Crazy comeback at Canvas nullified by penalty, Rams lose 29-24 to Utah State

Olabisi Johnson, a senior, with a catch. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.
Olabisi Johnson, a senior, with a catch. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

Colorado State and Utah State are heading in opposite directions.

The Rams have now extended their losing streak to four games while the Aggies’ 10-game win streak makes them the best in the Mountain West, narrowly beating CSU 29-24 in Canvas Stadium’s first snow game.

Despite Utah State’s No. 14 ranking, Colorado State kept it competitive all day long, trailing 10-7 at halftime. In the second half, a gutsy fake punt led to a late touchdown drive by CSU to bring the Rams within three points. Utah State answered with a field goal, as the Rams defense bent but didn’t break, and Mike Bobo’s Rams found a way to mount a last-minute touchdown drive to steal the one-point lead late.

But, the Rams defense, which has been atrocious, gave up a 71-yard drive in less than a minute of game time to lose the lead and the game 29-24. The offense, with 43 seconds left, tried and failed to score, which would have been their second comeback of the game, ultimately losing on Senior Day.

“I was proud of the effort and the fight,” head coach Mike Bobo said after the loss. “I thought we looked like a football team today, really the first time all year.”

Collin Hill tossed up a Hail Mary to Preston Williams in the front corner of the end zone, but Williams was judged to have run out of bounds before the catch, which is illegal. Ending the game somewhat controversially.

Bobo’s Rams started strong, holding Utah State — the No. 1 scoring team in the nation — to a mere field goal in the first quarter, trailing 3-0 after one frame. But the Rams really shot themselves in the foot on the next drive; after moving to the nine yard line, Collin Hill was late and behind Preston Williams on a throw, and the ball bounced off Williams’ hands and resulted in a 95-yard pick-6 for Utah State. CSU trailed 10-0 and all looked lost.

But, Bobo’s offense was hot despite the frigid weather; the Rams marched down — with the help of a big pass play from Hill to Williams down the seam — and Izzy Matthews trotted into the end zone to bring it to 10-7. Colorado State had a chance to either take the lead or at least tie the game before halftime, getting the ball back with 3:41 on the clock, but they seemed content with going into halftime trailing by three points. The home crowd, which was sparse, booed the choice, which was a missed opportunity by the home team to take some momentum into the second half.

Utah State was stopped on their first drive of that second half, and the Rams answered with a 65-yard drive, settling for a 19-yard field goal to tie the game up 10-10. Curiously, facing a 3rd and goal from the two yard line, Bobo elected to pitch the ball to Izzy Matthews outside, a play that lost yards and forced the field goal. It was a second missed opportunity to take the lead for CSU.

Meanwhile, the Aggies answered with a lengthy drive of their own in which the Rams defense bent but didn’t break, forcing a 26-yard field goal which was good.

But, then Hill’s errant passing sank the Rams for a second time; a second pick-6, this time from 32 yards out, pushed Utah State ahead 20-10 late in the third quarter.

Trailing by 10, and just into the fourth quarter, Bobo elected to call a fake punt pass, which worked; V.J. Banks caught the ball and gained the first down, keeping the Rams alive. That gutsy call by Bobo extended the Rams drive, which was eventually capped with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Preston Williams, bringing the game to 20-17, Utah State with 10:36 to go.

Once again, the Rams defense bent and didn’t break; they held the Aggies to a 37-yard field goal, trailing 23-17 with 7:00 minutes left on the clock in regulation.

The Rams offense was called for multiple penalties and had to punt the ball away, but that punt was fumbled and recovered on the 20 yard line by Colorado State. Two plays later, the Rams took their first lead of the day at 24-23 with only 1:36 left on the clock.

It was a sensational comeback, but it ended in misery as the defense gave up a 71-yard touchdown drive to the Aggies to seemingly lose the game 29-24.

The Rams, with only 43 seconds left, drove all the way down and scored; Hill hit Williams but only after Williams ran out of bounds. So, it was illegal touching, nullifying the game-winning score.

Notes:

Izzy Matthews enjoyed a great game, with 20 carries for 100 yards to lead the Rams on Senior Day.

Olabisi Johnson, another senior, led the Rams in receiving with seven receptions for 107 yards.

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