It’s amazing the difference a week can make. Seven days removed from scoring only seven points in a loss, the CSU football team took a huge step forward this weekend, and has an undefeated conference record to show for it.
CSU (3-2, 1-0 MWC) defeated the UNLV (3-3, 0-2 MWC) Rebels in front of a crowd of 19,000 at Hughes Stadium, thanks in large part to Ram’s best offensive performance in the past 11 months.
With 238 yards rushing and 294 yards through the air, CSU played its most balanced offensive game of the season.
Running back Gartrell Johnson and receiver Rashaun Greer had career days, propelling the Rams to a 41-28 victory, combining for 423 yards of total offense between them.
Johnson shined for the Rams, busting out for 191 yards rushing with three touchdowns, including the game-winner with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Johnson’s performance impressed CSU head coach Steve Fairchild.
“He took control and just hammered it up in there,” the first-year head coach said. “Safeties and linebackers don’t want to keep coming at him when you’re a warrior like he is. I was just impressed with him, not just by the last drive, but all day long.”
Quarterback Billy Farris attributes the Rams’ offensive success to confidence, explaining that it carried the team to a comeback win.
“Throughout the game we were moving the ball up and down the field,” the senior said. “Everybody was confident and knew we could do it. When we would hit a pass play or Gartrell (Johnson) would run it up and knock somebody back, our team saw it. The confidence and excitement just goes through the roof.”
Safety Klint Kubiak gave the offense credit for picking up the defense, especially after giving up a go-ahead touchdown to UNLV with six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 28-27, Farris lead a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that would give the Rams the lead and with only eight seconds left on the clock.
CSU finished off the Rebels when running back John Mosure recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, taking it in for a last-second touchdown.
“The offense really picked us up when we were struggling at the end,” Kubiak said. “We got it done today, and that is definitely a confidence builder. Guys came together and never hung our heads even when we were down. It was a team effort.”
Farris agreed. The first year starter said that while the offense stood out for CSU today, it is the whole team that will need to step up to achieve a successful season.
“That’s a team,” he said. “One week it’s offense, the next it’s defense or special teams. That’s what makes a team, and that’s what helps you win.”
Up next for the Rams is a conference showdown against Texas Christian University, a team that has been nationally ranked for most of the season.
Farichild knows that the Rams will need more than just Johnson when tougher conference opponents, like TCU, come to town.
“We tried to ride him a little bit today, but we’ll need every carry Kyle Bell’s got as well,” he said. “And we’ll probably need John Mosure before the thing is done.”
Football beat writer Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.
Career Day – Rashaun Greer
8 catches, 211 yards, 1 touchdown
Rashaun Greer has been a more than pleasant surprise for the Rams this season. Through five games, the junior has caught 33 passes for 570 yards, leading CSU in both categories.
Saturday’s victory against UNLV marked Greer’s first touchdown of the season. The Las Vegas native was sure it was coming soon.
“I knew it was going to come eventually, so I was just being patient,” he said. “I got it, so now just have to continue to be more productive.”
Quarterback Billy Farris said that Greer makes throwing the ball easy.
“He’s a big guy and a big target,” he said. “I just feel comfortable throwing to him.”