Two years after Colorado State had a predator, it found a beast.
For the first time since the 2008 season, the Rams had a running back rush for three touchdowns in a single game when senior Leonard Mason released his inner monster against New Mexico on Saturday.
The last back to accomplish the feat was Gartrell Johnson III, nicknamed the â€œpredatorâ€ because of his signature dreadlocks that made him look like the creature from the popular 1980s movie.
Masonâ€™s self-created alter ego has reared its head three times this season, going for 100 yards each time he has received a sizable workload.
â€œI let the beast out man, beast mode,â€ Mason said.
Mason totaled 124 yards on 15 carries for an average of 8.3 yards.
A large chunk of those yards came from a 38-yard streak down the sideline on a fourth down and two in the second quarter.
According to Mason, his success came from treating each carry like it could be his last after not playing the week before against No. 5 Utah.
CSU coach Steve Fairchild liked what he saw from the â€œbeast.â€
â€œHe was finishing runs,â€ Fairchild said. â€œHeâ€™s the body-type back that can wear defenses down. I think (New Mexico) got tired of tackling him.â€
The â€œbeastâ€ set the tone early, blasting a New Mexico defender square in the chest, taking him out of the game, but Mason gave most of the credit to the much improved offensive line.
â€œI personally think they get better every game,â€ Mason said. â€œThey struggled a little bit last week, but I think weâ€™re getting it together.â€
CSUâ€™s offensive line proved Mason right, dominating the Lobosâ€™ defensive front to the tune of 328 rushing yards and four touchdowns as a team.
â€œWe strive to be really good, and I think weâ€™re on the way to it,â€ said center Weston Richburg. â€œWe just got to keep working and keep having games like this.â€
For the second straight week, redshirt freshman Chris Nwoke got the start at running back and fell just short of the 100-yard mark with 98.
â€œItâ€™s good. We compete hard in practice and the cards lay out Saturday,â€ Nwoke said. â€œYou just take it as it is and when the next back gets his chance you cheer him on.â€
The seasonâ€™s original starting running back, Raymond Carter, got back on the field after sitting out the last three games with a knee injury suffered against No. 3 TCU on Oct. 2.
Carter only saw five carries, but made the most of them, including a 34-yard dash in the second quarter.
His run would set up Masonâ€™s long fourth-down touchdown later in the drive.
The Rams had three different running backs have a run of 34 yards or longer.
The most exciting was a double reverse to freshman speedster Tony Drake that turned into a 34-yard touchdown. It was Drakeâ€™s first collegiate touchdown.
â€œIt felt good just to make a touchdown and do something positive for the team, get the ball and make a play with it,â€ Drake said. â€œI just saw green grass and ran to it. Thatâ€™s it.â€
Football Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.