Highlights provided by Olivia Landis, Karlee Schwarzkopf and Aislyn Carrillo — CTV Sports
What looked like Border War déjà vu at the end of the first half turned into a comeback victory for Colorado State.
CSU (3-3, 1-1 Mountain West) battled back from a 14-point halftime deficit to stun Utah State (2-4, 0-3 MW) 31-24 under the lights at Hughes Stadium in front of 32,387 fans — maybe 15,000 sticking it out for the whole game.
Heading into the game a point of emphasis for the Rams was to contain Aggies’ dual-threat quarterback Kent Myers. Myers was able to cause the Rams fits in the first half as he ran for two touchdowns, but was bottled up in the second half. Myers finished the day 19 of 34 for 210 yards through the air with one interception and 15 carries for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
CSU quarterback Collin Hill was taken to the locker room following a 19-yard run late in the third quarter, injuring his knee on the play. Redshirt junior Nick Stephens came in to replace Hill.
Hill finished the game 14-25 for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Hill will undergo an MRI to examine the severity of his injury. Stephens finished the game out, completing three of seven pass attempts for 37 yards.
During the opening moments, a shootout looked to be on hand.
The CSU offense was able to start fast. Seeing the ball first, junior running back Dalyn Dawkins led the Rams down the field on four carries for 57 yards. The drive stalled in the red zone however, as kicker Wyatt Bryan came on to hit a 21-yard field goal, putting CSU up 3-0. Dawkins finished the game with 14 carries for 125 yards.
The ensuing Utah State possession looked like a carry over from last week’s 38-17 loss to Wyoming in the Border War for the CSU defense. A 26-yard run by Utah State’s Tonny Lindsey set up a 41-yard touchdown run right up the middle by Gerold Bright, putting the Aggies up 7-3. Utah State needed only four plays and 59 seconds on the drive.
CSU responded quickly, as the Rams drove 75 yards in 3:12 to re-take the lead off a 19-yard strike from Hill to Olabisi Johnson. Johnson had two catches for 38 yards on the drive.
For CSU, that was it for first half scoring. The next five drives resulted in three punts and two turnovers-on-downs. Utah State, on the other hand, continued their hot start.
Myers led the Aggies on back-to-back scoring drives. Myers gave CSU fits, running for a 4-yard touchdown and a 14-yard touchdown on the drives, respectively. The Aggies would tack on a 36-yard field goal, taking a 24-10 lead into halftime and clearing much of the stands.
For CSU fans, leaving was a bad idea.
“I told them, I said, ‘if we’ll play, we’ll continue to play hard … the ball will bounce our way,'” CSU head coach Mike Bobo said about the locker room message at half.
The ball, and the score, did bounce CSU’s way in the second half, largely due to the team’s defensive play.
The Rams came out in the second half to score 21 unanswered points, highlighted by a 60-yard throw and catch by Collin Hill and wide receiver Michael Gallup. Hill hit Gallup over the middle, Gallup did the rest as he outraced Utah State defenders to cut the Aggie lead down to seven.
“It’s obviously a momentum builder,” Gallup said on the 60-yard touchdown. “We were running slants pretty much the whole game and coached called my number, and you’ve got to produce. It was a good feeling and we just have to have more of it.”
The CSU defense hit the restart button at half, holding Utah State scoreless. CSU cornerback Tyree Simmons forced a fumble after the Gallup score, setting CSU up in Utah State territory.
“That is just a boost for our defense. That is huge confidence for as young as we are,” linebacker Kevin Davis said. “TO be able to go out there in the second half of the game and shutout Utah State, also give the ball back to our offense.”
While leading the team into the red zone, Hill went down with a knee injury mid-drive, being replaced by Nick Stevens. Stevens came in and threw his first pass at Gallup’s shins, but composed himself for a third down completion to Gallup the next play.
“It felt really good,” Stevens said about coming in and getting the third down conversion. “I think it was huge for us, it was able to put us back in a tie game and it gave me confidence.”
The conversion set up Izzy Matthews for a game-tying 1-yard touchdown run knotting things up at 24-24.
One drive later, Matthews made the comeback complete. With ball on the Utah State 10-yard line, Matthews bullied himself into the end zone, giving the Rams their first lead since the first quarter.
The CSU defense put the finishing touches on the game. Senior linebacker Kevin Davis came up with the game-sealing interception with 47 seconds remaining, giving the Rams a 31-24 comeback win over Utah State.
“I truly believe that we can build something special here,” Bobo said. “It takes time when there is change, and i said this last year, but everything does not happen the way you want it. It is one victory, it is one victory for us.”
Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChadDeutschman