got used to being mobbed after cutting down nets, the Aztec football team is still a little new to this. They don’t know they’re allowed to say “no” occasionally when they get a thousand consecutive selfie requests. But the Mountain West Azor Ahai #LordJohnofHouseBaronSecondofhisName will always make time for the people of his realm.
We tried to get free hats.
We did not succeed.
Hours later, after a six year hiatus, we were finally able to take part in one of the most proud Show traditions: victory cigars in front of the Bellagio, a la Ocean’s Eleven.
We spent the rest of the night losing more money and being disappointed there weren’t any BYU fans to scream laugh at.
The drive home the next morning is when it really hit me. The number one rusher in NCAA history is an Aztec. I was there for all four years and I was about 20 feet away when he broke the record. I still haven’t fully processed it all.
But holy shit. That really happened.