The Colorado Springs Gazette

Rams fall just shy of upset bid


BOULDER • Jay Norvell implored his team to fight back.

Colorado State is going to get punched in the mouth, as all teams do. The coach wanted his team to respond better against No. 18 Colorado than they did in a drubbing from Washington State in week one. The Rams did just that two weeks later in Saturday’s 43-35 double overtime loss at Folsom Field.

The final attempt at a comeback fell short in a second overtime, but the fight lasted 60-plus minutes.

“I’m just really proud of our team and our kids — the way they competed,” Norvell said. “It was one of the best college games I’ve ever been a part of.”

Led by junior tight end Dallin Holker, the Rams overcame their mistakes, just as he did. After a fumble in the third quarter, he grabbed a pass hovering just above the ground and took it 35 yards for a touchdown to go up two possessions in the fourth quarter.

His six catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns were needed after the host’s first swings came on the opening Rams’ drive.

Penalties turned the opening drive into a first-and-28 situation before newly installed quarterback Brayden Fowler-nicolosi could catch a breath. The next drive, the redshirt freshman led the Rams down the field before a roughing the snapper on a field goal attempt extended their drive.

It ended up being for the worst as he threw an interception that Buffaloes graduate transfer Shilo Sanders took 80 yards to the opposing end zone.

Colorado State punched back with a trick play after miscues plagued them each of the first two drives. Senior Tory Horton went in motion across the formation before receiving a pass and gearing up for his own 30-yard touchdown pass to Holker.

The ensuing Buffaloes’ drive, senior Ron Hardge III scooped up a Travis Hunter fumble and scored from 45 yards out. The two counter strikes gave the Rams a 14-7 lead just over two minutes after the Colorado interception.

“We knew what we were getting into,” Hardge said. “We showed that we can really compete on this stage. I think teams come in and underestimate us.”

Colorado received the second-half kick, but Colorado State landed the first punch out of the locker room.

After holding the Buffaloes to a three-and-out, the Rams ran the ball down the to Colorado 11-yard line before a fumble killed their momentum. Another stop on defense cleared up the miscue. When they had a kick blocked, they did the same back to Colorado on its ensuing drive.

Each blow dealt by the Buffaloes faded quickly.

As the counter strikes came from the Rams, the Folsom Field crowd lost its early luster. The Buffaloes, thanks in part to a Lil Wayne introduction onto the field, carried their home-field advantage to an early lead — a pregame scuffle between the two teams also increased the noise.

The pass rush found its heartbeat too with the momentum. After allowing 82 yards in the first quarter, the Colorado State allowed 11 in the second. Even when the Buffaloes put up yards in the second half, the visitors held them to six points before the host’s final drive.

Washington State gave the Rams a game’s worth of film to find their flaws, and one was a lack of intensity after early pitfalls. Norvell and company fixed it, and nearly earned the biggest win of his tenure.

“Football is about learning that it’s about your team and not the other team,” Norvell said. “It will be the same thing next week and the week after that. Once our guys learn to go out and play, and play our style of football without worrying about who’s on the other side, that’s when we’ll have a real good football team.

“We made a big step tonight.”





The Gazette, Colorado Springs