Rams football ends season with first shutout victory since 2016

Defensive+back+Brandon+Guzman+%2816%29+catches+a+pass

Collegian | Serena Bettis

Defensive back Brandon Guzman (16) catches a pass during the Colorado State University game against The University of New Mexico Nov. 25. The Rams won 17-0 in their last game of the season.

Mike Walsh

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

Defense kept it close for most of the game, but Fort Air Raid was the difference on Colorado State University football’s Senior Day.

For the first time in over a month, the Rams secured a 17-0 victory over The University of New Mexico. The Rams, who played for the last time at Canvas Stadium this season, honored their 17 seniors before the game.

Ad

The victory marks the Rams’ 12th straight against the Lobos, who finish their season winless in the Mountain West Conference. The Rams’ 3-9 record matches that of last season, contrary to what many had hoped following head coach Jay Norvell’s arrival to the program in need of a turnaround.

It took nearly a full half of football to be played before either team scored a point. After 26 minutes and 26 seconds of a defensive stalemate, Clay Millen found Justus Ross-Simmons on a beautiful 21-yard pass down the left side for a touchdown. Up to that point, there had been nine punts between the two teams. 

Millen’s first full season as a starting quarterback was a record-breaking one in terms of consistency. Despite being sacked as much as any quarterback in college football, Millen broke CSU’s single-season record for completion percentage at 72.2%. It’s the first time that any CSU quarterback threw more than 70% for a season.

“That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment for a young kid that hasn’t started before,” Norvell said. “I think he’s got something that we can build on. We love to throw the football.”

Though the defense from both teams was stellar, the Rams needed every bit of Millen’s consistency to pull out a victory against the Lobos. Going 19 for 24 on the day for 214 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, Fort Air Raid proved to be the difference.

The second touchdown on the day was yet another connection between Millen and Mountain West receiving-yard leader Tory Horton. Their final touchdown connection of the season was a bomb down the right sideline for a 41-yard score.

“Just the amount of time (Horton and Millen) worked on certain leverage and eye communication … that plays a big factor in what you saw out there in the game today,” Horton said. “That’s just something we work on a lot.”

CSU’s defense pitched their first shutout since 2016, forcing nine punts and allowing only nine first downs on 13 drives. Three defensive starters for the Rams have exhausted their eligibility, making this their last college game, so it was only natural for them to leave everything out on the field. 

“I’m so proud of our defense tonight,” Norvell said. “I was really happy they were able to get the shutout. It’s hard to do, I don’t care who you’re playing against.”

The Rams’ defense also forced and recovered a fumble in the third quarter, while only allowing 133 total yards of Lobos offense. Led by fifth year Dequan Jackson, who eclipsed the 100 tackle mark for the season against the Lobos, the defense was able to keep the ball out of scoring position for most of the game.

Ad

“It’s not really about me, but it felt great,” Jackson said. “The guys told me before we even went out there that they were going to leave everything on the line for the seniors. … My biggest thing is that I hope they carry that into next year and that can be momentum for the young guys.”

Reach Braidon Nourse at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @BraidonNourse.