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Colorado State fails to capitalize on early lead, falls to Wyoming in 114th edition of Border War

Justin Michael Avatar
November 13, 2022

Pain. 

For the sixth time in the last seven years, Wyoming will return to Laramie with the Bronze Boot. The Cowboys defeated the Rams 14-13 at Canvas Stadium Saturday night in a game that will sting for the local supporters for quite some time. 

The Rams had their chances and even led by double digits after jumping out to a 10-0 first-half lead. Unfortunately for a young Rams team that played extremely hard, a lot of the same struggles that have troubled them all season long ended up costing them big-time on Saturday night.

Here’s how it all went down.

Rams failed to capitalize on hot start 

The Rams drew blood first in this one. After the CSU defense forced a three-and-out on the opening series of the night, Tory Horton was able to give the Rams an early spark by returning the first punt of the night 72 yards to the house. The punt return for a touchdown was the first this century by CSU in a Border War. More importantly though, much like Marshaun Cameron’s pick-six in the 2020 win, it was a big boost of momentum for the Green & Gold right out of the gate. 

After holding the Pokes to just three plays and a punt on their opening series, the Ram defense allowed one first down on the ensuing possession before Henry Blackburn picked off Andrew Peasley to get the ball back for CSU. 

Had the Rams been able to respond with a scoring drive themselves, they might have been able to essentially bury their rivals before the game had even really gotten going. Unfortunately though, CSU also went three-and-out on their opening possession. 

In total there were two scoring drives in the first half, one by each side. CSU mounted a 14-play, 35-yard drive that ate up 7:32 of game time and ultimately ended with a 40-yard field goal from Michael Boyle. Conversely, the Cowboys put together a 12-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard rushing touchdown by Michael Clemons. 

It felt like CSU should have been up at least multiple scores with the way that they dominated the vast majority of the first 30 minutes of action. Outside of a late scoring drive from Wyoming, their other five drives yielded four three-and-outs and a turnover. Really, the Rams should have gone up three scores following a six-play, 66-yard drive that got CSU to the Red Zone, and instead Clay Millen forced a ball into coverage on first down that resulted in an interception. To the visitor’s credit though, they stayed composed, hung around and found a way to put some points on the board after getting worked for most of the first two quarters. 

Red Zone issues bite CSU once again

Following a fairly productive Wyoming drive that fortunately failed and ended with a missed field goal attempt, the Rams had a crucial opportunity to re-extend the lead to double-digits with a Red Zone touchdown. However, just like they have all year long, the Rams stalled in the Red Zone and had to settle for a 25-yard field goal to go up 13-6. 

It looked like the Rams would get away with it after the defense responded and held Wyoming to a three-and-out. But it turns out that CSU is just not that lucky, and after the defense did their job to get off the field, a muffed punt by Horton gave the visitors the football at CSU’s 33-yard line. Two plays later the Cowboys had the lead after WR Alex Brown hauled in a 33-yard touchdown catch — just his third reception of the year — but by far the biggest one. 

In 21 trips to the Red Zone this season, the Rams have produced just four total touchdowns. The Rams at least produced points on two of their three trips down there, which was more than they could say against San Jose State a week ago. What’s just really frustrating if you’re a CSU supporter is that for arguably the third time in conference play, the Green & Gold came up short due to their inability to capitalize with six points while in plus territory. 

After another challenging loss in a rivalry game, the Rams will have to lick their wounds quickly and turn their attention to a tough matchup with Air Force. We’ll see what they’ve got left in the tank after losing a true heartbreaker this weekend.

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