The CSU Rams began this season with two wins, but waited until the third game of the season to display their true potential.
The Rams (3-0 0-0) defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack (0-2 0-0) in front of a green and gold crowd of nearly 25,000, putting together their most complete victory of the entire season.
The Rams defense was stellar during the game, holding Nevada scoreless for the first 31-minutes of the contest, while grabbing two fumbles and picking off three passes.
CSU’s offense retuned the favor, producing four touchdowns off of the defenses turnovers.
Head coach Steve Fairchild was pleased with his Rams effort in the turnover battle, comparing this team to previous successful CSU teams.
“I think the biggest thing is that we got back to the way we played around here when we were successful and that was by taking the ball away and not turning it over,” the second year head man said. “When you do that, you obviously give yourself a pretty good chance to win.”
CSU’s biggest turnover of the day came midway through the third quarter. After giving up a touchdown on Nevada’s first possession of the second half and then failing to retaliate offensively, the Rams found themselves in a tough spot. Facing a Nevada drive that could have possibly tied the game, CSU safety Klint Kubiak picked off a pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick, setting the Rams up at the Nevada 44.
The Rams offense quickly took advantage of the good field position, scoring two plays later as quarterback Grant Stucker connected with receiver Dion Morton for a 49-yard touchdown. Kicker Ben DeLine added the extra point giving CSU a 21-6 lead and the eventual win.
Kubiak explained that creating turnovers and cashing in on them propelled the Rams today.
“When they turn the ball over and we score it just builds our confidence,” the senior said. “We’re going to have to do that all year.”
The Rams weren’t done with the Wolf Pack quite yet. On the next Nevada drive, safety Elijah-Blu Smith picked off Kaepernick again, this time in the CSU end zone. The Rams offense responded in turn with a long drive ending in a 32-yard Stucker touchdown pass to fullback Zack Puaga.
CSU still had more to accomplish. On the ensuing Wolf Pack position, cornerback Nick Oppenneer recovered a fumble created by linebacker Michael Kawulok who stripped the ball from UN receiver Brandon Wimberly. CSU’s offense answered with a 35-yard touchdown run from Stucker.
Nevada added two late touchdowns with second string CSU defenders in the game, bringing the final score to 35-20.
Defensive Coordinator Larry Kerr explained that it would have been a much different ball game if CSU didn’t dominate the turnover battle and called the win a complete team victory.
“The turnovers were obviously the difference in the game, especially with some of the field position they (Nevada) started with,” Kerr said. “That just ignites you as a team momentum wise and excitement wise when you get those turnovers. It was a great job by a lot of different guys.”
Stucker agreed adding that the Rams offense showed a lot of progress today thanks in large part to the defenses turnovers.
“The turnover battle today was huge,” he said. “If you just look at that stat alone, that gives you a huge chance. We rewarded our defense by putting some points on the board and keeping them off the field.”
Up next for the Rams is a showdown with the BYU Cougars in Provo, Utah.
“Good football teams win on the road. This will be our first test on a real road trip. I’m looking forward to it and I know my team is.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at sports.collegian.com
1 2 3 4 T
Nevada- 0 0 6 14 20
CSU- 14 0 7 14 35
CSU stat leaders
Stucker- 10-20-0 165yds 2 TD’s
Mosure- 18 carries for 104yds and 1 TD
Morton- 2-63 1 TD