The Rams finally found what they were looking for.
The elusive blowout victory that had evaded CSU’s clutches was realized Thursday – in a big way. The Rams 37-10 victory over BYU was the largest victory of the season and marked CSU’s best defensive performance yet.
The Cougars managed a meager 213 yards of total offense, due in part to the fact that the Rams harassed BYU quarterback Matt Berry all night and sacked the redshirt freshman four times.
“Hell, yeah,” linebacker Eric Pauly said of the defensive performance. “I think we put a whole game together, finally. No more reading in the paper about how the Rams let ’em come back. They put up 50-something points on us last year and I think everyone took that to heart and thought about that.”
Running back Cecil Sapp topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season with yet another stellar performance. The junior finished the night with 164 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns.
“It’s kind of weird looking up there and having a 27-point victory,” receiver Joey Cuppari said. “It feels good, though. We came out and we were determined. We played well and we stuck it to them.”
In the first quarter, there was absolutely no stopping the Rams. CSU put up 17 points, the most in the first period this season, thanks to two fumbles by the Cougars in their own territory. Place kicker Jeff Babcock opened the scoring for the Rams on their first possession with a 31-yard field goal.
The Cougars fumbled on the ensuing drive, and CSU wasted no time in getting to the end zone, needing only two plays before Sapp scored his 13th touchdown of the season. A fumbled snap on the Cougars’ next possession gave the Rams the ball on the BYU 32-yard line. CSU then rushed the ball eight consecutive plays before Bradlee Van Pelt scrambled for a 3-yard touchdown, capping the impressive first quarter for the Rams.
The tide turned quickly, however, as the Cougars rattled off 10 unanswered points on drives of 84 and 78 yards to start the second quarter. The Rams had a chance to extend their lead after the Cougars lost yet another fumble in their own territory, but they came away with no points after a fake field goal attempt was thwarted by the BYU defense.
With the half winding down, the Rams responded on their next possession when junior running back Rahsaan Sanders finished off a four-play drive with a 21-yard score to put the Rams up 24-10 at the half.
“This might be the best that we have looked all season, with the offense and defense feeding off each other,” head coach Sonny Lubick said. “We had control throughout the game, especially in the second half.”
The defenses for both teams decided to show up after halftime, and the only scoring in the third quarter came on Jeff Babcock’s 27-yard field goal to extend the Rams’ lead to 27-10. CSU’s defense forced the Cougars to punt twice, and held BYU to 21 yards of total offense in the third period.
For the first time this season, it appeared the Rams were pulling away from an opponent – and they were. The defensive effort continued in the fourth quarter and CSU kept the Cougars out of the end zone for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, the Rams’ offense poured it on with another touchdown run from Sapp, and Babcock’s third field goal of the game.
The blowout was on, and for the first time this season, the Rams’ backups took the field to finish the game.
-Edited by Jon Ackerman and Ben Koerselman
Stars of the Game:
Offense: Cecil Sapp
The junior had his sixth 100-yard performance of the season and reached the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in his career. He also added two touchdowns.
Defense: Adam Wade
The junior linebacker recorded 15 tackles including three for a loss and a sack.
Special Teams: Jeff Babcock
The Rams’ place kicker was perfect, connecting on three field goals of 27, 31, and 40 yards. He leads the MWC in field goals