Nov. 30, 2013
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- After disposing of the Air Force Falcons 58-13 on Senior Day on Saturday afternoon at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, the Colorado State Rams (7-6, 5-3 MW) became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2008.
"I'm just really proud of our guys," Head Coach Jim McElwain said. "To see the Ram-Falcon Trophy back in Fort Collins is something our fans and players should be excited about."
The win gives CSU its best regular season record since posting a 7-5 ledger in 2003, and its best Mountain West record (5-3) since 2005. It also marked the first time in eight years that CSU has claimed the Ram-Falcon Trophy, earning its first win over Air Force since 2005.
Junior quarterback Garrett Grayson had a day to remember against the rival Falcons, adding to an already incredible junior campaign. Grayson completed 26 of his 34 passes for 395 yards--two short of his career high--to break CSU's all-time single-season passing record. He now stands at 3,327 yards for the season, topping the previous record of 3,319 yards by Terry Nugent in 1983. Grayson added three touchdowns to move to third on CSU's single-season list with 21, while also adding a 22-yard touchdown run.
"It's a huge honor, and it really goes to the guys up front," Grayson said of his record-breaking performance this year. "When they give you the time, like they've given me all season, it really makes my job a lot easier; and then it goes to receivers who are making the plays for me."
The Rams were just as efficient on the ground as sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs continued his record-breaking pace. Bibbs rushed the ball for 79 yards, giving him 1,572 yards for the year, and found the end zone three times, including scores on each of the first two possessions to give CSU a 13-0 lead with 7:06 left in the first quarter.
With three rushing touchdowns on the day Bibbs reclaimed the national lead with 28 for the season, and his three today made him the first player in NCAA FBS history to rush for three or more touchdowns in seven different games in one season. He did so in five consecutive games from Oct. 19-Nov. 16.
On the day, the Rams piled up 629 yards of offense--the fourth-highest total in school history--while only conceding 279 yards to the Falcons. Today's total gave the Rams a new school records for total yards in a season, now with 5,996 to break the old mark of 5,706 set in 2003, and marked the third time this season CSU has eclipsed 600 yards of offense in a game. The Rams in 2013 have topped the 500-yard mark seven times and have posted three of the top five single-game yardage totals in school history this season after having just six 600-yard games in school history prior to this year.
Additionally, this is the first year in school history that Colorado State has had a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,500-yard rusher in the same season.
Colorado State added to its total with 12:52 left in the second quarter when Grayson capped off a quick five-play 45-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Rashard Higgins to give CSU a 20-0 lead. Higgins found the end zone once again with a 19-yard reception to give the Rams a 27-0 lead with 1:51 left in the half, and finished the game with seven receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
On the year, Higgins has already set a Colorado State freshman-record with 64 receptions and now ranks sixth on CSU's overall single-season receptions list.
As Air Force's offense continued to sputter due to terrific defensive play from the Rams, CSU's offense was not done putting points on the board in the first half.
After getting the ball back with under a minute left in the half, Grayson drove Colorado State down the field to set up a long field-goal attempt. Sophomore kicker Jared Roberts, CSU's career leader in field goal percentage, connected on a career-best 54-yard field goal as time expired to send the Rams into the locker room up 30-0 at halftime. It was the sixth-longest field goal in CSU history and longest since C.W. Hurst connected on a 54-yarder vs. New Mexico State on Oct. 2, 1999.
The brief intermission made no difference for Colorado State, as the team picked up right where it had left off. After forcing a punt on the Falcons' first possession of the half, the Rams took over with the ball on their own 5-yard line. Using just 4:21 off the clock, CSU mounted its lengthiest drive of the season in yardage, going 95 yards in 10 plays and finishing the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run from Grayson with 7:46 left in the third quarter.
Just 23 seconds later, after CSU's defense forced a fumble, Bibbs found the end zone from 4 yards out for his third touchdown of the day to push his season total to 28 and tie the Mountain West record for total touchdowns in a season.
With 2:50 left in the third quarter, the Rams once again found the end zone. This time, Grayson tallied his third touchdown pass of the game when he found freshman wide receiver Jordon Vaden open on a deep post route for a 49-yard strike to give the Rams a 51-0 lead over the Falcons.
Colorado State found the end zone for a final time with 9:34 left in the game to give the team a 58-0 lead over its rival to the south. The Rams chewed up 6:24 off the clock and ran the ball 13 consecutive times before senior running back Chris Nwoke capped off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run. Playing in his last game at Hughes Stadium, Nwoke finished the game 49 yards on the ground and one touchdown.
While Colorado State held Air Force scoreless for the first 54 minutes, finishing with a shutout proved to be a tough task going against a Falcons program that hadn't been held scoreless since 1992.
Air Force got on the board for the first time with a 13-yard rushing touchdown from Colton Huntsman with 5:02 left in the game, and added another score, an 11-yard rush from Karson Roberts, with 2:40 left to bring the final score to 58-13.
At the helm of Colorado State's stingy defense, which held its opponent to just 13 points for the second consecutive game, was junior linebacker Max Morgan. Morgan finished the game with 10 tackles to bring his season total to 129 tackles. The 129 tackles are the most by a Colorado State player since Willie Taylor registered 146 tackles in 1996.
"I can't say enough about how our defense played," McElwain said. "That was a pretty dominating performance."
After having game captains for the first 12 games this season, the players voted this week on season captain, who would serve as captains for today's game. They are senior center Weston Richburg (who started his school-record 49th game in a row today), junior linebacker Max Morgan, senior cornerback Shaq Bell and senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett.
The Rams will now await a possible invitation to a bowl game, which will be announced on Dec. 8.
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