Air Force Tops CSU Rams 45-21
The CSU Rams (1-5, 3-8) Fell to Mountain West rival Air Force (3-4, 7-5) this evening 45-21 in Fort Collins. It was the 50th meeting between the two teams, with the Ram-Falcon Trophy on the line. It was the seventh straight loss for the Rams, who finish their season this Saturday hosting the University of Wyoming (4-2, 7-4).
200 club: RB Chris Nwoke became the first player in CSU history with multiple 200-yard rushing efforts in the same season. He joins a group of four CSU players with multiple 200-yard rushing games in a career: Kevin McDougal (1997 and ’99), Lawrence McCutcheon (1969, ’70) and Steve Bartalo (1983, ’85). The three previous players were drafted by NFL teams.
Third-best: Nwoke’s 269-yard effort represented the third-best rushing total ever by a CSU player, topped only by Tony Alford’s 310 yards at Utah (Oct. 28, 1989) and Gartrell Johnson’s 285 in the New Mexico Bowl vs. Fresno State (Dec. 20, 2008).
No. 1 at stadium: Chris Nwoke’s 269 yards were the most ever by any player in 227 all-time games at Hughes Stadium, which opened in 1968. He broke the record held by Air Force’s Chad Hall, who had 256 in a Falcons win on Oct. 13, 2007. Among CSU players, he now owns the top two efforts ever at the facility, including his 232 yards vs. San Diego State (Nov. 12).
30 front: CSU opened in a 3-4 defense. The Rams started Nuku Latu at nose tackle, with defensive ends John Froland and C.J. James, in front of inside linebackers Max Morgan and Shaquil Barrett, and outside linebackers James Skelton and Mychal Sisson. Sisson made his first start since breaking his ankle Sept. 10 vs. Northern Colorado.
First two drives: CSU forced and recovered a fumble to end the first Air Force drive, then pitched a three-and-out, to keep the Rams in the game.
Opening drive: CSU scored on its opening drive for the first time since Sept. 10, when CSU also scored a touchdown, vs. Northern Colorado. CSU was 3-for-3 on third down on that drive.
In the second quarter: Air Force in the second quarter outscored CSU 31-0 and outgained the Rams 267-82.
First lead against Air Force in three years: Until Byron Steele’s first-quarter touchdown reception, the Rams had not led the Falcons since Nov. 8, 2008, when Gartrell Johnson also capped an opening drive with a touchdown to give CSU a 7-0 lead at Falcon Stadium. Air Force went on to win, 38-17.
Air Force series: CSU and Air Force met for the 50th renewal of their series, which began in 1957. They’ve met every season since 1978, Steve Fairchild’s first season as the Rams’ starting quarterback. Air Force has won six straight.
First-time starters: Including LB Max Morgan, who made his first career start, 22 players have made their first Division I starts this season: G Jordan Gragert, FB Joe Brown, WR Marquise Law, TE Crockett Gillmore, DT John Froland, LB Mike Orakpo, S Austin Gray, DE Nordly Capi, TE Blake Jones, FB Austin Gillmore, LB Shaquil Barrett, NT Te’Jay Brown, T Ty Sambrailo, WR Lee Clubb, DT Curtis Wilson, FB Jake Levin, T Mason Hathaway, S Drew Reilly, WR Thomas Coffman, WR Charles Lovett, QB Garrett Grayson and LB Max Morgan.
First-time starter at higher level: Caleb Hanie, the CSU quarterback from 2004-07, will make his first NFL start Sunday in place of an injured Jay Cutler, when the Bears travel to meet the Oakland Raiders Sunday. Hanie, who valiantly rallied the Bears in last season’s NFC Championship game and nearly secured a Super Bowl berth, would become the first CSU QB to start an NFL game since Moses Moreno opened under center for San Diego on Nov. 12, 2000, in a 17-7 loss vs. Miami. Moreno that season shared time at quarterback with Ryan Leaf and Jim Harbaugh, the former Stanford head coach who currently has the 49ers sitting at 9-1. Hanie would become the third quarterback from Colorado State to start an NFL game, along with first-round draft selection Kelly Stouffer:
- Moreno, three games (one with Chicago Bears in 1998, two with San Diego Chargers in 2000).
- Kelly Stouffer, 16 games with Seattle Seahawks from 1988-92.
Injury update: CSU injuries have combined to prevent 67 starts this season. And among 15 key contributors, health ailments have claimed 87 combined games.
Turnover trouble: The Rams during their seven-game losing streak are minus-seven in the giveaway-takeaway category.