LOGAN, Utah — Colorado State carries a locked chain onto the field before every game, as if to say, “Lock the doors, we’re ready for a fight.”
The Rams got knocked down and eventually out Saturday night against Utah State.
Led by an attacking defense that came up with just enough plays to limit the Rams’ offense, Utah State handed CSU (2-3, 0-1 Mountain West) its first true road loss of the season, knocking off the Rams 33-18 at Maverik Stadium in Logan.
CSU quarterback Nick Stevens completed just 21 of 45 passes, and the Rams had a number of missed opportunities, including dropped passes and two key fumbles.
“It’s pretty evident that going away, if you make that many mistakes, you’re not going to have a chance to win the ball game,” CSU head coach Mike Bobo said.
Colorado State’s defense was unable to slow down Utah State quarterback Kent Myers, who rushed for school-record 191 yards on 16 carries, including 124 in the first half. Injured starter Chuckie Keeton previously held the school record with 121.
On the Aggies’ second drive of the game, CSU forced a 53-yard field goal attempt by USU kicker Jake Thompson, which sailed wide left. But an offsides penalty on the Rams gave Thompson another shot – this time from 48 yards – and he knocked it through the uprights.
CSU responded with 10 straight points, a 42-yard field goal from Wyatt Bryan and a 16-yard touchdown from Stevens to Rashard Higgins, extending his school-record to 27 for his career.
But on the legs of Myers, the Aggies scored 14 unanswered to close the half with a 17-10 lead. On USU’s final drive of the half, Myers scampered for runs of 34 and 26 yards, the second resulting in USU’s second touchdown of the quarter.
Utah State’s halftime homecoming festivities were cancelled though, after lightning delayed the game for 32 minutes beyond the normal 25-minute halftime break.
When the weather subsided, CSU started the half exactly the way it didn’t want to, giving up a fumble on the second play from scrimmage when Stevens was sacked by USU defensive tackle David Moala. Linebacker Kyler Fackrell picked it up and rumbled to the CSU 8-yard line, but the Rams were able to hold the Aggies to a field goal.
It was awful,” Stevens said of the Rams’ turnover woes. “At the same time, taking a good thing from it, the defense stopped them for a field goal. It’s good that the defense was able to have some sudden change and come out and stop them. But those really hurt us, it could’ve been two scoring drives that put us ahead.”
A three-and-out by the CSU offense was followed by another Aggies field goal, extending their lead to 23-10 with 5:15 to play in the third quarter.
On their next drive though, CSU drove all the way to the USU 21, before running back Dalyn Dawkins fumbled, giving the Aggies the ball back at their own 13-yard line.
The Rams had the chance to get off the field on third-and-18, but a personal foul penalty on defensive end SteveO Michel gave the Aggies an automatic first down. They capitalized with Brock Warren’s third field goal of the game – this time from 34 yards out – to take a commanding 26-10 lead with 13:34 to play in the fourth quarter.
CSU wouldn’t go away though, driving 77 yards in seven plays, capped off by a 15-yard touchdown run from Stevens. A completion to Higgins on the ensuing 2-point conversion brought CSU within 8, 26-18.
With a chance to tie the game, CSU started from its own 13, but after a first down, the Rams were called for false start penalties twice in a row. On third-and-long, Stevens scrambled for a first down, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. Following a CSU punt, the Aggies put the final nail in the coffin on a 33-yard touchdown run by LaJuan Hunt to shut the door.
“We’ve just got to come back next week and be ready to play Boise State because we’re going to back to work on Monday and preparing for them,” linebacker Kiel Robinson said.
CSU hosts the defending Mountain West champion Broncos Saturday at 5 p.m. at Hughes Stadium. The game will be broadcast on on CBS Sports Network.
Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.