(Highlights by Travis Green/CTV11)
Just like Colorado State’s season thus far, the 2015 Rocky Mountain Showdown was full of ups and downs. The Buffs (2-1) weathered an early storm from the Rams and went on to outlast CSU (1-2), the game ended in overtime with a 27-24 win for CU – bringing statewide bragging rights back to Boulder.
“We’ve got to look at the positives, we’ve got to correct the mistakes and we’ve got to continue to get better,” head coach Mike Bobo said.
The game started off positively for the Rams, who scored on their second and third drives of the game. Keeping a quick tempo and committing to the run game, the Rams opened up the scoring with a 13-yard scamper up the middle by running back Dalyn Dawkins.
“Dalyn Dawkins is a stud, he might weigh 173 pounds soaking wet, but he’s the hardest worker on our football team,” Bobo said.
Dawkins’ work on the ground opened up the air attack, and on their next possession star wide receiver Rashard Higgins reeled in a 25-yard touchdown pass at 2:44 in the first quarter.
“Anytime my presence is being felt it brings a lot of energy to the team,” Higgins said.
Higgins’ touchdown would end the excitement for the first quarter, at which point the Rams lead 14-0. Quarterback Nick Stevens had a strong opening quarter, finishing 7-of-8 with 68 yards and a touchdown.
The Buffaloes got the scoring going in the second quarter, when kicker Diego Gonzalez nailed a 52-yard field goal after a 12 play drive, totaling 36 yards. Soon after, Sefo Liufau connected on a 65-yard touchdown pass to Shay Fields, cutting CSU’s lead to 14-10 and handing CU the momentum.
On the Rams’ next drive, Stevens came up short by throwing an interception down field on a pass intended for wide out Joe Hansley. The half would end locked 14-10 in favor of the Rams, and Stevens finished the half 12-for-18 with a touchdown and an interception.
“I definitely felt like I had a better day today than last week, I think the offense moved the ball, we did well but … anytime you lose it definitely hurts, especially in overtime, especially a rivalry game,” Stevens said.
The Buffs started the second half right where they left off – with all of the momentum. Coming out of the locker room, CU capitalized on a 9-play, 75-yard drive, culminating in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Liufau to receiver Devin Ross in the back of the end zone.
In need of a bounce-back drive, CSU looked strong in their response. Set up by a 42-yard run by Dawkins, the Rams scored on a 24-yard field goal off of the foot of kicker Wyatt Bryan, tying the game at 17-17 at the 6:54 mark of the third quarter.
“He made the one to clinch it into overtime last week, we feel like he’s the best guy … but we’ve got to do a better job on offense and not settling for field goals,” Bobo said.
From here, the Rams and the Buffs were pitted in a defensive battle, with one stop after another until Buffs linebacker Kevin Olugbode intercepted a deflected Stevens pass and brought it to the house, giving CU a 24-17 lead.
“The guy made a great play, we were cracking the backside linebacker and he came off the tight end and made a good play,” Bobo said. “You have to credit him for making that play.”
But on the Rams’ very next drive, they moved the ball down the field methodically and tied the game up at 24-24 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jasen Oden, Jr.
The Rams forced CU’s offense to punt on their next possession, and took the ball back over with the score still tied and 2:37 remaining.
With the stadium shaking, Stevens hit receiver Deonte Gaines for a 33-yard gain on the second play of the drive. But after a couple incomplete passes they were forced to punt the ball away.
CU got the ball back with 1:02 left to go in the game. With just two seconds left, kicker Diego Gonzalez lined up from 48 yards out and missed it, sending the game into overtime for the second consecutive week.
The Rams started off with the ball in overtime, and had to settle for a field goal attempt. Bryan’s 27-yard try was blocked at the line. CU capitalized and won the game on a 32-yard field goal from Gonzalez.
Despite another heartbreaking result, Bobo said his team will not be deterred by the loss.
“The easy thing to do is say we’re 1-2 and stop working the way we’re working,” Bobo said. “But that’s not how I work and that’s not how my team will work.”
Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Huebnermedia93.