Two weeks ago, Ben DeLine was a backup kicker enjoying the college life. Now he is the newest hero on the CSU football team.
DeLine, a true freshman, hit the game winning field goal in the Rams’ home opener against the Sacramento State Hornets (1-1). The Steamboat native’s kick propelled CSU (1-1) to a 23-20 come-from-behind victory, their first of the season.
A minute and a half earlier, DeLine hit a 36-yard field goal to cap a 16-play, 61-yard drive that took more than eight minutes off of the clock and tied up the game.
The six-footer explained that he wasn’t nervous at all before hitting the two biggest kicks of his young career.
“I was definitely anxious to get on the field and kick,” DeLine said. “You never let the nerves get to your head or else they will take over your mind. It’s all about preparation. If you kick a lot in practice you won’t be as nervous in the games.”
Steve Fairchild, who earned his first win as the Rams’ head coach Saturday, explained that DeLine has been playing beyond his experience level.
“Ever since he has been forced into this role, he hasn’t acted like a freshman,” the former CSU quarterback said. “It’s not surprising to me and I was not nervous about it.”
DeLine was named the Rams’ starter after kicker Jason Smith broke his arm in practice days before CSU’s season opener in Denver.
The Rams were put into position to kick the game winning field goal after defensive tackle James Morehead hit SSU quarterback Jason Smith, causing him to lose the ball. Safety Mike Pagnotta recovered the fumble, setting up the eventual win.
Tommy Hill, who had two sacks in the game, said that he was glad that the defense was able to share the pressure of a tight game.
“As a defense we wanted the game on our shoulders” the senior said. “In those situations we know that good defenses step up and we were able to come up with a big play.”
DeLine was sure that his team was going to find a way to win the close contest, explaining that it was a matter of confidence.
“I was confident in my team that they were going to march down the field and get us into position,” he said. “And I was confident in the snap and hold for the kick. It was just awesome.”
DeLine has been perfect so far this season, hitting four out of four field goal opportunities.
Hill is excited to get the first win of the season, even if it came against a team a division below the Rams.
“Every win is a big win,” he said. “We’ve been around long enough to know that anytime you win it’s big time.”
Sports reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.