CSU loses fourth-straight Showdown, remains winless on the year

Luke Zahlmann

If Colorado State drew up their worst-case scenario to begin the Rocky Mountain Showdown, it would have looked a lot like their start against the University of Colorado.

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After deferring the ball until the second half, the Rams allowed CU to drive down the field in only five plays, concluded by a Steven Montez 38-yard keeper. The Buffaloes went to a hurry-up offense after just the first play and left the Rams gasping for air with positive plays on every snap of the drive.

“We got punched in the mouth the first drive,” redshirt senior Jordan Fogal said. “I didn’t think we moved forward from that… a lot of guys, they were just big-eyed.” 

CSU football players are dogpiled during the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The Rams lost to the Buffs 13-45. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

The second drive was more of the same for CSU as transfer V.J. Banks was burned deep by CU sophomore K.D. Nixon, leading to an easy pitch and catch from the arm of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list nominee.

CU’s standout quarterback started the game seven for seven and had a perfect start the first two drives with his first incompletion coming on his 13th throw of the game with an interception during the opening play of the second quarter.

The interception was made by Banks on an under-throw down the sideline into double coverage. Unfortunately for the Rams, a tipped ball gave possession right back to CU on the proceeding drive.

Montez followed the miscue with another scoring drive, leading Colorado down the field in eight plays, with a four-yard back shoulder throw to redshirt senior Juwann Winfree to seal it.

Outside of the opening coin toss, the Rams struggled to be victorious in any facet of the game. The defense looked similar to the one that took the field against Hawaii but marginally worse. CSU entered the locker room at halftime with a glaring 18-point deficit spawned by Montez who was 18-20 passing with 205 yards and three touchdowns with 38 on the ground and another score.

“We talk a lot of game but it doesn’t show out there,” Banks said. “We need a reality check.”

The final straw came in the form of an 89-yard touchdown reception by sophomore receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. in which he caught a dump-off pass and ran untouched for over 70 yards early in the third quarter. The sprint came without opposition for the Rams’ defense.

Shenault finished the game with 211 yards, a Rocky Mountain Showdown record passing Paul Richardson who accrued 208 in the 2013 matchup, good for the fourth-most in team history overall. 

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The Rams’ offense was unable to find a rhythm of their own following an early scoring drive. 

“We need to just go out there and play football and do our job,” senior Olabisi Johnson said. “I think we have all the weapons we need… we gotta come out faster.” 

The showdown ended unceremoniously by a final of 45-13 after several short drives from CSU and attempts to run the clock by the Buffaloes

After the deficit grew to 25, the Rams inserted backup quarterback and team captain Collin Hill. Hill, coming off of a second torn ACL this offseason, was medically cleared last week and was on the sidelines as an emergency option.

The Rams put quarterback KJ Carta-Samuels back in the game after only a pair of drives from Hill.

The Rams were in desperation mode most of the game as the quarterback swap was amongst several lineup changes including the constant shuffling at linebacker.

Just when the Rams thought the defense had hit a low point, a deeper hole was created as missed assignments and poor tackling once again plagued them. An emphasis in the week for new Defensive Coordinator John Jancek, the Rams failed to reverse their poor tackling in the short week leading up to the matchup.

CSU football players sing the alma mater with the marching band after their defeat by CU at the Rocky Mountain Showdown. (Tony VIllalobos May | Collegian)

The Showdown ended unceremoniously by with final score of 45-13 after several short drives from CSU and attempts to run the clock by the Buffaloes. Montez finished the game on the bench for the whole fourth quarter after he completed 22 of his 25 attempts for 338 yards and five total touchdowns.

“First thing we gotta do is fix ourselves — offense and defense and special teams,” coach Mike Bobo said. “That’s not gonna be easy, but it will get done.”

The winless Rams will head home in hopes of reversing course against Arkansas Sept. 9, a game that has been designated as a Military Appreciation matchup.

Collegian Sports Director Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.