Trick or treat? Colorado State Rams fans were tricked on Halloween thinking they would beat the San Diego State Aztecs.
SDSU took the 7-0 lead early, and CSU actually took the lead at 10-7 in the second quarter. But four Rams turnovers led to 10 points for the Aztecs – including a pick-six – and SDSU eventually won 41-17 in Fort Collins Saturday.
To start the contest, SDSU enjoyed multiple explosive plays: A kickoff return to their 41 and a 43-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. Donnel Pumphrey capped the drive off by plunging into the end zone on 4th down for the 7-0 lead. On the Rams first offensive drive, they moved all the way down to the five yard line where Jasen Oden carried the ball and fumbled. After review – which showed he was down – the play stood as a fumble and touchback.
But on their second drive, the Rams capitalized when Nick Stevens threw a wobbler up to Rashard Higgins who went up and grabbed the ball for a 35-yard touchdown to tie the game up at 7. And on their third drive, Wyatt Bryan connected on a 44-yard field goal for the 10-7 lead.
After SDSU marched back down the field on their ensuing drive, the Colorado State defense stonewalled Pumphrey, forcing him to lose a yard on two straight plays, including a clutch hit by Trent Matthews. The Aztecs settled for a field goal and it was tied at 10-10. Then, with eight seconds before the half, SDSU had the ball again. Pumphrey caught a pass and slid while simultaneously calling for timeout, which he was awarded with one second on the clock. The Aztecs booted a 54-yard field goal and led 13-10 at the break.
The second half was much less prosperous for the Rams. SDSU pushed their lead to 20-10 when Pumphrey burned Kevin Pierre-Louis for a 32-yard passing touchdown. Then it became 27-10 when Stevens threw a pick-six to Damontae Kazee.
CSU was down, but they were not out. After moving into scoring range as the third quarter expired, the Rams put a touchdown on the board when Stevens found Danny Nwosu all alone. But only two plays later, Pumphrey juked Cory James and scampered 64 yards to the house for the 34-17 lead. Later in the fourth, Chase Price ran 16 yards into the end zone untouched: 41-17 SDSU.
STAR OF THE GAME
Donnel Pumphrey was undoubtedly the star of the game. He enjoyed 20 carries for 121 yards, which included his 64-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to cement the victory for SDSU. The move he put on Cory James on that run was otherworldly. Pumphrey also had two catches for 47 yards including his 32-yard TD through the air.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Pumphrey’s slide and timeout before halftime was incredibly clutch. He somehow had the smarts to get down and call a timeout at the same time, which saved one second on the clock and meant a three-point lead at the break.
Stevens late first half interception was the game’s turning point. Colorado State was tied 10-10 with SDSU before the pick and the first half was nearly over. But with eight seconds left, the Aztecs completed a pass to Pumphrey, who called a time out and the Aztecs took the lead on the 54-yard boot. They scored 17 straight points after the pick and outscored the Rams 34-7 after that INT.
BY THE NUMBERS
Rashard Higgins enjoyed a good game for CSU with four catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Rams, all four of those receptions came in the first half.
Nick Stevens turned the ball over three times on interceptions; one was a deflection, one a prayer which floated into Malik Smith’s hands and he overthrew Higgins on the pick-six.
On the day, CSU was a -4 on turnovers, which almost always means a loss.
The Rams also had seven penalties called on them which resulted in 78 yards lost; they weren’t just bad, they were scary bad on Halloween.
SDSU enjoyed 400-plus yards of offense (456) including 276 on the ground. They wore down the Rams defense, especially in the second half.
Izzy Matthews was a pleasant surprise for Colorado State, rushing nine times for 68 yards (7.6 YPC).
This loss means Colorado State falls to 3-5, 1-3 MW on the season. A win would’ve meant evening up both numbers, but a loss means the team stays near the bottom of their Mountain West Conference.
Next up for Colorado State is the Border War in Laramie, Wyoming against the Wyoming Cowboys (1-8, 1-4 MW). That game kicks off at 1 p.m. MT next Saturday, Nov. 7.