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Utah State’s offensive attack proved too much for CSU to handle Saturday night.
The Aggies man-handled CSU at the line of scrimmage controlling the clock and the game on route to a 31-19 victory.
“I thought the kids executed, made big plays, which they had to do. I am proud of the kids,” Utah State coach Gary Andersen said.
Utah State wasted no time, striking on its first possession on a 26-yard run by running back Kerwynn Williams with 9:52 remaining in the first quarter.
CSU found itself in a 10-0 whole at the end of the first quarter, and were unable to dig out of it.
The Rams couldn’t generate any sustained offense, running no more than six plays on any of their first four drives. They finished the first half with 61 yards of total offense on 27 plays.
“We’re gettin’ no rhythm offensively,” CSU coach Jim McElwain said following the game. “And rhythm is very important in this game. We got some really good stuff. and what we need to do is make sure we can handle it and do what’s right for the guys that are playing in the game.”
In the second half, CSU found some improvement offensively thanks to freshman Tommey Morris. Morris sparked the Rams with a 27-yard scamper in the third quarter, and finished the game with a season-high 76 yards on just eight carries.
CSU’s defense came to life as well, turning Utah State over on three straight possessions going back to the final drive of the second half. Freshman safety Trent Matthews picked off Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton in the third quarter, and corner Shaq Bell intercepted Keeton’s next pass attempt on the ensuing possession.
“(The defense) they really, I thought, showed flashes,” McElwain said. “I thought that they played hard. They gave up a big play there, but they came up with a couple turnovers and gave us an opportunity.”
However, the Rams could only muster six point off the three turnovers.
“We’ve got to put touchdowns on the board when we’re down there,” McElwain said.
Utah State responded from the turnovers with a second home run play from Williams, who scored his second touchdown of the game on a 58-yard carry with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. Williams abused a porous CSU defense all night, gaining 205 yards on 21 carries and the two scores.
“It’s always hard to get a win on the road, especially in a place like this,” Williams said. “We haven’t played well here in the past, so it’s definitely a big win, big win for the team.”
Quarterback Garrett Grayson took the Rams down the field in 15 plays for their first touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 24-12 after failing on the two-point conversion with 10:40 left in the game. But the Aggies answered with a 15-yard touchdown run from Joe Hill.
“We’ve come out every game and started slow like that, and then the second half it seems like things click,” Grayson said. “I really don’t know the answer. We’re all watching film. I’m watching more film than I’ve ever watched since I’ve been here.”
CSU struggled getting the correct personnel and formations at several points in the second half, causing it to use all three timeouts early on, making Another Grayson touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Law with 1:43 left in the game was no more than a feel good score.
“I’m disappointed enough for all of Fort Collins, all of Colorado and everybody that’s a Rams fan,” McElwain said. “But I will not let that get me down. I know what we’re doin’ is right, and our guys know it because I can see it in their eyes.”
The loss drops CSU to 1-3 on the season heading into next week’s conference opener against Air Force.
For more coverage, be sure to check back on collegian.com and pick up Monday’s issue for full, in-depth game coverage.
Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.