Homecoming? Fans couldn't wait to go home, Saturday evening.
Colorado State had the stage set. They hosted the San Jose State Spartans, with a chance to not only win their first Mountain West Conference game of the season, but to also give their over 26,000 fans something to smile about.
Instead, the Rams collapsed in the second half to lose 34-27.
They started the game strong, taking the 7-3 lead on a Garrett Grayson to Crockett Gillmore touchdown pass, and then later in the second quarter, Grayson connected with Kivon Cartwright for two more scores.
If only the game was over there.
Instead, the Rams came out of the locker room completely flat, giving up 17 points in the second half while only scoring three of their own.
CSU gave up three plays of 62 yards or more, allowing receivers to get behind defensive backs yet again. And when the Rams were in position to make a play, they tried to lunge at SJSU ball-carriers, coming up with nothing but air or bouncing off opponents due to a lack of wrapping up.
In the end, San Jose State racked up 608 yards of total offense as quarterback David Fales lit the defensive backfield up for 431 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Offensively, the run game was nowhere near as effective as it has been this season and Rams receivers simply couldn't catch the important passes. On one – possibly the turning point of the game – Grayson threw it to Cartwright a bit high but catchable, the ball bounced off his fingertips and into a waiting Spartan's hands. That interception set up San Jose State's go-ahead field goal and deflated the CSU offense.
They had another chance to tie the game and failed again. Grayson threw the ball up for grabs to Thomas Coffman down the middle of the field and Bene Benwikere attacked the ball to pick it off and seal the deal. And on the final drive, Grayson hit true freshman Rashard Higgins just as he came out of the break, but Higgins turned to look upfield before securing the catch.
When Grayson was asked what the most frustrating part of the loss was, he responded, “The fact that we didn't finish in the fourth quarter. Coach Mac talks about it all the time; that is what you have to do. You can start as fast as you want but if you don't finish, things like that will happen. We didn't come out and finish like we all want.”
Following the loss, head coach Jim McElwain was clearly upset. “It is very disappointing. I'm not going to mince any words,” McElwain explained. “That was a game we had an opportunity to win and didn't win it. Give them all the credit, they made all the plays when they needed to. It was a fantastic crowd out there; I just feel sick for the Homecoming crowd that came out to support these guys. We didn't send them home with a win.”
With the loss, Colorado State falls to 2-4 (0-1 MWC) on the season. They look to bounce back next week in the Border War against rival Wyoming (4-2, 2-0 MWC) on the road.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. Follow Rich on Twitter (@RichKurtzman) for all your CSU Rams news and opinion.