Rams dominate Utah State in second conference game of season

Justin Michael

LOGAN, Utah- Led by senior quarterback Nick Stevens, Colorado State football (4-2) went into Maverik Stadium Saturday afternoon and dismantled Utah State (3-3) 27-14 in front of the home fans. From start to finish, the Rams genuinely dominated every aspect of the game, never giving the Aggies a chance to establish themselves on either side of the ball. 

Senior quarterback Nick Stevens delivers a throw in the pocket in Saturday's game against Utah State. Photo courtesy of CSU Athletics.
Senior quarterback Nick Stevens delivers a throw in the pocket in Saturday’s game against Utah State. Photo courtesy of CSU Athletics.

Stevens moved the offense up and down the field at ease and despite losing starting safety Jamal Hicks, who was ejected from the contest after being called for targeting early in the first quarter, the Rams defense stifled Utah State’s offensive attack from the get-go.

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Offensively, CSU primarily relied on the arm of Stevens and the hands of wide receiver Michael Gallup, especially in the first half. Seemingly every play the Rams’ senior wide receiver was running wide open down the field and when that happened, No. 7 was right there to distribute the ball to his No. 1 target.

When the final whistle sounded, Stevens finished 22-of-31 for 293 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns. His leading pass-catcher, Gallup, totalled seven receptions on ten targets for 88 yards.

“He’s been taking what the defense gives them,” Bobo said of his starting quarterback. “That’s what you have to do to move the football, you have to take completions. We’re going to throw the ball vertically enough that when we do call something and they’re playing back, (he’ll) check it down. I think he has done a nice job of that.”

Along with the success through the air, head coach Mike Bobo also worked in a steady mix of the running backs into the game plan. Although the Rams did not see quite as much success on the ground, they were eventually able to wear down the Aggies defense and pound the rock throughout the the second half. 

“Sometimes games are like this. Sometimes they are ugly,” Bobo said of his team’s approach in the second half. “It was pretty in the first quarter but it turned into an ugly game. We knew that we needed to take the air out of the ball to win the game.” 

Bobo explained that while his team certainly left points on the board Saturday, the ability to control the tempo in the second half and sit on the lead was huge. After giving up a blocked punt for a touchdown in the second quarter the Aggies found some life offensively. The Rams’ ability to lean on the ground game helped them offset the small spark for Utah State and ultimately bury the Aggies in the final two quarters.

Dalyn Dawkins (1) cuts through the Utah State defense in Saturday's victory.
Dalyn Dawkins (1) cuts through the Utah State defense in Saturday’s victory. Photo courtesy of CSU Athletics

Starting running back Dalyn Dawkins led the team in carries and yards gained on the ground, finishing the game with 21 carries for 121 yards. 

Izzy Matthews also had a strong showing against the Aggies, as the California native totaled 20 carries for 84 yards and one rushing touchdown. In the game Matthews displayed his strength as a runner, consistently dropping his shoulder and going straight through the USU defenders.

In total, CSU out-gained Utah State in total yardage, 510 to 203, and recorded 16 more first downs in the game. The Rams were also a perfect 5-of-5 in the red zone and converted on 6-of-14 third down opportunities. 

While the Aggies were able to slightly close the gap of the final score with a 21-yard touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Rams were always in control of the ballgame. CSU will look to carry the momentum of Saturday’s victory into Homecoming weekend, when the Rams will host Nevada on Oct. 14. 

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Collegian sports director Justin Michael can be reached by email at jmichael@collegian.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.