ACU loses to Colorado State, on to new stadium opener
FORT COLLINS, Colorado - Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon as the Rams ran their record on "Ag Day" to 8-0 with a 38-10 win over ACU in the second game ever at sparkling CSU Stadium. The Wildcats are 0-2 after a pair of losses to teams from the Mountain West Conference (New Mexico and Colorado State). The Rams, meanwhile, are 2-1 before they head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., next week to take on top-ranked Alabama. "Ag Day" is a celebration of CSU's past when the school was Colorado A&M and the nickname was the Aggies. The Rams - who normally wear green and gold - wore pumpkin and alfalfa on Saturday in a nod to the program's original colors. ACU trailed 17-0 at halftime before Bryson Gates blocked a punt that Erik Huhn returned 16 yards for a score to cut the lead to 17-7 with 13:38 left in the third quarter, putting the Wildcats right back in the game. But the Rams answered with a 48-yard scoring drive to regain a 24-7 lead before ACU got a 29-yard field goal from Nik Grau to cut the CSU lead back to 24-10 with 4:14 left in the third quarter. Izzy Matthews caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Stevens with 2:07 left in the third quarter to make it 31-10 and Marvin Kinsey Jr. capped the scoring with 5:40 left in the game when he bulled in from two yards out. ACU quarterback Dallas Sealey - who was 33 for 53 last week against New Mexico - was 25 for 38 for 258 yards on Saturday. The Wildcats finished with 333 yards of total offense. PLAYS THAT MATTERED -- 1Q - Trailing 7-0, the Wildcats got their offense moving before facing fourth-and-1 from the CSU 34-yard line. But Dallas Sealey's pass to Qua'Shawn Washington went for no yards, turning the ball back over to the Rams. -- 2Q - Leading 10-0, the Rams moved inside the ACU 30-yard line before Detrich Clark dropped a 4th-and-2 pass from Nick Stevens to give the ball back to the Wildcats. -- 2Q - ACU turned that fourth-down stop into its best drive of the first half, moving the ball to the CSU 1-yard line. Along the way, Sealey completed a pass for 31 yards to Justin Miller on third-and-15, and then hit DeShun Qualls for 41 yards to the CSU 5-yard line. -- 2Q - On fourth-and-goal from the CSU 1-yard line, Tracy James was stopped, putting an end to ACU's best drive of the game. -- 2Q - Colorado State responded with a 99-yard touchdown drive that saw Nick Stevens complete 3 of 3 passes on third down plays: 12 yards to Michael Gallup on third-and-8 from his own 3-yard line, for 10 yards to the CSU 33-yard line on 3rd-and-2 from the CSU 23, and for 37 yards to Olabisi Johnson to the ACU 6-yard line on third-and-12. -- 2Q - Nike Stevens hit Gallup for a 6-yard touchdown pass to put the Rams up 17-0. -- 2Q - With Colorado State driving late in the second quarter, Dylan Douglass forced a fumble at the ACU 5-yard line and Gavin Burford pounced on it to keep the Rams out of the end zone and keep the score 17-0 at halftime. -- 3Q - Colorado State did nothing with its first offensive possession of the second half and was forced to punt. Bryson Gates blocked it and Erik Huhn picked it up and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown to cut the CSU lead to 17-7 with 13:38 left in the third quarter. -- 3Q - On Colorado State's ensuing possession, the Rams moved into ACU territory before Burford picked off Stevens at the 19-yard line and returned it to the 33-yard line to once again keep the Rams out of the end zone. -- 3Q - However, on ACU's first play on its ensuing series, Qualls - a high school quarterback - was picked off a wide receiver pass, giving the Rams the ball back near midfield. -- 3Q - Colorado State turned that interception into a six-play, 48-yard scoring drive that was capped when Stevens hit Detrich Clark with a 19-yard TD pass to push the Rams' lead to 24-7 with 6:12 left in the quarter. -- 3Q - ACU responded with a scoring drive that saw Sealey hit De'Andre Brown for 14 yards and DeShun Qualls for 39 yards, the last moving the ball to the CSU 12-yard line. The Wildcats were forced to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Nik Grau to cut the CSU lead to 24-10 with 4:14 left in the third quarter. THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW -- Erik Huhn picked up a third-quarter blocked punt and returned it 16 yards for a score early in the third quarter, the first time ACU has scored on a blocked punt since Caleb Withrow fell on a blocked punt in the end zone against Northeastern State on Sept. 11, 2010, in Tahlequah, Okla. -- The Wildcats were shut out in the first half (17-0). The last time they were shut out was Oct. 15, 2016, when they trailed Sam Houston State, 27-0, at the break in Huntsville. -- ACU didn't throw a touchdown pass Saturday, snapping a streak of 49 straight games with at least one touchdown pass for the Wildcats. That streak dated back to a 36-0 loss at West Texas A&M in 2012. STAT CORNER -- Safety Bolu Onifade had a career-high 17 tackles, 11 of them solo stops. He also had one tackle for loss and two pass breakups. -- Safety Brandon Richmond had another 12 tackles with eight of them registering as solo tackles. Richmond also had a fumble recovery and one pass breakup. -- The Wildcats were 5 of 19 on third and fourth downs combined (5 for 16 on third downs and 0 for 3 on fourth downs). -- Nik Grau's 29-yard third quarter field goal gives him 38 field goals in his career, moving him to within four field goals of tying Matt Adams (42 field goals from 2005-08) for third place on ACU's all-time list. Morgan Lineberry (2009-12) is the all-time leader with 50. -- Backup middle linebacker Gavin Burford had four tackles in the game, but had a fumble recovery at the ACU 5-yard line and an interception at the ACU 19-yard line, both of them turning away CSU scoring threats. QUOTABLE ACU head coach Adam Dorrel … general comments "I'm very pleased with our effort today against a really good Colorado State team. I thought we played hard, and that's what we're preaching in trying to create a different culture in this program. Colorado State is so big and physical, but I was proud of the way we held up for four quarters." … on not getting into end zone on fourth-and-goal at CSU 1-yard line "That definitely took some wind out of our sails. Football is a game of ups and downs, and you've got to be able to overcome those things." … on scoring on the blocked kick "One of our goals coming into the game was to block a kick on special teams, and the other was to score on special teams, so to be able to do both on one play was big for us. The sideline was electric after that play because we were back in the game and our guys knew it. I don't know that too many people thought we'd be in the game with Colorado State early in the third quarter." … on being aggressive on third and fourth downs in the game. "As a head coach you can't preach all week about being aggressive and trying to make things happen and trying to win the game and then not do it on Saturdays. In any other situation, I probably kick a field or punt on some of those plays, but with nothing to lose and everything to gain today, we knew we had to be aggressive in those situations." UP NEXT The Wildcats open Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium - the program's first on-campus stadium since World War II - next Saturday (Sept. 16) at 6 p.m. when it hosts Houston Baptist in the Southland Conference-opener for both teams. HBU is 1-1 on the season after losing its opener at Texas State and then bouncing back to beat Texas Southern last Thursday.
Courtesy ACU Athletics