For the sixth consecutive season, the CSU football team was able to handle the Rebels of UNLV, as the Rams won another close match at Hughes Stadium Saturday afternoon 41-28 behind the rushing attack of Gartrell Johnson III.
With 6:04 left in the fourth quarter, UNLV (3-2, 0-2) took a 28-27 lead over the Rams thanks to the passing attack of Omar Clayton. Clayton led a seven play, 94-yard drive, concluding with a 21 yard touchdown pass to Jerriman Robison, Clayton’s second of the day.
CSU responded by methodically driving 80 yards down the field for the game winning touchdown. Gartrell Johnson ran it in from ten yards out with nine seconds left on the play clock, to secure his third touchdown of the day. Johnson followed up his touchdown with a successful two-point conversion.
Johnson takes no credit and gives his respect to the CSU offensive line.
“It’s really the offensive line,” said the senior running back. “We watched the game film from last year and that was our whole emphasis because we totally dominated them last year. That always gives you confidence and we were able to dominate today.”
The rushing game for both CSU and the Rebels dominated Saturday’s contest. To go with his three touchdowns, Johnson had 33 carries for 191 yards–an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Even Ram quarterback Billy Farris out rushed UNLV’s multidimensional Clayton 25 yards to 23 yards.
“I just kinda took that from last game,” said Farris. “I didn’t stay in the pocket and try and make the throw when I felt pressure. I got out of there and I wanted to do that this game. I felt like I did a decent job.”
For UNLV, running back Frank Summers had 20 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.
For as well as the running game worked for the Rams, Farris and junior wide receiver Rashaun Greer had a field day of big plays. Farris threw for 294 yards and a touchdown; that touchdown was to CSU’s leading receiver Rashaun Greer, his first of the season, who ended the game with 211 receiving yards. Greer’s career day earned him the rank of fifth all-time for CSU receiving yards in a single game.
“I think he’s had a tremendous year thus far. I’ve always said that about him,” said CSU head coach Steve Fairchild when asked about Greer’s performance. “I was very critical of him in spring ball, but with when he came back and had the fall camp the way that he did, he does not know how good he can be.”
The final play of Saturday’s game, if nothing else, was sure to get CSU fans even more excited about Ram football than they were already. With nine seconds left on the clock, CSU booted a squib-kickoff that forced UNLV to run a lateral return, reminiscent to Cal-Stanford’s famous 1982 ending.
This time, however, the defense scored as the Rams’ John Mosure forced a fumble, batting the ball from the return team, scooping and scoring to give the Rams the 41-28 win and preserve CSU’s undefeated record at home.
The Rams are only five games into the season and they have already equaled their win total from last season, halfway to bowl eligibility. Fairchild says despite the hot start, his team is focused on TCU next weekend, and there is still a long season ahead.