New week, same ol’ story. But, like an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, there was a quality, feel-good ending if you’re a Rams fan on this Homecoming night celebrating the 90s.
For Colorado State, an early lead quickly became a multiple-score deficit for the Rams with a Mountain West foe out-playing the home team on Sonny Lubick’s Field at Hughes Stadium.
Another near sellout crowd, another night time kickoff, the stage set for a victory in a pivotal game; and yet, CSU couldn’t respond to the fight the Aggies brought. At least, not for a long while.
While the Rams have been much better in the first half than the second half this season, Colorado State finally found consistency, putting double-digit points on the board in each half, winning the pivotal game 31-24.
“A couple of guys were up to no good, starting making trouble in my neighborhood…” Until Colorado State took control on their home turf to send Utah State home bummed out.
Things started well for the Rams, as Dalyn Dawkins ran with a purpose and explosiveness, looking healthy for the first time in weeks. But, that first drive stalled and CSU had to settle for a field goal. Utah State answered with a quickness and a 41-yard running touchdown by Tonny Lindsey.
Colorado State then answered with their best drive of the day, eight plays for 75 yards and a score when freshman Collin Hill connected with Olabisi Johnson on a skinny post: 10-7, Rams.
But, that was the last time CSU would lead as Utah State’s Kent Myers took it to the green and gold’s defense time and time again.
There was Myers keeping it and running over three Rams on his way to the end zone on his first score, then he was untouched on a 14-yard score. And just before halftime, Myers connected on a 36-yard bomb down the sideline to Ron’Quavion Tarver, setting up a 36-yard field goal and the 24-10 lead for Utah State at the break.
CSU’s first two drives of the game accounted for 142 yards and 10 points. Their last five drives of the first half went for a mere 91 yards including three punts and two times the team turned the ball over on downs. 21 straight points for Utah State as the Rams weren’t able to respond before the break.
And to start the second half, Wyatt Bryan sent the kickoff bouncing out of bounds; nothing seemed to go right after those early, solid, offensive drives.
But finally, something did go right for the Rams. After the defense forced a punt, Hill completed a pass in stride to Michael Gallup, who galloped down the field and into the end zone on a 60-yard pass and catch. Colorado State was down only one score, 24-17, with nearly the entire second half to play.
It looked like things would finally reverse for the Rams, as they resisted the beat-down and kept fighting stalwartly for the first time all season, forcing a fumble on Utah State’s second drive of the half. But, the offense couldn’t gain a single first down and they had to punt it back to the Aggies.
CSU’s defense did force a second straight stop, and then the offense went three-and-out while losing a yard along the way.
When the offense went off to start the game, the defense couldn’t stop anyone. The opposite was true in the second half as the team couldn’t play well on both sides of the ball at the same time.
Finally, ultimately, after the defense’s third straight stop of the half, the offense responded: Hill ran for 19 yards on a 2nd-and-20 and was injured, but Nick Stevens led the offense to the game-tying score when Izzy Matthews plunged into the end zone near the end of the third quarter.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, Dawkins rumbled 56-yards down the left sideline and Matthews pushed the ball over the goal line: 31-24 Rams.
In a complete reversal of fortune from last week, Colorado State scored 21 straight points on their opponents to regain the lead with 10:33 to go. CSU couldn’t run the clock out, and Utah State kept fighting, driving to the Rams 27 yard line before the defense earned a stop with 3:04 to go. Still, CSU couldn’t salt away the win, allowing the Aggies one, final offensive drive.
In the end, Kevin Davis picked off Myers and Colorado State held on to win, evening up their record at 3-3.
It was a much-needed victory in a key game, at home, in front of a massive crowd. Colorado State holds onto their chances of making a bowl game while knocking off one of the toughest defensive teams in the Mountain West all while earning their first conference victory of the year.
“Looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air.”