After Brigham Young sophomore running back Fui Vakapuna’s 3-yard touchdown run in the last minute of the third quarter Saturday night, a majority of the CSU student section filed out of Hughes Stadium with the belief that the game, and most likely the season, was a lost cause for the Rams.
For the second consecutive home game, attendance barely reached 21,000 fans – a sign of the recent support for a CSU football team mired in a four-game losing streak.
“The student section was weak. Everyone was quiet. We didn’t get loud on third downs like we normally do,” said sophomore landscape architecture major Trevor Hoest, who sat in the student section Saturday. “The BYU section was louder than us.”
The visiting section was even loud enough to temporarily disrupt offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt’s post-game interview with the media after the game.
But while most students were busy trying get home an hour early, the football team was still on the field, fighting hard for every extra yard against the conference’s most dominant team.
“I was trying everything I could to get us fired up,” said junior quarterback Caleb Hanie. “I don’t think anybody played any less harder than they always do.”
With three games left in the season, the last thing on the minds of the CSU players is giving up.
In fact the team feels it is good enough to win out and secure a bowl game birth.
Three straight wins may look like a long shot from anyone outside the football program, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Hanie.
“We have a bowl game to look forward to,” he said. “We really just have to focus on each other and don’t listen to the media and what you hear in the papers and on the news and people around town.”
We just have to stay within the walls of our meeting rooms and play for each other and give your heart for each other.”
Junior defensive end Jesse Nading is on the same page with Hanie.
“There’s a lot of character on this team. Nobody’s going to quit,” Nading said. “We’re all going to just play for each other.”
Make no mistake about it though, the team is frustrated.
“That’s the best word for it right there: Frustration,” said offensive lineman Clint Oldenberg. “I’m sitting here right now thinking why the heck we can’t move the ball on offense and why we can’t score points and I don’t have any answers.”
If indeed those answers are actually found, three consecutive wins may be within reach with how well the defense continues to play.
But first and foremost, the Rams will need to win next week in Salt Lake City against Utah before they even thinks about a bowl game.
So while the number of Ram supporters willing to make the trek to Utah next weekend is up in the air, the team will surely have the one thing it feels it needs the most: Themselves.
Football beat writer Sean Star can be reached at email@example.com.