CSU overcomes third quarter collapse to defeat San Jose State

Eddie Herz

The Colorado State University Rams held on to earn a much-needed 42-30 victory over the San Jose State University  Spartans on Saturday night.

CSU began the game firing on all cylinders and led 28-0 at the end of the first half. The opening two quarters of play represented the most balanced, all-around single-half performance in 2018 by the Rams.

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When the third quarter began, it seemed as if CSU was going to coast to a stress-free victory.

However, as head coach Mike Bobo made a switch at quarterback, the Spartans simultaneously came roaring back. SJSU scored 30 points in the third quarter, capped by a safety to give the Spartans their first lead of the game.

SJSU snatched all of CSU’s momentum in a matter of minutes as the Rams quickly collapsed. CSU’s defense, in particular, was exhausted and faced with adversity. The defensive unit and team altogether resiliently responded.

“I reiterated what I said at the hotel, I said ‘it’s gonna be a roller coaster game’,” Coach Mike Bobo said. “We probably didn’t imagine that it was gonna be this big of a roller coaster ride.”

Redshirt senior quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels returned to the game for Collin Hill late in the third quarter, and eventually led the Rams to a crucial 11-play, 83-yard touchdown drive. This gave CSU 35-30 lead it would never surrender.

On the following possession, freshman cornerback Rashad Ajayi took back a Josh Love interception 55 yards to the end zone. Senior safety Jordan Fogal put the game on ice minutes later by picking off Love’s heave to the end zone.

CSU improved to 2-4 with the win and 1-1 in Mountain West play.

Carta-Samuels came out poised, despite his starting quarterback job being up in the air in the days leading up to the game.

The Washington transfer set a career high by throwing four touchdown passes in the opening half. In total, Carta-Samuels completed 14-27 passes and threw for 162 yards on Saturday.

Wide receivers Preston Williams and Warren Jackson each accounted for two touchdowns in the first half. The game marked the second multi-touchdown performance of Jackson’s career.

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Notably, the Rams finally found a way to establish a rushing attack after exponentially struggling to do so this season.

Senior running back Izzy Matthews eclipsed 100 yards on the ground for the fourth time of his career. Matthews accumulated 125 yards on 22 carries. The running back made his presence known early by notching 16-yard and 22-yard scampers on CSU’s first offensive drive.

Before facing SJSU, Matthews had rushed for only 208 yards in five games.

“(Having a run game) was awesome,” Carta-Samuels said. “To get in second and short and be able to have the whole playbook wide open is a pretty awesome feeling.”

Defensively, junior college transfer and Germany native Jan-Phillip Bombek emerged as an impact defensive lineman. Bombek became the first Ram since Kevin Davis in 2016 to record three sacks in a game.

“We got challenged this week by our coach to get after the quarterback,” Bombek said. “We had (a) really good week of practice (the) past two weeks during the bye week.”

Collectively, CSU combined for six sacks after only earning two sacks this season before Saturday.

The Rams are back in action at Canvas Stadium next Saturday when they face the 3-2 New Mexico Lobos at 2 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on AT&T Sportsnet.

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.