Fort Collins – The long wait is finally over. The bronze shoe belongs to the state of Colorado.
CSU defeated Wyoming, 34-24, Thursday night at Canvas Stadium to claim their first victory in the Border War since 2015. Ramez players rushed to the visiting side-match post-match to reclaim the iconic Competition Cup. Their outpouring of emotion punctuated a remarkable victory for CSU coach Steve Adazio in his second match leading the show.
“The shoe belongs to Fort Collins,” said Trey McBride at CSU. “Get out there and get that shoe – carry it, kiss it, love it – it’s exciting to get it back.”
Ramez’s dominant defense in the first quarter laid the foundation.
Wyoming midfielder Levi Williams, in his second throw of the night, was intercepted by CSU defensive back Marshawn Cameron – who ran 30 yards back for the touchdown. On the Cowboys’ next possession, in the third and long showdown, Cameron Williams sacked and football was recovered by defensive intervention by Manny Jones. The Ram’s crime is instantly capitalized through 29 yards of hunting and running to the finish zone of McBride.
CSU, after a long lost field goal, led 14-0 after the first quarter.
“We’ve been talking about transforming all week,” said Cameron. “The first thing on my mind is to get the ball back. I saw the opportunity and took advantage of it.”
The Rams made a change at the start of the middle on Thursday as senior Patrick O’Brien took the nod to Todd Sentio’s first-year graduate transfer, which began with Rams’ previous loss in Fresno. O’Brien, a previous move to Nebraska, touts his big arm reputation.
Blessings against cowboys. O’Brien completed 18 passes from 26 at 255 yards, two touchdowns and no interception.
“Patrick competed hard and did a good job,” said Adazio. “He managed the game very well and took some big throws. He had a good balance.”
The CSU air attack also benefited greatly from the return of mass recipient Dante Wright, a freshman last season, who missed the loss of Fresno State due to the quarantine protocol. On Thursday, Wright rode at 10 receptions for the 146 yards.
“Dante’s vertical speed was a huge factor in the game,” said Adazio.
The CSU lead grew to 17-0 in the second quarter with a field goal of chips from kicking Robert Less.
Suddenly, the Wyoming attack awoke from its slumber with successive engines that capped off a fast landing. The Rams responded when O’Brien slipped into the finish area midway through the second quarter to maintain the possession advantage twice at the end of the first half, 24-14.
CSU’s defense bent, but not broken in the third quarter as Wyoming reached the Rams 5-yard line after a 6-minute drive. However, the Cowboys were crammed into third and settled on a field goal. Then CSU’s crime acted to widen the gap.
O’Brien threw a 38-yard hit to McBride over midfield – a second touchdown for the Grand Tight end – to take a 31-17 lead. Wyoming added a drop midway in the fourth quarter with the result of Williams’ rush, but it was very little, and it was too late. O’Brien made several large throws along the stretch to drain the watch and called Liss with a field goal from 48 yards to secure Ramez’s victory.
“It’s the best energy I’ve felt since being here,” O’Brien said of the post-match locker room celebration. “The shoe from Fort Collins has been gone for a long time. It’s really special to me.”
The CSU’s reputation for faltering in competitive games is diminishing, which is a significant reason for coach Mike Bobo 2019’s dismissal, temporarily under Adazio. The Rams cut their losing streak in 12 games against CU, Air Force and Wyoming.
“We overcame our opponent and defeated them with physical force,” said Adazio. “Our team showed a tremendous amount of energy, toughness and courage. … We are still a new program. We are still developing. I would like to think that we will continue to improve.”
On Thursday, the stands at Canvas Stadium were empty to comply with Larimer County’s health guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, the Border War attracted 32,125 people to Fort Collins.
CSU (1-1) travels to play Boise State next Thursday. Wyoming (1-2) will host the Air Force on November 14th.