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CSU vs. SDSU recap: Welcome back, fans

Cam the Ram interacts with fans on the New Belgium porch at Canvas Stadium on Sept. 3. The Rams lost to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. (Gregory James | The Collegian)

It was 650 days ago since fans stepped foot in Canvas Stadium. A little rain was not going to stop them from cheering on the Rams for their season opener against South Dakota State University Sept. 3.

With a 7:00 p.m. start time, the weather was cooling down. When gates opened at 5:30 p.m., however, the sun was still beating down on everybody. As fans enjoyed their tailgates and events outside the stadium, Mother Nature was preparing to make things difficult.

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At game time, Colorado State was forced to issue a lightning delay. Fans were supposed to exit the stadium and get into safety, but nothing was stopping fans from being in the bleachers. The student section erupted with the famous “no” chant, and after 45 minutes of delay, CSU football was back with a sea of green cheering them on.

“We had an electric night here with one of the largest opening day crowds,” coach Steve Addazio said. “It was a hell of an atmosphere, (I) appreciate the student body and all of the fans.” 

On the field, it was a slow start. The Rams were forced to punt on their first three possessions. South Dakota State went scoreless on its first two drives. With about three minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Jackrabbits hustled downfield to break open the scoring. Pierre Strong, Jr. broke away for a 48-yard touchdown run to go up 7-0.

The Rams were quick to answer back though. With 11:51 in the second quarter, David Bailey forced his way in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown to tie it up. After the Bailey touchdown, the Jackrabbits controlled the half.

SDSU put up two more touchdowns in the first half. CSU got a field goal. The Jackrabbits finished the half with 280 total yards, 116 rushing yards, 164 passing yards and a lead of 21-10. The Rams had 210 total yards, 53 rushing yards, and 157 passing yards. 

Todd Centeio had an efficient half with 157 yards on 15-21 throwing (134.2 rating). Trey McBride and Dante Wright were showing themselves as the lethal receiving duo CSU fans have come to love. McBride finished the half with 68 yards on eight targets. Wright finished the half with 70 yards on seven targets

The Jackrabbits skipped no beat coming out of the locker room. With 10:56 remaining in the third quarter, SDSU scored again, increasing their lead to 28-10.

“The student section was rocking,” CSU lineman Scott Patchan said. “It was a shame we couldn’t give them what they came (for). At the end of the day, you want them to win, you want them to keep coming back. Winning cures everything, so that’s our focus.”

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Most of the crowd did not make it past halftime. The CSU student section went from a sea of green to clumps of green surrounded by steel bleachers. After the quick touchdown out of the half, the bleachers became even more visible. However, the groups of blue chanting “let’s go rabbits” remained to watch their team dominate. 

With 5:37 remaining in the quarter, most of the hope was sucked out of the home crowd. SDSU forced a fumble and followed it up with a big 32-yard rush. Then, to seemingly put the nail in the coffin, the Jackrabbits scored on a two-yard rush to extend the lead 35-10 with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter.

Colorado State Quarterback Evan Olaes scrambles out of the pocket in the Rams’ football game on Sept. 3. The Rams lost 42-23 against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. (Gregory James | The Collegian)

CSU scored a touchdown early in the fourth to dig into SDSU’s lead. After a failed two-point conversion, CSU was down 35-16 with 12:53 remaining in the game. However, with the low percentage chance of a comeback, SDSU scored again, increasing the lead 42-16 with 8:35 remaining.

While the big story of the day was the return of fans to Canvas Stadium to cheer on their football team, it ended with a completely dominant game for SDSU. Canvas returned to a socially distanced crowd with more blue and yellow than green and gold. The final score was 42-23 with an SDSU win.

In the post-game presser, wide receiver McBride had a message to the fans: “Stick with us.”

“One game’s not going to ruin the whole season,” McBride said. “I appreciate everyone coming out; that was awesome. We need that. That fuels us to play; gives us momentum, energy and enthusiasm throughout the game. We appreciate everyone who came out.”

Tyler Meguire can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TMeguire.

Editor’s Note: The ending quote was originally misattributed to Scott Patchan, and has accurately been attributed to Trey McBride.

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