SAN DIEGO – With quarterback Justin Holland sitting on the
sidelines, his broken leg wrapped up and his season over, the CSU
football team rallied behind a true freshman and fought their way
In a game that seemed on the brink of becoming the fifth loss of
the season for the Rams, the CSU defense forced a fumble with 1:51
remaining in the football game, giving the Rams the opportunity to
score the go-ahead touchdown and beat San Diego State 21-17 in
front of a crowd of 31,129.
SDSU running back Michael Franklin fumbled while the Aztecs
attempted to run out the remaining time in the game. Junior
Terrance Carter recovered for the Rams, and junior running back
Jimmy Green ran in a 1-yard touchdown with 1:03 remaining in the
fourth quarter, giving the Rams the go-ahead touchdown.
“It’s easy to get down so much this year,” Green said. “It just
feels good to get a win.”
But, the biggest story of the game was what happened late in the
Holland, who was on pace to have one of the biggest seasons at
quarterback in CSU history, fractured his fibula in his left leg
when he was hit after throwing a pass. Holland will have surgery
today to help stabilize the leg and is expected to miss the
remainder of the season.
True freshman Caleb Hanie replaced Holland and went 12-of-19 for
115 yards and a touchdown. Hanie is the first true freshman to play
quarterback for CSU in more than 20 years.
“I felt really confident, I wasn’t really that nervous,” Hanie
said. “I think everybody played the best game. We have to get
better next week.”
For Hanie, who started fall camp listed fourth on the depth
chart, it was his second appearance of the season. He went 2-of-2
for 7 yards at the end of the CSU win over Montana State.
“He took control of that offense,” said senior H-back Joel
Dreessen. “He was more vocal than any of us ever have been.”
On his second drive of the game, Hanie led the Rams on an
80-yard touchdown drive, hooking up with Dreessen for a 4-yard
touchdown pass. Hanie went 4-of-4 on the drive, helping give the
Rams a 14-6 lead.
“This is a bittersweet game for us,” said CSU Head Coach Sonny
Lubick. “I think Caleb went in there and did an admirable job. You
have to give him credit.”
The CSU defense, plagued by poor tackling and the previous
target of criticism, came up numerous times to make big plays.
Linebacker Luke Adkins intercepted a Matt Dlugolecki pass and
returned it 71-yards for a touchdown to lead off scoring for CSU.
It was the longest interception return by a Ram since 1993, when
Ray Jackson returned a pick 100 yards against Texas-El Paso.
SDSU also switched quarterbacks, as redshirt freshman Kevin
O’Connell replaced the starter Dlugolecki. O’Connell would finish
the day 11-of-26 for 157 yards and a touchdown.
CSU recorded two sacks on the first two SDSU drives of the game,
forcing the Aztecs to punt without getting a first down. It was the
first time this year the Rams have forced opposing offences to
back-to-back three-and-outs. Total, SDSU would gain 148 yards in
the first half, but ended with only six points.
SDSU got two field goals in the first half, both converted by
Garrett Palmer from 48 yards out. Senior defensive lineman Jonathan
Simon blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt in the beginning of the
The game quickly turned into a battle between defenses, as
neither team scored in the third quarter and the Rams gained only
That changed on the first play of the fourth quarter, as
O’Connell laced a 58-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Webb. SDSU would
convert for two points, tying the game at 14.
“Except for one play, (SDSU) might not have scored a TD on us
all night,” Lubick said.
Hanie was intercepted with 7:18 remaining in the fourth quarter,
and the turnover gave the Aztecs a chance to take the lead, as the
Rams defense was unable to stop SDSU. Brandon Bornes 22-yard run
set up a 27-yard field goal by Palmer, which gave SDSU a 17-14 lead
with 5:36 remaining.
The Rams responded by driving down the field, but a Heath
Farwell sack would end the Rams’ drive just before they reached
SDSU territory. With just over two minutes left, it looked as if
SDSU would be able to run out the clock.
But the Franklin fumble changed all of that.
As Franklin hit the line of scrimmage, a swarm of Rams defenders
hit him. In the scuffle, the ball appeared to fall out and onto the
ground, with Carter on top of it. The SDSU fans and sideline
appealed, but CSU took possession of the football.
“By rule, for a player to be down, officials must have positive
knowledge that the player is in possession of the ball while
contracting the ground,” said referee Karl Richins. “What we knew
for certain was that the ball was loose and Colorado State
Two plays later, Green ran in the eventual game winner.
On the ensuing drive, SDSU moved up the field quickly, but a
Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game fell in and out of Chaz
Schilens hands, sealing the CSU win.
In total, the Aztecs out-gained the Rams offensively 366 yards
to 196. The Rams averaged just 3 yards per play, but were able to
capitalize when given the opportunity.
“This one is on the defense,” Green said. “Every play we needed
they came up with. They gave us so many chances, and we finally
capitalized on one.”
Starting free safety and leading tackler Ben Stratton was also
injured early in the game, suffering a strained right ankle. He sat
for the remainder of the game. Travis Garcia played in his place,
sharing time with strong safeties Adam Lancisero and Miles
The Rams have converted 17 points of the 8 turnovers this year.
However, Ram opponents have converted 16 CSU turnovers into 68
points, a difference of 51 points. SDSU would get 6 points off the
two CSU turnovers, while the Rams converted three SDSU turnovers
into two touchdowns.