It was do-or-die for CSU on Saturday afternoon and they “did” as the Rams (5-6, 3-4 MWC) knocked off New Mexico 20-6 to keep their postseason dreams alive.
Senior running back Gartrell Johnson III made his Senior Day one to remember as he ran for more yards than any other player had against the Lobos all season, earning 131 yards and a touchdown. He also had 47 receiving yards.
After the game Rams head coach Steve Fairchild heralded Johnson as one of his favorite players he had ever coached at any level. Johnson smiled when he heard the compliment.
“Oh, that’s great. He’s coached guys like Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and guys like Marshawn Lynch,” said Johnson after the game. “To be even in that category is awesome.”
Johnson also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the season with his 12-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, making him the first CSU running back since Kyle Bell in 2005 to reach that accomplishment.
“It’s just great for the whole team, great for my O-line, great for me. I came so close last year, it just feels great,” Johnson said.
From Jason Smith’s 25-yard field goal on the CSU’s opening drive, the Rams controlled the entire tempo of the game with only two errors, interceptions by Farris, to slow them down. CSU finished the game with 389 total yards of offense, including 237 passing yards from Farris, highlighted by a toe-dragging touchdown catch by Dion Morton in the back of the end zone.
Farris, who was only sacked once, gave the credit to his offensive line.
“They did a really great job,” said Farris after his final game at Hughes Stadium. “They came up to me after the game last week (against Air Force) and said, ‘Hey, we got you this week, we know that was a little rough,’ and they took care of me today.”
Not to be outdone, the Rams defense allowed a season-low six points on two field goals. Sophomore linebacker Ricky Brewer was proud of the way his teammates played.
“That was just the kind of defense that exemplifies what a coach wants,” said Brewer, who recorded nine tackles on the afternoon. “You want all facets of your defense working together. Our corners, our secondary did a great job. I have to commend Jeff (Horinek) and Mike (Sisson) for coming up out of coverage and making plays.”
Football beat writer Matt Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.