The New Mexico defense stymied Colorado State sophomore tailback Kapri Bibbs Saturday afternoon in Albuquerque, keeping him out of the end zone and holding him to just 33 yards rushing.
Too bad there were still three quarters left to play.
Bibbs put up yet another monster game on the ground, finished the evening with 291 yards and a Mountain West record-tying six touchdown runs in the Rams' 66-42 victory over the Lobos. The win ups Colorado State's record to 6-5 and puts them one win away from bowl eligibility with two games yet to play.
After last week's 312-yard, four-score performance against Nevada, Bibbs has 603 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns over the last two contests. He's already broken the team scoring record with his 25 touchdowns, while his 1439 yards puts him in third place on the program's single-season rushing list. Bibbs displayed his entire repertoire Saturday, breaking off six runs of 15 yards or longer while also showing the ability to pick up the tough yardage, including converting a key fourth-down conversion in the third quarter.
Bibbs wasn't the only offensive standout for the Rams, as junior quarterback Garrett Grayson played perhaps his finest game for the program, completing 20 of his 28 attempts for 302 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while picking up three third-down conversions on the ground himself in a game that featured little to no resistance from both teams' defensive units. The Rams and Lobos combined for 1176 yards in offense, and while Colorado State led throughout, there were times when the outcome seemed very much in doubt.
Grayson kicked off the scoring with an 8-yard pass to receiver Joe Hansley on the Rams' first drive, then extended the lead to 14-0 after a 43-yard scoring toss to running back Chris Nwoke. But the Lobos answered back with a rare touchdown pass of their own, a 50-yarder from quarterback Cole Gautsche to tight end Reece White.
Jared Roberts put Colorado State up 17-7 early in the second quarter with a career-long 52-yard field goal, but New Mexico's Carlos Wiggins returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to draw the Lobos back within three. The teams exchanged touchdown passes before Bibbs' first score of the game put the Rams up 31-21 at the half.
The teams traded body blows in the second half, scoring touchdowns on each of their third quarter possessions. New Mexico struck first after running back Crusoe Gongbay ran for 61 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Teriyon Gipson scored on the next play to again bring the Lobos within one score. That was followed by a 82-yard drive from Colorado State, punctuated by a 27-yard Bibbs touchdown run. But the Rams couldn't pull away yet, as the Lobos answered with a Jhurrell Pressley 12-yard run set up by a 52-yard completion from backup quarterback Clayton Mitchem to Tyler Duncan to make the score 38-35.
Facing a fourth-and-1 on the New Mexico 36-yard line on the ensuing possession, Grayson handed the ball to Bibbs, who -- though hit in the backfield -- surged forward through two Lobos defenders for a first down to keep the drive alive. He appeared to score on an 18-yard run later in the drive, but was ruled down just shy of the goal line. He finally punched the ball into the end zone two plays later, but appeared to suffer a leg injury in the process, lying on the ground after the score while trainers attended to him. But after New Mexico responded with yet another touchdown to cut the lead to three points again at 45-42, Bibbs reentered the game -- and completely dominated the fourth quarter.
He ran the ball 11 times for 137 yards and three scores in the final frame alone, and the Rams defense finally showed up, forcing two-straight turnovers on downs. Bibbs clinched the win with an 18-yard touchdown with less than a minute left, and head coach Jim McElwain's Colorado State squad seemed poised to make the program's first bowl berth since 2008.
Tight end Crockett Gillmore led seven Rams receivers with four catches for 77 yards, while Rashard Higgins hauled in six passes for 71 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown. The 649 yards of total offense were the most by the team since a 61-19 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1996, while the 66 points represent the most scored by the program since 1974.
Gautsche burned the Colorado State defense before being forced to sit out the second half due to injury, gaining 133 yards and two touchdowns on just six completions and racking up 60 yards on the ground. Gongbay led the Lobos with 98 yards rushing and a score, while Duncan finished with 95 yards and a touchdown on four catches.
The Rams gave up more than 500 yards of offense, including 278 on the ground. The Colorado State defense will need to play better next week against a potent Utah State team that averages more than 466 yards of total offense per game.