Video by Patrick Enslow and Travis Green, CTV11
The big plays were there all day for the Colorado State football team, who beat Tulsa 42-17 on Saturday at Hughes Stadium in their annual Aggie Day “Orange Out.”
CSU’s offense once again showed the balance head coach Jim McElwain is looking for by picking up 234 yards on the ground to go along with 298 passing yards.
“That was a really satisfying win,” McElwain said. “It’s one that’s been sticking in our paw for a year now. Based on what happened a year ago against these guys, I felt our guys came out with the right attitude.”
Senior quarterback Garrett Grayson completed 12 of 18 passing attempts for 236 yards, three touchdowns and one interception while continually finding sophomore wideout Rashard Higgins throughout the first half. The man nicknamed “Hollywood” gave the 25,806 fans in attendance a show, finishing six catches for 178 yards and four touchdowns.
“Offensively, we knew we could get some shots on these guys,” McElwain said. “Rashard Higgins showed some explosive playmaking ability that we knew he had in him.”
Higgins made history by reaching 100 career receptions in fewer games than any player in CSU history (19). His four touchdowns are a new single-game school record as well. Three of those touchdowns came in the first half, the most by a CSU wideout in a half since 2008.
“I’ve never had four touchdowns,” Higgins said. “That felt good, too.”
CSU was able to build a commanding 28-0 by the second quarter before taking their foot off of the pedal in the third quarter. The Rams struck early when Dee Hart broke a 53-yard run on the opening drive and then finished the job on a 14-yard touchdown run a few plays later. Hart finished the game with 11 carries for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
But it was all Higgins for the rest of the first half. His first score came after an interception by sophomore cornerback Preston Hodges, the next was set up by a career-long 63-yard run by Jasen Oden, and the third was a screen pass that he took 73 yards to put the Rams up 28-0.
“I’m really having fun,” Higgins said. “We saw they like to play a cover-4 so we practiced post routes. I got tired of running them in practice but we threw some posts in the game and scored on them.”
Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans dove into the endzone from a yard out to put the Golden Hurricane on the board before the half and cut the deficit to 28-7. Evans finished the game with 16 completions on 29 passing attempts for 222 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Wideout Keevan Lucas led the Golden Hurricane with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown.
In the second half, senior wideout Charles Lovett kept his streak of games played with consecutive receptions alive. His 62-yarder early in the third quarter led to Hart powering the ball in for his second touchdown of the day. Tulsa put together a 66-yard drive that culminated in a field goal for the only other score in the third quarter.
Backup quarterback Nick Stevens played almost the entire fourth quarter. He completed his first career touchdown on a 36-yard pass to none other than Higgins.
“I said ‘Nick, how did that feel bro? I told you man, you throw me the ball, I’m going to get it in the endzone. I don’t care where it’s at. I’m going to get in the end zone for you.’” Higgins told reporters in the postgame press conference.
The Rams defense also came up big as well with six sacks and two interceptions.
“Defensively, we were trying to create some one-dimensional play out of them,” McElwain said. “Stopped the run a little bit and were able to affect the passer. Guys got after them pretty good.”
Joe Kawulok recorded 3.5 sacks but credited the defensive backs for buying him extra time to rush the passer.
“We have a lot of confidence as a team right now,” Kawulok said. “Everyone plays for each other.”
The Rams begin conference play next week at Nevada on Saturday, October 11 at 8:30 p.m MST.
Collegian Sports Reporter Emmett McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @emccarthy22.