Football recap: Rams hold on to beat Buffs 22-17

Sept. 1, 2012

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By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations

DENVER, Colo. - In his first game as head coach at CSU, Jim McElwain did not take long to solidify his impact on the program.

Colorado State held off a late Colorado charge to claim a 22-17 victory in front of a crowd of 58,607 on Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

With the victory, McElwain became the first head coach to win his CSU debut since Jerry Wampfler in 1970, and the first coach in the program's history to win his debut against the rival Buffaloes. Just four head coaches in CSU history had been victorious in their first game before today.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of our guys, the way we hung in there," McElwain said. "My hat is off to the guys we played, they played their tails off (too). That's what a rivalry should be."

In his first career start vs. CU--and fourth overall--Garrett Grayson looked composed completing 67 percent of his passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Dominique Vinson. That score, just before halftime, brought the Rams within five points, at 14-9.

"He's always poised," said center Weston Richburg of Grayson. "That guy isn't going to show any emotion or anything, he's a cool customer in the huddle."

CSU's young players stepped up in the rivalry game as freshman linebacker Cory James recorded three sacks in his first career game. Redshirt-freshman running back Donnell Alexander also made a big impact on the game, leading the Rams in rushing with 66 yards on eight carries, including a 37-yard rush down the left sideline with 5:06 left in the game. The Rams capitalized on the big play with a 32-yard field goal by Jared Roberts to extend the lead to 22-17.

Roberts was put on scholarship on Aug. 23 and quickly rewarded his coaches for the faith they showed in him. Roberts made all three of his field goals, including kicks of 47 and 48 yards, to play a significant role in the outcome.

Momentum changed drastically in CSU's favor midway through the third quarter. With the Rams clinging to a 16-14 lead, CU lined up to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Max Morgan plugged the hole and was able to bring down running back Tony Jones for no gain. CSU never looked back from that point.

"It's a great feeling," said junior linebacker Shaquil Barrett. "Just to come out there and prove to them that it's a bold new era and we're going in a different direction, and to get that win; it just feels good."