So it is for the Colorado State Rams, who have almost perfected the art of winning close games during the 2002 season. They played yet another nail-bitter Saturday, this time against the Utah Utes. The Rams led all the way, but not until Utah failed on fourth and goal with under a minute left, did CSU escape with another narrow win, this time by a score of 28-20. It was CSU's sixth win of the year – all by eight points or less. The win left the Rams at 6-2 on the year, 2-0 in Mountain West Conference play, heading into a Thursday night match up with BYU at Hughes Stadium.
As usual, it was Rams junior quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt leading the way. A week removed from being benched against Wyoming after drawing a personal foul penalty, Van Pelt ran for two touchdowns and threw for another Saturday. The tough Utah defense held Cecil Sapp to just 71 yards on the ground. For the game, Utah outgained CSU 481-252.
Utah quarterback Brett Elliott, making his second career start, drove his team from its own 11-yard line in the final minute, but the Utes failed to score when Rhett Nelson knocked down a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
Utah (2-5, 0-3) now has a five-game losing streak for the first time in coach Ron McBride's career. The Utes also have lost five straight to Colorado State.
Utah's Brandon Warfield, who carried 20 times for 111 yards, ran for a 27-yard TD with 8:44 left in the game. Bryan Borreson missed the extra point, leaving the score at 28-20.
The Rams took an early 14-0 first half lead on an 11-yard Van Pelt to Matt Bartz touchdown pass, and a 9-yard Van Pelt touchdown run. Elliott scored on a quarterback sneak before Sapp faked a halfback pass and ran for a 5-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Elliott ran for another touchdown in the second half, but he then threw an interception to Drew Wood, who returned it to the Utah 8. Van Pelt ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 4:29 left in the third quarter to give CSU a 28-14 cushion.
The normally conservative Utes, desperate to stay in the conference race, replaced their starting punter with returner Morgan Scalley. Instead of kicking the ball away, Scalley ran for the first down three times.