If you love offense, this was the game for you.
CSU came out on fire in their orange throwback Aggies uniforms, giving their special Ag Day game an exciting feel for fans.
The Rams scored with a quickness, taking only five plays for Garrett Grayson to connect with tight end Kivon Cartwright for the 7-0 lead. After UTEP tied up the game at seven, Colorado State put up 21 unanswered points to lead 28-7 at halftime.
In the second half, though, the Miners were the ones to play with all the emotion. UTEP stormed out of the break, scoring on their first play from scrimmage, a 75-yard bomb from Jameill Showers to Jordan Leslie. The poor play by CSU was compounded when Bernard Blake was injured, stopping the game for multiple minutes as he was carted off the field.
The Miners capitalized on their momentum, putting up 21 unanswered points of their own, in only seven minutes, to tie the game at 28.
Simply, the Rams were reeling – they had been punched three times in the mouth (TDs) and once in the gut (Blake’s injury) – and they needed a big play in a big way.
Finally, Shaquil Barrett came up with that play, running around a tackle to sack Showers, force a fumble in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. CSU took back the lead, 30-28, and then never looked back.
They pushed it to 37-28 when Grayson hit Rashard Higgins and the freshman ran for 56 yards to pay dirt.
Colorado State wouldn’t stop there though, they put up two more touchdowns – a Kapri Bibbs 37-yard run and a Grayson one-yard dive – to run the score to 52-28. It was a dominating performance and a wonderful way to bounce back after being hit hard by UTEP.
The Miners didn’t quit, scoring a passing touchdown and a two-point conversion to bring it to 52-36, but it was too little, too late. Especially when Bibbs took another run to the crib, 34 yards, to make it 59-36.
And then, as time ran out, UTEP scored again to make it 59-42.
This was the most complete game CSU’s played all season – especially if you discount the poor play to start the second half – and they out-gained UTEP 591-497 in yards.
For Colorado State, their 59 points were the most scored by the team since 1997.
Grayson enjoyed his greatest game as a collegiate quarterback, with a career-high 307 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and one score on the ground while not turning the ball over once. Likewise, his true freshman receiver Higgins set career-highs for receiving yards (108) and touchdowns (two), while Bibbs’ three scores and 147 rushing yards were career-bests.
With the decisive win, Colorado State improves to 2-3 on the season, while UTEP falls to 1-4.
“What a great Aggie Day, seeing all that orange and us giving a shout out to our heritage and what we’re all about here as Aggies,” head coach Jim McElwain said after the victory. “I think our guys came out and gave a lot of people something to be proud of today.”
More CSU Rams:
Shaq Barrett a beast in win over UTEP
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. Follow Rich on twitter (@RichKurtzman) for all your CSU Rams news and opinion.