Sept. 28, 2013
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- With 1,088 yards of total offense and 101 points combined, Colorado State and UTEP put on a show for the fans at Hughes Stadium on Saturday, with the Rams (2-3, 0-0 MW) prevailing over the Miners 59-42 to notch their fifth consecutive home win.
The 59 points were the most scored by the Rams since Oct. 4, 1997 when Colorado State defeated Hawaii 63-0 at Hughes Stadium, and tie for the ninth-most in a game by a Rams team all-time. Colorado State built a 28-7 halftime lead, only to see UTEP tie the score at 28 in the third quarter, before senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett shifted the momentum with back-to-back quarterback sacks--the second resulting in a safety--to spur a 24-point Rams outburst.
"I think our guys came out and gave a lot of people something to be proud of today," Head Coach Jim McElwain said. "I was really happy with the way they went out and attacked it, and we got off to a fast start. I thought we showed up and we put some points on the board, which is good to see."
On a historic day for Colorado State, which was wearing its orange jerseys to celebrate its Aggie heritage, many Ram players posted career-best numbers. Junior quarterback Garrett Grayson had another strong showing, completing 17 of his 28 passes for a career-high 307 yards and three touchdowns. It was the first time in Grayson's career that he has tossed at least three touchdowns in a game.
Grayson's favorite receiver on the day was true freshman Rashard Higgins. Higgins hauled in a team-high six receptions and posted career highs with 156 yards receiving and two touchdowns. It is the highest yardage total by a Colorado State freshman in school history.
While the Rams efficiently moved the ball through the air, the team did not lack balance, amassing 250 yards on the ground. Sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs paced Colorado State with a career-best 147 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries.
"I thought Kapri came in there and gave us some juice on some runs and gave us some energy," McElwain said. "I am happy that he can finish runs and that he has shown that; it's great to see."
The Rams got off to a quick start, marching 65 yards in only 1:41 and five plays to take a 7-0 lead as Grayson found junior tight end Kivon Cartwright open in the flat for a 22-yard touchdown.
The quick score was only a sign of what was to come.
On their own opening drive, the Miners matched Colorado State's touchdown with an impressive scoring drive of their own. UTEP used 14 plays and took 6:49 off the clock to move 75 yards and capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jameill Showers to freshman running back Darrin Laufasa. Showers finished the game with 365 yards passing and five touchdowns.
The Rams took control from there in the first half with 21 unanswered points. Grayson found Higgins on a 6-yard slant for a touchdown with 1:43 left in the first quarter and then Bibbs capped off a 71-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to give CSU a 21-7 lead.
With 4:34 left in the first half and CSU holding a 21-7 lead, the Rams faced a fourth down and appeared to line up for a 51-yard field goal. Colorado State quickly shifted its formation and direct-snapped the ball to sophomore wide receiver Joe Hansley. After Hansley rolled right, he found Cartwright open on a wheel route across the field for a 34-yard touchdown as the Rams went into intermission leading 28-7.
The Miners came out of the halftime break rejuvenated as they scored on the very first play from scrimmage to open up the third quarter when Showers found junior wide receiver Jordan Leslie for a 75-yard touchdown.
Just two minutes later Showers again found Leslie for a touchdown, this time from 48 yards out, as UTEP forced a fumble on CSU's previous drive to get the ball back.
After UTEP got another stop, the Miners found the end zone once more to tie things up at 28-28 when Showers capped off a seven-play 68-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. UTEP had scored 21 points in 6:59 to tie the game.
Facing some adversity in the second half, Colorado State responded with some stellar play of its own. With things still tied at 28 and UTEP in possession, senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett took it upon himself to get the momentum back in the Rams' favor.
After a sack and forced fumble that UTEP recovered, Barrett came off the right edge and stripped Showers again from behind. The ball trickled back into the end zone and was recovered by UTEP for a safety to give CSU a 30-28 lead with 4:51 left in the third quarter. The safety started a 24-0 run for Colorado State over the next 13:01, all triggered by Barrett's dominant play.
"We needed someone to step up and make a play," Barrett said. "I'm the leader of this defense and I love to lead by example, so I just went out there and tried to get the whole team going."
Getting the ball back after the safety, the Rams didn't need long to find the end zone. On the third play of the drive, Grayson found Higgins open around the first-down marker. Higgins then broke a tackle and ran an additional 44 yards for a 56-yard touchdown to give CSU some breathing room.
Four minutes later, the Rams were once again on the board as Kapri Bibbs found the end zone from 37 yards out to cap off a five-play 60-yard drive. With 8:10 left in the game, Grayson rushed in for a 1-yard touchdown to give CSU its biggest lead of the day at 52-28.
Bibbs added the last score of the day for the Rams with a 34-yard touchdown run with 3:08 left in the game to help seal the 59-42 win for Colorado State.
"Like I have said, I like this football team," McElwain said. "Part of it is because they are learning about how to be accountable; they are learning how to care of each other. I like these guys. We are going to have a great off-week and hopefully get a lot of guys back healthy."
The Rams now head into their bye week before returning to the field with a home game against Mountain West foe San Jose State on Oct. 12. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. MT. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
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