SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Looking for their first win in conference play, the Colorado State Rams (1-6, 0-3 MW) fell to the San Diego State Aztecs (4-3, 2-1 MW) 38-14.
The Aztecs elected to receive the ball to begin the game, hoping that their electrifying offense would put pressure on the Rams early on. The offense did just that. Capped off by a 51-yard touchdown run by Adam Muema, San Diego State marched down the field in just 1:47 to give them an early 7-0 lead over the Rams.
Colorado State would look to respond on its opening drive though. Utilizing an effective ground game and some key third down conversions, the Rams moved the ball 72 yards in 15 plays for a touchdown. M.J. McPeek, making his second career start, helped keep the drive alive with third down runs of 15 yards and 13 yards. On 4th-and-goal from the two yard line, McPeek was able to find Kivon Cartwright wide open in the endzone for the touchdown.
Turnovers proved to be the difference in the game, with the Rams turning the ball over three times leading to 21 points for the Aztecs. With 5:21 left in the second quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback, Conner Smith, replaced an injured McPeek in the game. It was Smith's first collegiate action, but the freshman looked as composed as a four-year starter, completing his first 11 pass attempts to give the Rams some momentum on offense.
Trailing 17-7, Colorado State started with the ball looking to close the gap. Marquise Law fumbled a completed pass from Smith which was recovered by San Diego State on the CSU 14 yard line. Two plays later, dual-threat quarterback Ryan Katz ran the ball in from 11 yards out to extend the SDSU lead to 17.
Colorado State was not able to gain the momentum back that it had lost with the fumble and failed to chip away at the score. While the Rams were able to move the ball down the field, finishing the game with 335 yards, they were not able to capitalize, twice turning the ball over on downs.
After an interception by Smith, his first incompletion of the game, the Aztecs again scored quickly. In just two plays, SDSU moved the ball 33 yards finishing the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Katz to Brice Butler. It was Katz's third touchdown of the game -- two through the air and one on the ground -- and extended the lead to 31-7 with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
The Aztecs would add on to that lead with a 1-yard touchdown by Muema at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Muema finished the game with 105 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries to lead the SDSU offensive attack.
On the ensuing kickoff, Thomas Coffman returned the ball 73 yards down the left sideline to the SDSU 27-yard line, giving the Rams their best field position of the day. Four plays later, Colorado State would capitalize with a one-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Tommey Morris, the first of his career.
Smith finished the game 18-22 for 165 yards and one interception, completing numerous quick passes in rhythm. Law finished the game with 63 yards on a career-high six receptions, making him Smith's favorite target on the night.
Freshman linebacker Cory James made history on the night with 1.5 sacks, putting his season total at 6.5. The 6.5 sacks are the most ever by a Colorado State freshman, passing DeVaughn Hawkins's mark of five sacks in 1994. McPeek returned from his left shoulder injury for one play at the end of the first half, and was on the sideline in full uniform for the second half.