Camper sets CSU record, leads team to Homecoming win

Jeremiah Janzen

A'Jon Vivens runs toward the endzone Oct. 9.
A’Jon Vivens runs toward the endzone Oct. 9. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

Cayden Camper set a new Colorado State University record for field goals made in a single game and A’jon Vivens turned 31 carries into 114 rushing yards as the Rams (1-0 conference, 2-3 overall) secured a 32-14 victory over the San Jose State University Spartans (1-1 conference, 3-3 overall) on Homecoming Weekend.

Camper was successful on all six of his field-goal attempts on the day, including a career-high 53-yard boot. Todd Centeio added 232 yards and a score through the air on 19 of 23 attempts. Biletnikoff award hopeful Trey McBride hauled in six catches for 60 yards. Ryan Stonehouse also set a record of his own, becoming the only Rams punter to ever eclipse the 10,000-yard mark.

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I mean, who doesn’t want to be around that? What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon.” -head coach Steve Addazio 

Saturday’s win over the reigning Mountain West Conference champions marked the Rams’ first conference matchup of the season. The contest also marked the Rams’ first win at Canvas Stadium since Nov. 5, 2020, against the University of Wyoming. For head coach Steve Addazio, the Colorado State fans added to a special win.

“Our crowds have been fantastic,” Addazio said. “The student section has been unbelievable. … From the minute we got off the buses for the Ram Walk today, the streets were lined with Rams. And the energy and the atmosphere was just phenomenal.”

“I mean, who doesn’t want to be around that?” he asked. “What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon”.

A motivated Rams offense mixed things up early, feeding off the energy of a rowdy Canvas Stadium crowd. The Rams’ first series included Centeio finding five different receivers, a flea-flicker play and a one-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Thomas to cap off the drive.

San Jose State did not find the same success early on, as Spartans quarterback Nick Nash was intercepted by Jack Howell in the first few Spartan drives of the game. The turnover eventually resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Cayden Camper on the following possession.

Turnovers continued to plague San Jose State early in the second quarter, as Thomas Pannunzio recovered a fumble off a muffed punt return by the Spartans. Camper converted a 22-yard field goal, giving the Rams a hefty lead.

“I think it all starts with playing great defense,” Addazio said. “You win championships with great defense, … and right now we’re playing really good defense.”

After taking advantage of an uncharacteristically short punt by Stonehouse, the Spartans found some life late in the second quarter. Derrick Deese Jr. took an 18-yard run to the house on the ensuing two-play drive, giving San Jose State their first touchdown of the game. Following another Camper field goal, the Rams entered the halftime break leading 16-7.

A third-down sack by Manny Jones on one of the Spartans’ first drives of the second half forced San Jose State to punt and set the tone going forward for the Rams. On a drive, Centeio found Ty McCullouch for a 60-yard touchdown pass – McCullouch’s first of the season. The touchdown marked the longest of the season for Colorado State, who had previously struggled to score in the third quarter this season. A career-best 53-yard field goal by Camper provided the last score of the quarter for either side.

Following a dominant third quarter by the Rams, the fourth quarter painted a very similar picture. Defense proved to once again be key for the Rams, who allowed 114 yards rushing and only 154 yards passing. Lineman Scott Patchan finished the contest with one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss, while also adding a forced fumble in the fourth quarter. The Rams defense nearly held San Jose State scoreless in the second half, with their only points coming off a late 34-yard touchdown catch by Isaiah Hamilton. Reflecting on the win, Addazio acknowledged the positive steps this team has been making.

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“I just thought, more important than anything else, we learned how to elevate our team as a team,” Addazio said. “Guys learned how to elevate each other. We’re starting to take steps and learning how to close games out.”

The Rams will look to take their momentum on the road next weekend as they take on the University of New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, Oct. 16. The matchup will be the first road conference game of the season for the Rams. The last matchup between the two sides occurred in 2019 and resulted in a 35-21 Colorado State win.

Jeremiah Janzen can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @JeremiahJanzen.