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By Austin Bengford
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - For the first time in the 2015 season, the Colorado State Rams suffered a defeat, dropping an overtime heartbreaker to Minnesota, 23-20, Saturday at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. The loss ended CSU's historic nine-game home winning streak and came in front of a sellout crowd of 32,500 on Military Appreciation Day.
Led by junior linebacker Kevin Davis, who finished with a career-high 11 tackles, CSU's defense started out strong. The Rams forced the Golden Gophers into four straight three-and-out possessions, while recovering a fumble in CSU territory on the fifth possession. By halftime, the Rams had held Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner to just 8-of-19 completions for 50 yards, allowing the offense only two field goals during the first half. This helped the Rams carry a 7-6 lead heading into the break.
Late in the third quarter, freshman quarterback Coleman Key entered the game to help revive a struggling Rams offense, replacing starting quarterback Nick Stevens. Stevens finished the game throwing 8-of-19 for 51 yards. Key's first drive resulted in a field goal to cut the deficit to 13-10, and on the next, he hit senior wide receiver Joe Hansley for a 49-yard touchdown strike to give the Rams a 17-13 advantage.
Minnesota responded, though, scoring a touchdown of its own in the final minute of the game, before Key marched the offense down the field to the Minnesota 20, where freshman kicker Wyatt Bryan would drill a 37-yard field goal as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
On the first play of overtime, running back Dalyn Dawkins fumbled the ball, setting up a game-winning field goal for the Gophers. Despite the fumble, Dawkins was the Rams' leading rusher with 92 yards and a touchdown, a 17-yard dash less than 5 minutes into the game. Key finished the game throwing 8-of-19 completions for 91 yards and one touchdown.
IN THEIR WORDS...
“That was a tough game today for our guys, but that’s why you play the game and that’s why you play for 60 minutes. I thought it was a true test. As I told the guys in there today, I’m not and I know they’re not into moral victories. We play the game to win the game and the bottom line is that we didn’t do enough to win the football game. We finished to get it to overtime, but we didn’t finish in overtime. The guys did what I asked, they played hard for 60 minutes, they played for each other, and they never doubted. That’s a good sign that we stayed together. –Head Coach Mike Bobo
“We worked on it all week and we pretty much stopped the run, and whenever there was an open receiver, we were there to cut them off. We did what coach asked of us. We have to stick together. We played well in both halves and came back to kick the game-tying field goal and that was good. We just didn’t finish and overtime hurt.” –senior LB Cory James
“We did a great job preparing all week. I think we are the most prepared team in the country, the way Coach Summers has us working. We go through reps over and over again so when we see the same formation and same play we call it out. The defense did a great job recognizing the formations today.” –senior S Kevin Pierre-Louis
“There are a couple passes that I wish I could have back, but it is a team effort and I am just trying to do my part to help Colorado State have the best chance of winning. It’s all about executing. Offensively I thought we were just stopping ourselves, we are a great team and we just have to go out there and play like we finished the ball game.” –freshman QB Coleman Key
STAT OF THE GAME...
Despite the loss, CSU was in control for the majority of the game, leading for 40 minutes and 40 seconds.
- Saturday marked the first time since 2007 that a school from a Power-5 conference has played at Hughes Stadium.
- The sellout crowd (32,500) is CSU's third in its past six home games. Prior to last season, the program's most-recent sellout was in 2004.
- Saturday marked CSU's fourth-ever overtime game, and first since a double-overtime win at Utah State (Sept. 24, 2011).
- Redshirt freshman QB Coleman Key took over the offense with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter, scoring 10 points during a span of 5:12. He finished 8-for-13 for 91 yards and one touchdown.
- Key hit senior WR Joe Hansley for a 49-yard touchdown two plays into the fourth quarter, giving the Rams a 17-13 lead. Hansley now has a touchdown reception in both games this season, and has eclipsed 50 yards receiving in both contests (59).
- CSU's first scoring drive went for 64 yards, all on the ground. QB Nick Stevens gained 10 yards on a third-and-long scramble, while RB Dalyn Dawkins rushed six times for 54 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown (first of his career).
- Hunt's third punt of the game rolled to the two-yard line, totaling 73 yards. The punt was the eighth-longest in school history, and the longest since Pete Kontodiakos on Sept. 29, 2012.
- Redshirt freshman K Wyatt Bryan hit a career-most two field goals, going 2-for-2 (26, 37).
- Junior LB Kevin Davis led the Rams' defense with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss (previous high: 8 vs. Fresno State, Oct. 6, 2012). He has 3.0 TFL this season.
The Rams will look to bounce back next week, as they take on in-state rival Colorado in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. Kickoff is slated for Saturday at 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
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