CSUâ€™s convincing 33-14 win Saturday over Northern Colorado was bittersweet as the Rams showed firepower offensively, but suffered serious injuries, including one to the teamâ€™s best player.
Senior linebacker and team captain Mychal Sisson suffered an injury to his right ankle while blocking on a punt return late in the first half and remained down for a prolonged period of time.
Sisson was helped off the field and taken to Poudre Valley Hospital for x-rays.
The team announced Sunday that Sisson suffered a fractured ankle. He had surgery on the ankle and has since been released from the hospital.
â€œOther than what he obviously does to help us on the field, from an intangibles and leadership standpoint, thereâ€™s really no way to replace him,â€ coach Steve Fairchild said in a press release on Sunday. â€œIf we had 22 Myke Sissons, weâ€™d win the national championship every year.â€
Starting fullback Austin Gillmore also left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and defensive lineman Scott Carter sustained a knee injury in the second quarter.
Sissonâ€™s injury leaves a void in the leadership of the team and more specifically the defense. A void senior Ivory Herd plans to fill.
â€œMe and Sisson have been here since we were freshmen, and to see him go down like that hurt me deep,â€ Herd said. â€œI know people look up to me as a team captain to go out and perform. I have to fill in for Sisson. Itâ€™s my time to communicate with the whole defense.â€
CSUâ€™s offense started the game blistering hot, scoring touchdowns on the first three drives of the game to jump out to an early 21-0 lead. Diverse play-calling and an effective running game had UNCâ€™s defense on its heels.
However, the second half saw a lapse in play on both sides of the ball. This hiccup was attributed to being distracted by the multiple injuries and lack of focus according to several players.
While the Ramsâ€™ running attack looked crisp, sophomore quarterback Pete Thomas did not. Thomas struggled at times, forcing passes down field, finishing the game with one touchdown and three interceptions.
â€œObviously Iâ€™ve got to be better. Canâ€™t make those interceptions,â€ Thomas said. â€œThat will kill us against a better opponent.â€
Thomas threw for 259 yards on 28 completions in 42 attempts. He also reached a milestone, throwing for 3,000 yards in his career faster than any quarterback in school history.
The Ramsâ€™ defense was able to make plays, forcing two turnovers both by way of interception from Herd and junior cornerback Dominique Vinson. Sophomore linebacker Mike Orakpo led the team with 10 tackles.
â€œWhen we play fast we can be a good defense, so thatâ€™s what I was doing just flying to the football,â€ Orakpo said.
UNC was limited to 216 yards of total offense, only 87 of which came through the air.
The Rams now turn their attention to CU-Boulder and the Rocky Mountain Showdown Saturday, knowing they have to put together a complete game.
â€œWe got to come out like we did in the first half and play all four quarters like that against CU, and itâ€™s going to be a great game,â€ Thomas said.
Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.