It was a tale of two halves for the Colorado State defense on Saturday, as the Rams fell to No. 5 TCU by a count of 27-0 at Hughes Stadium.
The Rams (1-4, 0-1 MWC) did well to frustrate the TCU offense in the first half, holding the Horned Frogs to just six points and 164 total yards. Trailing by less than a touchdown going into halftime, the Rams felt good about their defensive effort.
And then came the third quarter.
The Horned Frogs racked up 174 yards rushing in the third quarter alone, with four different players carrying for 25 yards or more in the frame. TCU sophomore running back Matthew Tucker set the tone for the quarter, exploding for 47 yards up the right sideline on the third play of the half.
â€œIf you look at the first half, that was some of the best tackling that we have had all season,â€ said Rams linebacker Ricky Brewer. â€œUnfortunately, we were not able to deliver the same intensity and the same physicality that we did in the first half.â€
The Rams were worn down over the stretch of four quarters, largely because of TCUâ€™s ability to rotate between three productive running backs in Tucker, Ed Wesley and Wayman James. The three backs combined for 222 yards rushing and a pair of scores on the afternoon. CSU linebacker Mychal Sisson said the fresh legs at running back made all the difference for the Horned Frogs.
â€œIf they are constantly putting in fresh legs, itâ€™s going to wear down on us and that showed,â€ Sisson said. â€œWhen a team like that gets momentum, itâ€™s hard to keep them from doing what they want to do.â€
While it was the Rams defense that failed to slow down the run game of TCU in the second half, the offense did little to help. The Rams possessed the ball for just four of the 15 minutes in the third, picking up only 23 yards and failing to move the chains even once.
Quarterback Pete Thomas was disgusted with the effort, saying the Rams played terribly on Saturday.
CSU coach Steve Fairchild was pleased with the Ramsâ€™ defensive first half performance, but said his teamâ€™s inability to move the ball on offense ultimately sealed its fate.
â€œI thought our football team stood in there and played well in the first half, particularly keeping (TCU) out of the end zone,â€ Fairchild said. â€œWhen you play that poorly offensively, it wears your defense down and gives (TCU) a lot of snaps and opportunities to do what they do.â€
The Ramsâ€™ difficulty in stopping the run is disconcerting, as they will travel south to Colorado Springs this upcoming Saturday to face the Air Force Falcons, who boast the number one rushing attack in the nation.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.