Gartrell Johnson helped set up Ben DeLine's game-winning field goal with a key third-down conversion
Sept. 6, 2008
By Paul Baker
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- In a game of firsts, Head Coach Steve Fairchild became the first head coach since Earle Bruce in 1989 to win his home debut, defeating Sacramento State 23-20 on a field goal by true freshman Ben DeLine as time expired.
Despite only being a freshman, DeLine shrugged off the pressure and kicked field goals of 20, 23 and 36 yards in the final quarter to help push the Rams to victory.
"The game-winning kick was a lot of fun," DeLine said in the locker room after the game. "I was a lot more anxious to kick that kick than the one to tie the game."
After DeLine's first kick of the fourth quarter to make the score 17-13, Sacramento State marched the length of the field in only five plays to take the lead back from the Rams. Hornets quarterback Jason Smith, who was 15-of-25 for 205 yards in the game, connected with junior wideout Tony Washington on a 40-yard pass for one of his two touchdowns on the day.
When the Rams got the ball back, they used their balanced offensive attack to control the clock and move down the field and tie the game. Senior quarterback Billy Farris, who had a career day, threw for 321 yards on 21-of-31 passing, with one TD and one interception.
On that game-tying drive, he completed passes to senior tight end Kory Sperry and junior wideout Rashaun Greer, while senior running backs Kyle Bell and Gartrell Johnson controlled the middle of the field. Johnson finished the game with 73 yards on 20 carries to go with one touchdown.
Greer's nine catches on the afternoon were the most by a CSU player since Johnny Walker had 10 in a victory over CU in 2006. "I had a big game, but given the opportunity, any of our receivers could have a big game," said Greer, who had 152 yards receiving. "We just need to make plays when given the opportunity."
The turning point in the game came when the Rams' senior safety Mike Pagnotta recovered a fumble forced by defensive tackle James Morehead on the Hornets' 25-yard line to give the ball back to the offense with only 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the game.
"You've got to make plays," Fairchild said following the game. "Sometimes you sit around and wait for it to come to you, but in the game of football you got to make something happen."
The Rams move to 1-1 on the season and will now look forward to having next week off and then preparing for a home date with Houston on Sept. 20.
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