Football's strong second-half not enough
FORT COLLINS – The Northern Colorado football team out-scored Colorado State 14-5 in the second-half, but the Rams were able to score 28 in the first half for the 33-14 victory. The meeting was the first between the two teams in 25 years.
The 14 points scored by the Bears is the most against an FBS team since the team began playing at the FCS level in 2007. The 33 points by CSU is also the fewest allowed when playing "up a level."
"A loss is a loss," said Head Coach Earnest Collins Jr. "I appreciated the players coming out and playing hard the second half. I challenged them to win the second half. We were down 28-0 and we could've folded over and let it be 56-0. Toward the end of the first half they started to believe in themselves so I challenged them to win the second half. They came out and did it and that's something we have to build on."
Northern Colorado's defense intercepted three passes, the most since Oct. 10, 2009 when the team did so against Portland State. Junior linebacker Cameron Friend had two of the picks, while junior defensive back Marcel Gibbons had the other.
Senior defensive back Elliott Dorsey tallied a career-best 16 tackles, shattering his previous career-high of seven, to lead the defense, while senior defensive back Chuks Nweke also had a career-best with 11 stops.
"You like it when your kids are involved and making plays," said Collins. "On Cameron's point, he had two picks, one on a batted ball he brought in at its highest point and the one he had on the goal line. That's awesome. With Dorsey having so many tackles, it is a blessing and a curse. You don't want your secondary to have all those tackles because that means something up front is going wrong. I am glad he was there to make those plays and because he made those tackles they (CSU) weren't in the end zone more in the second half. I'm happy those two kids made the plays they did."
Sophomore running back Quintin Hildreth led all players with 117 rushing yards on 10 carries. Junior quarterback Matt Baca, who came in during the second quarter, completed 6-of-14 passes for 56 yards and one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Patrick Walker had six catches for 32 yards to lead the receivers.
"We knew when we got him (Hildreth) he'd be a good running back," said Collins. "We didn't expect to use him this fast but when you have injuries early in the season you have to count on your guys. Quintin did a great job stepping in and making it happen for us."
Colorado State scored early in the first quarter after Ivory Herd intercepted a pass and returned it 11 yards to the 33-yard line. Two plays later, the Rams took a 7-0 lead and extended it to 28-0 at the half.
CSU scored a field goal on its first drive of the second half for the 31-0 advantage. On third-down from the four yardline on the play previous, Gibbons broke up a pass in the end zone to prevent his second touchdown of the day as he also had an interception in the end zone during the second quarter.
On Northern Colorado's first drive of the second half, Baca led the team on an eight-play, 80-yard drive hitting Morris in the end zone for a 10-yard gain. Eden made the point-after for the 31-7 tally. The Bears defense stepped up on the ensuing drive as Vave tipped a Thomas pass and Friend went up and caught it giving UNC possession on the 32-yard line.
Colorado State's final score of the game was a safety by Max Morgan with 10:23 to play and the Bears second touchdown was a Hildreth 66-yard scamper with 6:27 on the clock.
Northern Colorado begins Big Sky Conference play next Saturday at Idaho State. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 pm.