What started as a promising season has quickly fallen out of control for the CSU Rams (3-6 0-5). After losing six straight games and losing all hope of improving on last seasons 7-6 record, the Rams are showing signs of frustration.
CSU’s latest loss came Saturday afternoon at the hands of the Air Force Falcons (5-4 4-2), falling in front of a crowd 22,025 filling Hughes Stadium.
The Rams partially battled back from an early 14-0 deficit and found themselves down a manageable 17-10 going into halftime. Unfortunately for CSU, the close game wouldn’t last long as the Falcons came out firing in the third quarter.
Air Force started second half onslaught on their first possession of the second half, by driving 78 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson, known more for runs than passes, found receiver Johnathan Warzeka wide open in the end zone from 24 yards out. The pass gave the Falcons a 23-10 lead after a missed extra point.
Air Force wasn’t done piling on thought, adding points on their next two drives including a touchdown off a 14 yard pitch to Kevin Fogler along with a 30 yard field goal following that, brining the score to 34-10.
The Rams played back ups for the remaining five minutes of the contest, including second string quarterback Jon Eastman, adding a late touchdown on a Lou Greenwood run. The late charge wasn’t nearly enough as the Rams fell for the sixth straight time, 34-16.
Rams head coach Steve Fairchild gave credit to the Falcons for the win in a post game press conference and blamed the loss on CSU’s poor third down performance.
“They deserved to win, they obviously made more plays than we did,” the second year CSU head man said. “I thought we were in position there in the first half, but once again we didn’t do a good enough job on third down on either side of the ball to sustain drives offensively or get off the field defensively.”
The Rams season long troubles on third downs continued against Air Force as CSU converted only six of 13 third downs offensively while allowing the Falcons to convert 11 of 16.
CSU quarterback Grant Stucker appeared disheartened by the loss and explained just why the why the Rams fell apart in the second half.
“We just couldn’t points up on the board and sustain a drive,” the senior first year starter said. “We couldn’t make the big play, we just couldn’t execute. When you do that against a team like Air Force they will just keep grinding the ball against you and it won’t play to your advantage.”
CSU safety Ivory Herd put part of the blame for letting a close game slip away on the defense and said the Rams gave the Falcons to many opportunities.
“They are going to capitalize on any opportunity we give them,” the sophomore said. “It’s one of the reasons we lost. We let down in the second half.”
Stucker struggled for the third straight game, posting only 49 yards passing with an interception.
While the Rams passing game struggled, the green and gold found new life in their running game, tallying 187 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, including a 13 yard score by Stucker late in the second quarter.
Fairchild found one of few bright spots of the game in the Rams rushing game, specifically giving credit to the performance of his offensive line.
“We’re playing well some areas,” he said. “We are running the ball pretty effectively and the offensive line, I thought they were good but I couldn’t even imagine playing as well as we are playing.”
Stucker added that the Rams focused less on the pass today only because they knew they could run on the Falcons and pointed out it was part of the game plan.
“That was working for us and we stuck with that game plan,” the Ponderosa graduate said. “We didn’t shy away from the pass because we didn’t want to, we just knew the run game was working so well.”
With a six game losing streak hanging over their head and mention of a possible offensive shake up in the coming weak, Stucker admitted that the Rams were struggling.
“Everybody is hurting and they should be,” he said. “It’s hard to keep guys positive through this sort of thing but that’s what people have to do. We have to stay positive, focus on the good things we have done and move on to the next play next game.”
CSU’s next opportunity to break their losing streak is set for next Saturday as the Rams travel to face the UNLV Rebels in Las Vegas.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 2 3 4 F
AFA 14 3 14 3 34
CSU 0 10 0 6 14
Stucker- 5-10-1 49yds