Rams Stun Buffaloes 19-14

If Colorado State games keep ending up like this, head coach Sonny Lubick's going to need a pacemaker.

For the second week in a row, the Rams defense was on the ropes with the game on the line in the waning seconds. For the second week in a row, they held when they had to, and Colorado State escaped the Rocky Mountain Showdown with a 19-14 upset of their in-state rivals, the seventh-ranked Colorado Buffaloes.

After dominating the first half, and holding on to a 13-0 lead entering the fourth quarter, the Rams saw CU take a 14-13 lead with 9:39 remaining. But the Rams answered with a seven-play, 84-yard drive, capped by a 23-yard touchdown run from QB Bradlee Van Pelt. After a two-point conversion failed, CSU led 19-14.

The Buffs mounted a final charge. They drove to the CSU 12, where John Donahoe couldn't pull down Craig Ochs' high pass on fourth down at the goal line with 21 seconds left.

It was Colorado State's third win in four years of the in-state rivalry, which drew 75,531 at Invesco Field at Mile High.

"We knew going into the game that this CU team wasn't unbeatable," said Van Pelt, who engineered Colorado State's 35-29 win over Virginia last week, gave his teammates on offense a pep talk before the final drive. "I told the guys, 'This is nothing new. If anything, this team is weaker than Virginia,'" Van Pelt said. "I just said, 'We let them back in the game. We owe it to our defense and our fans to go down there and get the winning drive.'"

"Ultimately, when the game was on the line, CSU got it done and we didn't," CU Head Coach Gary Barnett said. "They were behind and they put together a great drive. Their quarterback is a great warrior. He played with great heart, like he did last week.

"We had a tough day overcoming our first-game jitters. Once again, turnovers just nailed us."

Lubick said his Rams showed toughness, especially on defense.

"Defensively, we tried to make them earn every yard they got," Lubick said. "We gave away some points with the missed extra point and some field goals. They're a pretty good defense, but we moved the ball in spurts."

In the first half, Colorado State outgained Colorado 195-90, crossing midfield on its last six possessions of the half. Sapp scored on runs of 8 and 2 yards. Kicker Jeff Babcock, who went 5-for-5 on field goals in the Rams' win over Virginia last week, missed a pair of 37-yard attempts in the half and also hit the left upright on an extra-point try.

The Rams got an early turnover when linebacker Eric Pauly intercepted a pass at the Colorado 33. CSU reached the 20, but Babcock's field-goal try was wide.

Barely a minute later, Dexter Wynn returned a punt 43 yards to the Colorado 39. After Van Pelt passed 28 yards to Eric Hill, Sapp broke multiple tackles on an 8-yard run up the middle with 5:52 left in the opening quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Brown fumbled at the Buffaloes' 20. Five plays later, Sapp ran 2 yards for the TD, but Babcock missed the extra point.

Sapp's 16-yard run and Van Pelt's 21-yard pass to Joey Cuppari helped set up another CSU scoring chance late in the half, but Babcock's hurried attempt with time expiring was wide.

Colorado opened up its offense in the third quarter as Ochs completed four straight passes of at least 11 yards before Brown's second fumble. CSU then squandered a scoring chance when Phil Jackson intercepted Van Pelt in the end zone. The Buffs drove to the Rams 3-yard line late in the quarter, but Brown fumbled at the 4.

Brown, who fumbled only once all last season, dropped it three times. He finished with 93 yards rushing on 22 carries.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Colorado's Jeremy Bloom returned a punt 75 yards for a score. Five minutes later, Brown atoned for three earlier fumbles with a 1-yard scoring run, capping an 81-yard drive and giving the Buffaloes a 14-13 lead with 9:39 remaining.

Colorado State countered immediately, to put together the winning drive. Van Pelt passed 11 yards to Chris Pittman, 9 yards to Cecil Sapp and 16 yards to Joey Cuppari. With a first down at the Colorado 23, Van Pelt broke off the left side and cut back to the right on a clinching scoring run. Van Pelt threw an incomplete pass on the 2-point conversion try, setting up another frantic finish.

Sapp had 80 yards rushing, and Van Pelt added 74.

The Rams got an early turnover when linebacker Eric Pauly intercepted a pass at the Colorado 33. CSU reached the 20, but Babcock's field-goal try was wide. Barely a minute later, Dexter Wynn returned a punt 43 yards to the Colorado 39. After Van Pelt passed 28 yards to Eric Hill, Sapp broke multiple tackles on an 8-yard run up the middle with 5:52 left in the opening quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, Brown fumbled at the Buffaloes' 20. Five plays later, Sapp ran 2 yards for the TD, but Babcock missed the extra point.

Sapp's 16-yard run and Van Pelt's 21-yard pass to Joey Cuppari helped set up another CSU scoring chance late in the half, but Babcock's hurried attempt with time expiring was wide.

Colorado opened up its offense in the third quarter as Ochs completed four straight passes of at least 11 yards before Brown's second fumble.

The Buffs drove to the Rams' 3-yard line late in the quarter, but Brown fumbled again. Teammate Donahoe recovered for an apparent first down, but because fourth-down fumbles can't be advanced, the ball was spotted where the fumble occurred, at the 4, and CSU took possession.

Colorado lost it's season opener for the fourth straight season, with three of the losses to CSU.

Colorado State offensive tackle Aaron Green had a stress fracture in his left fibula, and defensive back Miles Kochevar tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee and will have surgery within a few days.


Inside the Rams Top Stories