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CSU Rams get a much-needed win against UTEP, 59 – 42

The CSU Rams pull ahead, then lose the lead, then finally pull away to win a game that featured over 1000 yards of offense and over 100 points scored.

CSU Orange Out
CSU Orange Out

The CSU Rams (2 – 3, 0 – 0) scored 59 points in a game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. The official attendance at the CSU Ag day game was 19,517 and the stadium was filled with orange as the Rams donned the "pumpkin" colored jerseys of the old CSU Aggies. On their way to almost 600 yards of offense (591 total yards, the most since gaining 618 in the New Mexico Bowl in 2008) against the UTEP Miners, the CSU Rams scored more points than they have scored since a blow out win 63 – 0 against Hawai’i in 1997.

The Rams went into the locker room at half time up 28 – 7 only to watch that lead evaporate in the third quarter. UTEP QB Jameill Showers threw for 2 TD’s and ran for one to tie the score in the third quarter 28 – 28. It looked like the Rams were in trouble until Shaquil Barrett forced Showers to fumble in the Miner’s end zone. The Miners recovered and CSU was ahead 30-28 with under 5:00 left in the third quarter. Less than a minute and a half later, CSU QB Garrett Grayson hit freshman WR Rashard Higgins on a 56 yard pass to put the Rams up 37 – 28. From there the Rams never looked back.

Although the Miners would score two more TDs on passes from Showers to Tomlinson and Wenrick, the Rams scored on three more possessions, with 37 yard run by Kapri Bibbs (Donnell Alexander ran in a two-point conversion), a 1 yard run by Garrett Grayson and a second Kapri Bibbs run of 34 yards. CSU converted a two-point conversion and also scored on a Joe Hansley pass to Kivon Cartwright in the second quarter, showing that the Rams are getting a little more creative on offense.

Shaquil Barrett (13 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumble, 1 pass break up) has been playing on a high level for the Rams, but even with his extraordinary effort, the Rams gave up 365 passing yards, 132 yards on the ground for 497 total yards. Against Alabama, CSU held the Tide to 66 rushing yards, but allowed 2.8 yards a carry for the Miners. The Miners also passed for 8.5 yards per attempt against a Rams secondary that had been burned by the University of Colorado and is a concern going forward. Of the Miner’s six touchdowns, only one was a run (Showers 1 yard run), the rest were passes of 2, 75, 48, 8 and 21 yards showing that the Rams are still susceptible in the passing game and will need to improve before Mountain West conference play begins against San Jose State in two weeks.

The Rams have become a tough out at home and are riding a five game home winning streak going back to last year. Garrett Grayson was 17/28 for a career high 307 yards (11.0 average) and 3 touchdowns (also career high) with no interceptions (QBR 88.4). Kapri Bibbs had a break out day rushing for 147 yards on 13 carries (11.3 yard average) and 3 TDs. Donnell Alexander and Chris Nwoke (1 fumble lost) each had 7 carries for 51 yards and 37 yards respectively. WR Rashard Higgins also had a big day, shedding the early season tendency to drop Grayson’s passes, catching 6 passes for 156 yards. Joe Hansley had 5 catches and the two big Tight Ends for CSU, Kivon Cartwright (2 TDs) and Crocket Gillmore, got involved. Jared Roberts was perfect on extra points (7/7) but missed his only field goal attempt and is 8/9 on the season. Overall, there were 1,088 total yards and 101 total points scored.

The Rams have a bye-week and will then face San Jose State at Hughes Stadium at 1:30 PM for the CSU homecoming game. The CSU / SJSU game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network, on Saturday October 12th.