The tone for the game was set early for the Colorado State defense when freshman linebacker Mike Orakpo stopped UNLV running back Deante Purvis dead in his tracks â€“ while airborne â€“ causing a Runninâ€™ Rebel ball carrierâ€™s helmet to fly from the five yard line to the 20.
The Ramsâ€™ defense was tested little in the red zone after that encounter, allowing a season-low 10 points to UNLV (1-5, 1-2 MWC) Saturday.
CSU led by 6-foot-3, 302-pound senior nose tackle Guy Miller.
Miller surpassed legendary defensive ends Brady Smith and Mike Bell to capture the schoolâ€™s record for most sacks in a single game with 4.5.
The record stood for 15 years since Smith tied Bell in 1995.
Both Smith and Bell went on to play professional football and Bell was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1979 NFL draft.
â€œFor Guy Miller to do that, particularly in an inside spot, is remarkable,â€ said CSU coach Steve Fairchild. â€œI find myself in between offensive series not being able to take my eye off of him because heâ€™s playing so well.â€
Miller set the school record despite being frequently double teamed by the UNLV offensive line, making his feat even more impressive.
â€œIâ€™m going to say it was a little luck, I mean the whole defense played good,â€ Miller said. â€œSome of those sacks a lot of the guys were making (UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton) scramble and I was just in the right place at the right time, so a lot of those Iâ€™m giving credit to the whole defense.â€
CSU (2-5, 1-2 MWC) brought Clayton down a total of six times for a combined loss of 33 yards and three quarterback hurries.
Clayton finished the game with 114 yards passing on 23 attempts and no touchdowns.
Junior linebacker Mychal Sisson finished Saturday as the gameâ€™s leading tackler with 13 take downs and a sack.
â€œI felt the energy from (the offense) and our crowd,â€ Sisson said. â€œIf our crowd and our offense come out like they did today, itâ€™s a lovely day for us.â€
The Ramsâ€™ defensive pressure was critical in setting up the offense with great field position throughout the game.
Fairchild credited his defense and special teams play with allowing the offense to produce points.
In addition to keeping Clayton and the passing attack in check, the Rams stood firm against UNLVâ€™s running backs Tim Cornett and Purvis.
Neither back eclipsed the 100-yard mark; however, Cornett scored the Rebelsâ€™ lone touchdown on a fourth down conversion in the second quarter.
Millerâ€™s accomplishment will forever have his name in CSUâ€™s record book, but the only thing that matters to Miller is what this game means to the team.
â€œ(Winning) is the best thing. We needed a win, we needed a win bad,â€ Miller said. â€œEspecially going into Utah next week, we really need to change this momentum back to a winning season.â€
Football beat reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.