<strong>FORT COLLINS, Colo.—</strong> It was “Ag Day” for the Colorado State Rams who once had the nickname Aggies when they were Colorado A&M. However, it was the current Aggies of Utah State who enjoyed Ag Day the most as USU defeated the Rams, 31-19, Saturday.
Aided by a career night from senior running back Kerwynn Williams, the Aggies won their first road game of the season and got off to the best start since the 1978 season. Williams rushed a career-high 21 times for a career-high 205 yards and two touchdowns.
“You’ve got to look at the offensive line first because they were opening up big holes for me all night, and setting it up so I could make those runs. It all started with them,” Williams said. “I think Chuckie made some good reads in the read option, which allowed me to do that. The defense had to respect him and I felt that was huge for us tonight. We’ve got to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball. It was a good win. It’s always tough to win on the road and I’m glad we got the victory tonight.”
Williams’ first score of the game came on a 26-yard scamper up the middle with just less than 10 minutes remaining in the opening quarter. USU added a Josh Thompson field goal near the end of the first quarter as the Aggies continued their streak of holding opponents scoreless during the first 15 minutes.
The Aggies continued to control the game throughout the second quarter, as Colorado State struggled to move the ball against the USU defense. Midway through the second quarter, the Aggies were in scoring position again with a first and goal at the CSU 1-yard line.
However, after three straight runs, the Aggies gained minimal yards and faced a fourth and goal situation. That’s when Matt Austin stepped up.
The senior receiver, who had been held to only two receptions in each of the past two games, hauled in a jump ball on the corner fade to put USU up 17-0 with 7:14 remaining in the first half.
Austin had a career-high tying six receptions for 75 yards and that score. Austin looked like he was going to add another TD with less than a minute remaining in the opening half, but he fumbled into the end zone well fighting for the goal line. Colorado State took over on the touchback and ran out the clock to end the half.
In the second half, CSU tried to make it interesting as they scored a pair of field goals off of two Chuckie Keeton interceptions. The sophomore QB finally looked his age as he completed 23-of-30 passes for only 178 yards, one touchdown, and the two picks. He also rushed 12 times for 38 yards.
Following the Rams’ second field goal, Williams put the momentum back on USU’s side as he erupted up the middle for a 58-yard TD with 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“It’s definitely frustrating to turn the ball over three times. We can’t do that as an offense. It puts our defense in a bad position. It gives them a short field for their offense to work with, and it’s just all bad,” Williams said. “Our defense is good. They bow up everytime they are put into a situation with their backs against the wall. Every time we turned the ball over, they didn’t score a touchdown so our defense did a good job of stopping them in that aspect and keeping the game going in our favor.”
Trailing 24-6, Colorado State finally broke through for its first touchdown when Garrett Grayson connected with Dominique Vinson on a 4-yard pass to the back of the end zone on fourth down. Following a failed 2-point conversion, USU still led, 24-12.
Sophomore running back Joe Hill made sure the Rams didn’t pull off an amazing comeback similar to last season’s 35-34 debacle in Logan. After the Aggie offense drove down the field again, Hill carried it in from 15-yards out for his fourth touchdown of the season.
“I thought the kids executed and made some big plays when they had to make plays – especially when Colorado State answered and we answered right back,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said. “I’m very proud of the kids. They played well. They’ve got a lot to do to get better, but this is big victory for this football program.”
The Rams were able to add one more score late in the game, but the Aggies easily held on for the 12 point victory. As a team, USU outgained the Rams, 440-331, though the 331 was nearly 100 more yards than the Aggies have been giving up on the season.
USU will now return home from its two-game road trip to take on UNLV for the Aggies Homecoming game on Saturday, Sept. 29. That game is scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m.
<em>Photos by Curtis Ripplinger</em>