The Colorado State Rams finally put it all together on offense in the first half of Saturdayâ€™s 43-10 route of UNLV, making the third and fourth quarters little more than a formality.
The Rams (2-5, 1-2 MWC) showed exactly why head coach Steve Fairchild has remained optimistic â€“â€“ even after the teamâ€™s dismal first half of the season.
â€œThere was a nice little stretch in the first half that we showed the type of team that weâ€™re capable of being,â€ Fairchild said. â€œIâ€™ve been thinking (the team looked good) in practice for the last three weeks â€¦ I knew at some point it was going to translate out there.â€
Saturdayâ€™s game marks the Ramsâ€™ first Mountain West Conference victory since November of 2008 against Wyoming, and the 43 points are the most scored in a single game during Fairchildâ€™s tenure.
CSU exhibited a balanced attack in the blowout of the Rebels (1-6, 1-2). Quarterback Pete Thomas enjoyed the most efficient game of his young career, hitting on 10 of 14 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
â€œAll week we talked about starting fast, and we havenâ€™t started a game fast yet, and we obviously did that (Saturday),â€ Thomas said. â€œWe kept the pressure on them in the first half and it was a great feeling.â€
Instrumental to Thomasâ€™ success was the Ramsâ€™ electric sophomore wide receiver Lou Greenwood. Greenwood caught two passes for 128 yards â€“â€“ including a 73-yard touchdown in the second quarter in which Greenwood tiptoed down the sideline before breaking away from the defense.
Greenwood transitioned to receiver this season, after committing to CSU as a running back out of Conroe High School in Texas. The Rams have used the versatile receiver in a variety of ways this season, but Saturday marked his breakout performance.
â€œThree weeks ago I felt like I could only do certain things,â€ said Greenwood, who also rushed for 12 yards on the day. â€œBut now I feel like I can do everything when it comes to being a receiver.â€
Wide receivers coach Dan Hammerschmidt has been impressed with Greenwoodâ€™s development.
â€œWhen we moved (Greenwood) from running back, it was a little bit of a struggle,â€ Hammerschmidt said. â€œHe has continued to work and learn the offense, he is making unbelievable progress.â€
Greenwoodâ€™s influence on Saturdayâ€™s game was not limited to the spectacular catches made or the dazzling end around carries, his mere presence was valuable, stretching the UNLV defense to honor his deep threat ability.
Tight end Eric Peitz benefited mightily from the Rebels defensive adjustments, as he grabbed a career-best two touchdowns in the win. Peitz joked that the last time heâ€™d scored twice in a game was at recess.
â€œIâ€™ve never had two (touchdowns) in a game,â€ Peitz said. â€œIt was really good to see what we can do when everybody plays at a high level.â€
For the second consecutive week, Leonard Mason shouldered most of the load for the Ramsâ€™ running game. And again, Mason produced, this time to the tune of 122 yards and a touchdown.
â€œPretty much, it was time to let the beast out,â€ said Mason, who had a career-long 52-yard run Saturday. â€œWe really needed this (win) going into next week. Itâ€™ll bring all the guys up.â€
As a team, the Rams gashed the Rebels for 259 yards on the ground.
The Rams will look to carry their offensive momentum into this weekend, as they travel to Salt Lake City to face No. 10 Utah.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.