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Brian Hill. Credit: Trib.com

With everything on the line, Colorado State came out came out hot and then laid an egg against their rival, the Wyoming Cowboys, losing 38-17.

It was the 107th (or 108th, if you’re from north of the border) Border War, the final matchup of the two, hated rivals inside Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium – a sellout, to boot, for the Bronze Boot – and the Rams couldn’t put together enough positive plays to win a game they needed for many reasons.

This was by far the most student fans we’ve seen all year at Hughes and overall, it was the first sellout of the season. In fact, there were so many tickets sold, some Ram fans (and Cowpokes, too) had to stand around the fence on the north and south end zones. 33,500 fans in total, 1,000 more than capacity, the 11th largest crowd in Hughes history. It was also CSU’s first Mountain West game of the year and an opportunity to start the conference slate off with a win. Nope.

Everything started so smoothly for the Rams, too, until they fell flat on their faces. Over and again.

To start the game, Wyoming put a field goal on the board and CSU answered with two seemingly easy touchdowns to take the 14-3 lead. Detrich Clark ran and was tackled as he crossed the goal line and then the offense faked an end-around as Nolan Peralta was wide open in the end zone.

Then, it all went south.

Brian Hill, the Cowboys’ stellar running back, was held to only six yards through the first quarter. Then, on three straight plays, he gained 70 yards – becoming Wyoming’s career leader in rushing yards – setting up backup Shaun Wick with a touchdown. Then, CSU freshman running back Marvin Kinsey fumbled the ball which was turned into a touchdown on the very next play, a flea-flicker. And after an exchange of punts, Collin Hill threw a horrendous pick-six to Chase Appleby: 24-14 Wyoming on 21-straight points.

The only saving grace of the second quarter was Wyatt Bryan’s 36-yard field goal at the whistle, 24-17 at the half.

Then, the tail lights from CSU’s student fans started lighting up the parking lot like a Christmas tree in October, but Brian Hill of Wyoming would play the Grinch.

In the second half, up seven points, Wyoming ran the ball relentlessly with Hill – and Wick – just taking it to the Rams defense. CSU couldn’t stop the Pokes and Wyoming kept riding high down Sonny’s field. Until, finally, after Wyoming bled off nearly eight minutes of clock, a fourth down run was stuffed at the line.

But, even after two explosive throws from Collin Hill, including a pass to Johnson for 42 yards down the sideline, the offense fell flat on its face at Wyoming’s 20. Needing a touchdown, they settled for a field goal attempt of 24 yards and Wyatt Bryan missed wide right.

All bad, no good for the Rams following that hot start.

Then, Mr. Grinch (Brian Hill) stole Christmas (the game) with his run up the gut, bounced outside for a 49-yard gain to the one, which he pounded in on the next play. 31-17 Wyoming with 18 minutes to play.
Even CSU’s All-American Hayden Hunt couldn’t punt: Following CSU’s three straight incompletions, Hunt booted one a mere 14 yards, easily his worst of the season.

With that superb field position, Wyoming drove 37 yards for the score, an 18-yard rushing touchdown by Allen for the 38-17 lead just before the end of the 3rd quarter.

Those tail lights looked like five Christmas trees in their bright, dazzling display in Hughes’ parking lot as the fans had seen enough. It was an embarrassing attempt at playing defense through three quarters, while the offense and special teams didn’t do much positive, either.

Colorado State lost the game 38-17 as well as a huge opportunity to win over fans, to keep them coming back to the stadium. And, on top of it all, this was a game of historical significance as the last Border War at Hughes, with Wyoming taking the 25-24 Bronze Boot lead, as well.

Brian Hill finished with 166 yards on 19 rushes, a superb 8.7 yard per carry average as Wyoming ended the game with 430 total yards.

Without a doubt, CSU has to go back to the drawing board, especially on defense in this transitional year.

And, with this sad effort, they have to hope half the fans who showed up this week do so next Saturday night against Utah State.

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