|Border war Slideshow|
Wins come in all varieties. There are pretty wins, good wins and then there's the type of win that is generally synonymous with a rivalry – the ugly win.
Ugly, that's what many Ram players said this win was. Ugly or not, the Rams (4-3 overall, 3-1 in the Mountain West) came up with a 39-31 Border War victory over Wyoming (4-4, 2-3) in a game they had no reason being in throughout much of the first half.
Two big plays kept the Rams in the game during the first half. Cowboys senior quarterback Corey Bramlet made an incorrect read on a pass and Rams sophomore cornerback Darryl Williams stepped in front and housed it 27 yards later for the Rams' first touchdown of the game.
After UW went ahead of the Rams 24-13 with 44 seconds remaining in the first half, senior quarterback Justin Holland flipped the switch. Holland led the Rams on a five-play 73-yard drive in 32 seconds, connecting with sophomore wideout Luke Roberts on a 50-yard bomb to bring the Rams to within four going into the half.
"We needed (the touchdown) desperately. We were hoping for a field goal but hey, the touchdown's even better," said senior wide receiver Dave Anderson. "Luke Roberts made a great play and got in the end zone. I was almost too tired to celebrate. That was big time."
The Rams came out and dominated the second half behind a career day from Holland. Nearly everything Holland completed in the second half turned to gold. On the day he went 20-37 for career-bests of 419 yards and four touchdowns. He threw only one interception, occurring in the first quarter.
"It was an unbelievable effort by everyone," Holland said. "Our offensive line played their butts off. Wyoming came out and was determined to stop the run, but we got the plays we needed to get done. It was a great day for the offense."
One player who contributed to the offense's great day was Anderson. On the stat sheet it may look like the battle between the two Mountain West Conference wideouts was won by Wyoming's Jovon Bouknight. In the second half where it really counted however, Anderson was the man.
Anderson had three of his six receptions for 133 of his 169 yards in the second half. Anderson also had an 82-yard touchdown reception in which he ran over two Wyoming defenders and out ran another.
Bouknight did great in the second half with six of his 12 receptions for 80 of his 187 yards and one of his three touchdown receptions. With the Cowboys' comeback on the line however, the wideout lost a fumble in the fourth quarter, allowing CSU to run down the clock.
While the Rams are very pleased with their Border War victory, they know their next two games, both on the road, have to be played much better in order to win.
"This was an ugly victory – a lot of mistakes, a lot of three and outs," said senior offensive lineman Mike Brisiel. "We've got to find a way to sustain some drives. There's too many three and outs [we have] stop making mistakes and killing ourselves. But guys stepped up and gutted it out. That was a freaking awesome win."
The Rams were able to retain The Boot despite some major obstacles. The most obvious was the continued kicking woes of senior place kicker Kevin Mark.
Mark missed a 36-yard field goal and two extra point attempts. Had he made even one of those kicks the drama at the end of the game would have been nonexistent because the Rams would have led by at least nine. There is a chance the Rams will make a change at kicker, possibly looking at red shirt freshman Jason Smith, who began to loosen up during the game as if he would go in if needed.
The other negative for the Rams was injuries. CSU had to pull out the win despite losing starters at linebacker in senior Jahmal Hall, senior defensive end Terrance Carter and junior b-back Tristan Walker.
The Rams travel to Albuquerque, N.M. Friday to face UNM (5-3, 3-2), who are coming off a 47-24 victory at San Diego State. The game will be at 6 pm on ESPN2.
Much of the talk following the game was about the emotional scene in the locker room involving coach Tom Ehlers, the Rams' director of football operations. Ehlers father, who was very involved with Rams football team, passed away earlier in the week. Ehlers was given the game ball after the game and walked out of the locker room with The Boot.
"It was a very emotional game," Holland said. "Those two guys (coach Ehlers and his father) love CSU football the most, so we wanted to come out here and play our hearts out for them. When we got to see (coach Ehlers) hold the boot we all kind of got emotional. It was such a great moment."