Sep 252011
 
Authors: Cris Tiller

I stood on the sideline, in the end zone, my heart racing and the air was thick with excitement.
It was overtime, on the road and just the second time I had ever witnessed a college football overtime game in person.

Each play unfolded mere yards in front of me, as I found myself struggling to keep composed as a journalist covering a game while as a fan being anxiety ridden as CSU and Utah State went back and forth. In a game where the offenses had been almost painful to watch, all of a sudden both sprung to life with the game on the line.

USU running back Robert Turbin rushed wide to the left, right in front of me and collided with CSU cornerback Momo Thomas, so close the crack of the pads sounded like a car accident.
The play ended the game, the Rams rushed the field in a frenzy and I knew I had just witnessed something amazing.

The nerve racking 35-34 double overtime victory showed us that this CSU football team has something we maybe didn’t know they had—grit. Saturday’s win, and the fashion it came in, very well may have saved thisseason for the Rams.

Yeah that’s right I said it. At 3-1 CSU has a legitimate chance of reaching six wins and going to a bowl game for the first time since 2008, coach Steve Fairchild’s inaugural season.

I will be the first to admit I had CSU winning just five games before the year started and up until Saturday I was feeling pretty good about that prediction. Now I’m changing my tune after one game. I know most of you are thinking I’m overreacting, and well I might be, but for those of you who weren’t there, I’m telling you there was something in the air that night.

When the Rams recovered the muffed punt they did what they needed to and scored a touchdown. Then Pete Thomas, who struggled for most of the night, put the rest of the game aside and hit a wide-open Crockett Gillmore for the two-point conversion.

Then USU took its first possession in overtime for a touchdown in just three plays, CSU’s offense responded with a dominant drive of its own. In the second overtime the Rams did what they had to do again and scored a touchdown to put the pressure on USU.

After USU decided to go for the win with a two-point conversion of its own, CSU stepped up not once, but twice to seal the deal following a terrible pass interference call. The Rams showed character and determination. The win proved this team does have what it takes to have success.

The celebration on the field paled in comparison to one in the locker-room where cheers were so loud they penetrated the concrete walls and were perfectly audible where we stood awaiting interviews. Linebacker Mike Orakpo described the scene in the locker-room as “a party”.

Taking a step back, there are still concerns with this team. In the first half CSU failed to take advantage of two turnovers and good field position. The offense remains vertically challenged, accumulating a very-below average 108 yards passing and 232 yards of total offense. The Rams also failed to correct problems on third down, going 5 of 17 (29 percent).

Quarterback Pete Thomas did address the offense’s failures after the game saying, “(USU) basically handed us the game in the first half and we couldn’t do anything on offense.” But if Thomas and the rest of the offense can carry over the clutch performance from the last minute and overtimes, there just may be hope for this season.

It was just one game, but I’m telling you this one was different..

Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:05 pm

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