CSU scores three late touch­downs to close gap on rout

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike Bro­hard

boise, idaho» Colorado State had seen this be­fore.

An of­fense march­ing up and down the field with seem­ingly lit­tle re­sis­tance be­ing ap­plied, and it was fun the first time.

Be­cause it was them, and they were do­ing it to San Diego State to end the reg­u­lar sea­son, a 63-31 vic­tory that had the Rams flying high head­ing into bowl sea­son.

Thurs­day night’s Fa­mous Idaho Potato Bowl was a re­peat per­for­mance, only it was in re­verse and it wasn’t nearly as pleas­ant.

Af­ter 15 min­utes of play, Colorado State (7-6) and Idaho (9-4) had com­bined for two first downs, and the game was at a stand­still as the foot­ing on the blue turf of Boise State’s field looked like it re­ally was ice.

Colorado State cracked it first, and promptly fell in. Idaho re­sponded, then pro­ceeded to skate through the Rams’ de­fense for a record-set­ting 61-50 vic­tory, a de­cep­tive fi­nal score as CSU scored three late touch­downs af­ter fall­ing be­hind 61-28 mid­way through the fourth quar­ter.

Idaho is now un­de­feated in bowl games (3-0), all played in Boise. Colorado State dropped its third straight bowl game and still has not won on the blue field at Al­bert­sons Sta­dium.

“We tried some dif­fer­ent things this year in prepa­ra­tion,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo told The As­so­ci­ated Press af­ter the game. “You want to fin­ish up strong. That onus falls on me. That’s the po­si­tion I’m in

as the head coach.”

Los­ing to the peren­ni­ally tough Bron­cos has been un­der­stand­able. Get­ting popped by a team the Rams were fa­vored to beat by bet­ter than two touch­downs and is one more sea­son away from drop­ping to the FCS level left the Rams far short of the fin­ish to the sea­son they craved.

Once Idaho found a groove, it stayed there and upped the ante in scor­ing touch­downs on five straight drives and nine out of 10 pos­ses­sions to beat a team with a win­ning record for the first time this sea­son, scor­ing the most points in the 20-year his­tory of the bowl game.

Van­dals quar­ter­back Matt Line­han, who started just 1-of-6 in the game, start­ing find­ing open re­ceivers and run­ning back Isa­iah Saun­ders was hit­ting seams in the heart of the CSU front seven.

It was an on­slaught that led to those five con­sec­u­tive touch­down drives for Idaho, with Saun­ders rush­ing for two scores and Line­han throw­ing for two and run­ning for an­other.

Even when CSU’s de­fense fi­nally picked up a stop, it didn’t work out as the Idaho punt was muffed by Robert Ruiz, set­ting up the Van­dals on the CSU 14. A few plays later, Line­han threw his third touch­down pass of the game, his sec­ond to Ja­cob San­non.

Line­han fin­ished 21-of-31 pass­ing for 381 yards and four touch­downs in the game to earn MVP hon­ors. Deon Wat­son caught five of those for 140 yards, in­clud­ing a 74yard scor­ing con­nec­tion, and Saun­ders did more than find the end zone, rush­ing for 147 yards and adding a third touch­down run in the fourth quar­ter.

On the sec­ond play of the sec­ond quar­ter, quar­ter­back Nick Stevens hit a wide-open Bisi John­son on a deep post route, a 52-yard score that gave the Rams the ini­tial lead.

Stevens was off tar­get and strug­gled as the Van­dals built a lead. He did gain trac­tion late when the game was out of hand, throw­ing a trio of touch­down passes to Michael Gallup (12, 60 yards and 3 yards) and again find­ing John­son deep (73 yards).

Stevens fin­ished with a ca­reer-best 445 pass­ing yards, five touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions, though most of it came with the out­come al­ready de­cided as the two teams com­bined for 56 points in the fourth quar­ter.

Idaho wide re­ceiver Al­fonso Onun­wor catches a deep pass against Colorado State de­fen­sive back Kevin Nutt dur­ing the first half Thurs­day night at the Fa­mous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise. Loren Orr, Getty Im­ages

Idaho run­ning back Aaron Duck­worth gains yardage dur­ing the sec­ond half Thurs­day night in the Fa­mous Idaho Potato Bowl against Colorado State in Boise. Otto Kitsinger, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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