CSU defense cracks to CU

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Sep 182011
 
Authors: Kevin Lytle

DENVER—The Rocky Mountain Showdown was tied at 7 with two minutes remaining in the first half when CSU blocked a punt in CU territory.

Instead of getting the ball in prime field position with a chance to take a halftime lead, the Rams handed CU possession when the ball bounced and hit Eric Niederberger in the leg, making it a live-ball, which CU pounced on.

The CU offense then struck a crippling blow when it marched down the field and scored on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Hansen to wide receiver Kyle Cefalo to give CU a 14-7 halftime lead.

“That’s probably at least a 10 point swing,” CU coach Jon Embree said. “You figure that, worst thing, they would get at least a field goal. So obviously us getting a touchdown out of that was real big. They’re (CSU) probably sick about it.”

There is little doubt that the swing had an impact beyond the scoreboard.

“I can’t even describe it,” linebacker James Skelton said about how devastating the sequence was.

The punt mishap and subsequent touchdown started a downward spiral for the CSU defense.

After one quarter, CU had been held to a miniscule 10 yards offensively. By halftime that number had grown to 171.

And after a couple early stops in the second half, the defense suffered another breakdown late in the third quarter when safety Austin Gray was beat by receiver Toney Clemons for a 44-yard touchdown down the gut of the defense to make it 21-7 CU.

After the deficit was cut to seven, it was time for the defense to step up.

But, CU executed a backbreaking, 16 play, 10 minute scoring drive that sealed a 28-14 win.

The soul-sucking drive was strongly aided by several key mistakes by the CSU defense.

The biggest error came when CU had a second and 20 play on its own half. Running back Rodney Stewart took the handoff and had nowhere to go. But defensive lineman Nuku Latu took Stewart down by his facemask, giving CU an automatic first down.

Later in the drive CU had a first and 20 after a holding penalty. On the next play, Stewart exploded for 26 yards on a screen play.

On the drive, Stewart notched 48 of his 191 total yards.

“Rodney (Stewart) did a great job, as well as the offensive line,” Hansen said of the final drive. “They told me to milk as much time as possible, so I kept looking at the play clock and kept milking it and milking it. Some penalties pushed us back, but we kept fighting and did a great job.”

A stop at any point of the drive would have given the offense a chance to make a late charge to tie the game, but the inability to get off the field in the fourth quarter cost CSU the game.

“It was so frustrating,” defensive end Nordly Capi said. “When I first looked at the clock it said 11:40, maybe 30 something. When they scored, I looked back and it said 1:15. That was very embarrassing for the defense.

“For a team to have the ball for over seven minutes period, that’s embarrassing. But a team to have the ball over 10 minutes? That was very disappointing and embarrassing.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.__DENVER—The Rocky Mountain Showdown was tied at 7 with two minutes remaining in the first half when CSU blocked a punt in CU territory.

Instead of getting the ball in prime field position with a chance to take a halftime lead, the Rams handed CU possession when the ball bounced and hit Eric Niederberger in the leg, making it a live-ball, which CU pounced on.

The CU offense then struck a crippling blow when it marched down the field and scored on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Hansen to wide receiver Kyle Cefalo to give CU a 14-7 halftime lead.

“That’s probably at least a 10 point swing,” CU coach Jon Embree said. “You figure that, worst thing, they would get at least a field goal. So obviously us getting a touchdown out of that was real big. They’re (CSU) probably sick about it.”

There is little doubt that the swing had an impact beyond the scoreboard.

“I can’t even describe it,” linebacker James Skelton said about how devastating the sequence was.

The punt mishap and subsequent touchdown started a downward spiral for the CSU defense.

After one quarter, CU had been held to a miniscule 10 yards offensively. By halftime that number had grown to 171.

And after a couple early stops in the second half, the defense suffered another breakdown late in the third quarter when safety Austin Gray was beat by receiver Toney Clemons for a 44-yard touchdown down the gut of the defense to make it 21-7 CU.

After the deficit was cut to seven, it was time for the defense to step up.

But, CU executed a backbreaking, 16 play, 10 minute scoring drive that sealed a 28-14 win.

The soul-sucking drive was strongly aided by several key mistakes by the CSU defense.

The biggest error came when CU had a second and 20 play on its own half. Running back Rodney Stewart took the handoff and had nowhere to go. But defensive lineman Nuku Latu took Stewart down by his facemask, giving CU an automatic first down.

Later in the drive CU had a first and 20 after a holding penalty. On the next play, Stewart exploded for 26 yards on a screen play.

On the drive, Stewart notched 48 of his 191 total yards.

“Rodney (Stewart) did a great job, as well as the offensive line,” Hansen said of the final drive. “They told me to milk as much time as possible, so I kept looking at the play clock and kept milking it and milking it. Some penalties pushed us back, but we kept fighting and did a great job.”

A stop at any point of the drive would have given the offense a chance to make a late charge to tie the game, but the inability to get off the field in the fourth quarter cost CSU the game.

“It was so frustrating,” defensive end Nordly Capi said. “When I first looked at the clock it said 11:40, maybe 30 something. When they scored, I looked back and it said 1:15. That was very embarrassing for the defense.

“For a team to have the ball for over seven minutes period, that’s embarrassing. But a team to have the ball over 10 minutes? That was very disappointing and embarrassing.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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