The Rocky Mountain Showdown was a defining moment in Marcus Houston’s career. He needed to show that not only could he run as well as his reputation proclaimed, he could also do it against his old team. He may not have gotten the win, but by gaining 104 yards, he proved that he can find the holes and break through them.
“I am very proud of Marcus,” head coach Sonny Lubick said. “I think it was really a shot in the arm for his confidence. He got stronger and better as the game went on.”
Houston did not emerge in the Ram backfield until the CSU’s third possession and even then, two false start penalties erased his carries. After the whistle blew, Houston and CU defensive end Marques Harris engaged in a small pushing war in which no penalties were given.
“It was just guys going out there being aggressive, playing the game,” Houston said.
Colorado’s Sean Tufts noticed that when Houston was on the field and felt the level of emotion rise.
“Yeah there was (more emotion), especially early in the game when he punched Marques Harris, that pumped us up,” Tufts said. “Then he started running well and that pumped us up even more.”
Houston finished the first quarter with one carry for two yards, but when the second quarter started, Houston let his numbers do the talking. He zigzagged his way past CU’s defensive line for a gain of 36 yards and a Ram first down.
From then on, he made his presence felt in the game.
Colorado’s fans also noticed when Houston was on the field and booed every time his name was announced.
“I kind of tuned them out,” Houston said in response to the CU fans. “I got the ball 14 times so maybe they booed 14 times, but I don’t think it helped out.”
Houston ended the game with 104 yards on 15 carries for an average of 6.9 yards per carry. He rushed for five CSU first downs, including the 36-yard run that set up Bradlee Van Pelt’s touchdown pass to Chris Pittman for CSU’s second score.
He out-rushed Colorado’s running backs Brian Calhoun by 30 yards and Bobby Purify by 60 yards. He was also never taken down for a loss, while Calhoun and Purify lost eight yards between them.
After the game, head coach Sonny Lubick was impressed by CSU’s offensive performance.
“Offensively we were a thing of beauty out there,” Lubick said. “It was higher scoring than most of us thought it would be.”
The 585 total yards gained by the Rams, is the most by a Sonny-Lubick coached team against CU.
Offensive Stats and Records
Bradlee Van Pelt as a quarterback:
* Went 18 for 38 with one interception. Passed his previous career high in passing yards (229 at Virginia, 2002) by over 100 yards, throwing for 339.
* Threw for a career-best three touchdowns.
* Van Pelt’s 339 passing yards were the most yards passing by a CSU quarterback since Matt Newton threw for 334 at Air Force in 2000.
Bradlee Van Pelt as a running back:
* He ran for 77 yards on 13 carries, 5.9 yards per carry.
* He rushed for two touchdowns, including the 30-yard dash to tie the game at 35.
* Chris Pittman set a new school record for season openers with 144 receiving yards.
* David Anderson got a career-best 142 receiving yards, crushing his previous best of 97 against Fresno State. He had four receptions in the season opener, after only having eight total in 2002. Pittman and David Anderson combined to become the first duo at CSU since 1981to have more than 100 yards receiving in the same game.
* Pittman caught two touchdown passes, doubling his season total from 2002.
* Tight end Joel Dressen caught five passes for 42 yards, extending his reception streak to 25 consecutive games. Pittman has a reception in 15 consecutive games.
CSU’s running game rushed for 246 yards, more than doubling CU’s total of 102.
With 104 yards, Marcus Houston out-rushed CU.