SAN DIEGO Nothing like San Diego State's matador cape defense to fix what ails Fui Vakapuna.
For the first time in a year, Vakapuna found himself running free as a post-hunt mule deer against the Aztecs' alleged defense.
"Man, you could fit an elephant through those holes," said Vakapuna.
"Who's the new guy in town?" asked backup Wayne Latu, pointing to Vakapuna as he walked off the field after BYU defeated SDSU 48-27 to cap the regular season with a nine-game win streak and finish 10-2 overall and 8-0 in the MWC.
After toying with SDSU for most of the first half, leading 13-10, BYU put down the hammer on the Aztecs with its run game. With 5:39 left in the second quarter, the Cougars used seven straight run plays to dash down the field and take a 20-10 lead on a one-handed catch by Austin Collie.
"I'm happy to have those kind of linemen blocking for me," said Vakapuna. "Sete Aulai was making the right calls, and we'd run through the holes and just pound down on those defensive backs."
Then there was Harvey Unga. Limping all week long with a sprained ankle, he ran like a locomotive against the Aztecs for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
Vakapuna ripped off 97 yards and had one touchdown against SDSU. It was the most production Vakapuna has had since ankle surgery 11 months ago slowed down his gait and impacted his confidence. Both players averaged 7 yards a carry on Saturday.
"Every game is different, but when you can get that kind of yards on the ground, you go with it," said BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae.
"Every time we ran the ball, it seemed like we were getting 10 yards, so we kept gashing them and gashing them," said quarterback Max Hall. "If they're going to fall back and cover the pass, we're going to make them pay."
The Cougars gained 313 yards rushing on the Aztecs and lost only 2, part of a 538-yard total offense output.
"I'm fine with that," said Hall. "It's great having Fui back there. He's obviously one of the fan favorites, chanting his name. I definitely know I can't do it on my own, and it's great to have Fui back out there making plays."
Unga said he didn't know why the Aztecs struggled to stop the run.
"They are a good defense," he said. "We just executed well."
Said Vakapuna: "When the time came, I got a chance to play my game and it paid off.""Right off the first drive, I saw how easy it was to drive down the field on them," Hall said. "We felt every time we had the ball, we should be able to drive and score. We didn't throw the ball as much. My uniform is clean. I didn't take that many hits tonight."
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