Donning their orange jerseys and special helmets in honor of the program's Aggie heritage, the Colorado State Rams played like they did when they were called the Aggies.
The Rams (2-6, 1-3 MW) defeated the Hawai'i Warriors (1-6, 0-4 MW) 42-27 on a chilly Saturday night at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.
Defense proved to be the key to the Rams' success, forcing a season-best five turnovers. Hawai'i quarterback, Sean Schroeder, never looked comfortable as he was constantly harassed by the Rams' defensive line.
"I was really proud of our defense," Head Coach Jim McElwain said. "I thought they really picked it up and dominated the game."
The Rams, led by senior defensive end Lanston Tanyi, sacked Schroeder a total of four times. Tanyi got to the quarterback 2.5 times and also led the Rams with 13 tackles, including three for loss.
The constant pressure up front, allowed the CSU secondary to play aggressively and capitalize on mistakes from Schroeder.
With the Rams leading 28-27 in the 3rd quarter, redshirt-freshman DeAndre Elliot intercepted a pass and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown, the first of his career. The defense would strike once again, this time with true freshman Jasen Oden intercepting a pass and returning it 40 yards for a touchdown. The score gave Colorado State a 42-27 lead with 1:14 left in the game, sealing the win for the Rams.
Offensively, Colorado State found enough balance to strike early and often against the Warriors defense. Chris Nwoke led a strong rushing game that netted 176 yards on the ground for the Rams. Nwoke finished the game with 115 yards rushing and a touchdown on just 19 carries. The 115 yards marked the first time this season that CSU had a 100-yard rusher. Nwoke also showed his versatility out of the backfield, connecting with Conner Smith for a 27-yard touchdown reception to tie the game, 7-7, with 8:29 left in the first quarter.
Trailing 14-7 to begin the second quarter, Colorado State ratcheted up its offense. After Nwoke scored on a 7-yard touchdown run, the Rams were right back in the end zone 1:19 later. The score was set up by a 76-yard punt return from Joe Hansley, the longest by a Ram since Dallas Davis had one of 77 yards in 1999.
Colorado State capitalized on the very next play with a 5-yard touchdown run by senior linebacker James Skelton, who took the direct snap on the play. The touchdown was the first of Skelton's career.
Tommey Morris continued the scoring for the Rams midway through the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run to extend CSU's lead to 28-14, a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
"I thought we played pretty good offensive football in the first half," McElwain said. "I am excited for our guys. They got this win."
The 28 first-half points are the most scored by the Rams in one half since scoring 28 vs. Northern Colorado last year, when the Rams were also wearing their orange jerseys.
Colorado State, which entered the game in the top 10 in the nation in redzone scoring, scored a touchdown on all three of their trips inside the 20.