BERKELEY, CALIF.– Entering the game, CSU was well aware of Cal’s high-powered, multi-dimensional offense and its ability to put up big numbers.
What the Rams found out was that Cal’s defense and special teams are also capable up putting up big numbers, as the Bears returned two punts– one which was blocked– and an interception for touchdowns in their 42-7 win over the visiting Rams Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“If (those plays) don’t happen, then we’re in the game,” CSU running back John Mosure said. “The key before the game was we don’t want any turnovers and great special teams, that’s what you need in away games. And we didn’t have that today.”
It all started when CSU linebacker Jeff Horinek got pushed back into punter Anthony Bartz after the Rams’ second possession, casuing the ball to bounce off Horinek’s back.
Reserve Cal defensive back Bryant Nnabuife was there to snag the ball and return it 30 yards for a touchdown.
Then on the ensuing possession, CSU quarterback Billy Farris had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage. Again, the ball was snagged by a Cal defender and returned 43 yards for a touchdown, this time it was Brett Johnson, another reserve defensive back.
And just like that it was 14-0 and the rout was on.
“We flat did not have our heads in it, from a coaching standpoint or an offensive standpoint, and it cost us the game,” first-year CSU coach Steve Fairchild said.
Not to be outdone by his secondary teammates, starting cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson got in on the action too. Thompson returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown after the Rams’ first possession of the second half.
That made it 28-0. And the only question left to was whether Cal could keep the shutout alive.
“We did a lot of good things today,” Thompson said. “But we still made some mistakes.”
Most of those mistakes occurred when CSU freshman quarterback Klay Kubiak relieved Farris when the game was already out of reach.
Kubiak, in his first collegiate action, went 6-9 for 130 yards and led the Rams on their only scoring drive with five minutes left in the fourth, capped off by a one-yard run by Mosure.
Recently converted wide receiver T.J. Borkey also saw time behind center, running a similar option play three times, carrying the ball once for a 10-yard gain, once for a seven-yard loss and giving the ball off to Kyle Bell another time.
The Rams defense was resilient at first, not allowing the Cal offense to reach the end zone until the last two minutes of the first half. Before that, the defense forced and recovered a pair of fumbles.
“I thought we played better defensively than the score indicates,” Fairchild said. “There’s certainly room for improvement, but we hung in there defensively.
CSU will return action next Saturday to open conference play against UNLV.