Colorado State was looking for its first complete game of the season. On Saturday at home against Fresno State, they finally found it.
The Rams (5-4, 3-2 MWC) played a complete game from start to finish, earning a 37-0 win over struggling Fresno State (1-9, 0-6). The shutout was CSU's first since 1997, a 225-game stretch for the program.
Really, everything went well for the Rams Saturday. Quarterback Nick Stevens finished 18-of-23 for 237 yards, with two touchdowns and no turnovers. It was an efficient afternoon for the CSU signal caller, who spent a majority of the day targeting top playmaker Michael Gallup.
The junior college transfer went over the century mark in receiving yards in the first half, finishing with nine catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. Gallup now has a team-leading six receiving scores on the season.
Not to be outdone was the running game, which racked up 257 yards. True freshman Marvin Kinsey led the Rams with 83 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. Izzy Matthews tallied 55 yards and two touchdowns.
While the offense stole the show from a numbers standpoint, it was the defense that will ultimately be remembered from this win. CSU posted its first shutout in 19 seasons. CSU held the Bulldogs to 73 yards rushing and just 155 yards passing. They also stopped Fresno State on all three fourth down attempts.
Jordon Vaden added a third quarter interception and 1.5-sack afternoons from true freshmen Arjay Jean and Toby McBride helped keep Fresno State quarterback Zach Kline on edge all afternoon.
For a unit that has been much-criticized throughout the season, Marty English has turned his group around the second half of the season.
With the win, the Rams are now one win away from becoming bowl eligible.
Let us not go overboard on the superlatives for the Rams, as Fresno State is down in the dumps following the dismissal of head coach Tim DeRuyter several weeks ago. But the Rams did prove they are getting better week by week. Not only that, but they have a wealth of young riches.
Saturday could be dubbed “The Day of the True Freshman,” as numerous first-year players littered the box score with big numbers. Marvin Kinsey, who came into the contest with five touchdown runs, led the Rams with 83 yards on 10 carries. His 5-yard scoring run in the first quarter propelled the Rams to an offensive onslaught.
However, it was a bruising 18-yard run in the third quarter that had the 23,187 fans in attendance loudly applauding. Kinsey broke two sure tackles on a dive up the middle, nearly finishing the play with a score. We finally saw the flashes of big play ability from the tall, slashing tailback that should have fans giddy for his future.
Other true freshmen with big games:
- WR Anthony Hawkins - a 14-yard receiving touchdown, 3 carries for 19 yards.
- DE Arjay Jean – 1.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry.
- DE Toby McBride – 4 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hurries.
- Safety Jamal Hicks – 5 tackles (2 solo), 1 TFL.
- CB Robert Awunganyi – 1 pass breakup.
- LB Max McDonald – 3 tackles, .5 sack, 1 QB hurry.
CSU played its first complete game of the season. There had been much talk throughout the course of the season that the Rams could not finish a ball game, or at least play well for all four quarters. We thought we might see that last game as the Rams got out to a 35-0 halftime lead over UNLV, but the Rebels managed to score several times in the third quarter.
Against Fresno State, CSU kept the pedal down and dominated a poor Bulldogs team from start to finish. The defense posted it's first goose egg since 1997 (has it really taken that long for CSU to post another shutout??) and the offense was clicking on all cylinders. The team also committed zero turnovers and Jordon Vaden's third quarter interception halted a Fresno State drive in CSU territory.
Talk about playing a strong game from beginning to end.
“It was nice. It was what Coach has been looking for,” Nick Stevens told reporters after the game. “It was a good, complete effort. Hats off to the defense for the shutout and good job by everybody on the offense to put up 37 points.”
CSU hosted a plethora of recruiting targets, both top scholarship targets and potential walk on candidates. For a list of those in attendance, click here.
The Rams head down I-25 for an intrastate showdown against rival Air Force on Saturday night for an 8:15 pm kickoff. CSU is looking for its second consecutive win over the Falcons, who enter the contest at 6-3 (2-3 MWC). CSU took the Ram-Falcon trophy last season with a 38-23 win in Fort Collins.