Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
BOULDER, Colo. -- As Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild walked off Folsom Field on the University of Colorado campus, fans came storming toward him, arms outstretched.
There were handshakes and hugs all in congratulations for a 23-17 win over rival Colorado, the first Colorado State win in Boulder in 23 years.
“I can’t say enough about [defensive coordinator] Larry Kerr and our defensive staff and the way our defense played because we held up against the run pretty damn good and got them out of there on third down,” Fairchild said. “I kind of dialed it up for our offense tonight. We made enough plays offensively. It was difficult balancing some of the time in there with [running back] Leonard Mason, his first game, and [quarterback] Grant Stucker, his first game, and to win a game like this you’ve got to take a couple chances. You’ve got to air it out a little bit. We made enough plays to win it and I can’t say enough about our defense.”
In the first half, the Colorado State defense held Colorado to just 63 yards of total offense. It picked off Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins and held the Buffaloes to no third-down conversions on six tries. Overall, the Colorado State defense held Colorado's corps of highly recruited running backs to just 29 yards.
The defense allowed Stucker and Mason to get into a rhythm. During the Rams’ first series, Stucker threw a 57-yard bomb to receiver Dion Morton to set up the Rams’ first score. Stucker led the Rams to scores on three of their first four possessions.
Stucker would throw two more deep passes -- 43 and 45 yards -- during the course of the game to set up scores.
“I think it helped his confidence,” Fairchild said of Stucker’s first drive. “We gave him a throw on first down just to kind of show him that we trust him. He’s going to have to play. We’re always going to have to be balanced here. He did a nice job.”
Stucker completed 10 of 17 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. Mason had 23 carries for 107 yards and three catches for 20 yards.
But the night belonged to a Colorado State defense that sacked Hawkins four times. Last season, Colorado State ranked last in the nation in sacks with nine.
Colorado’s leading rusher, Rodney Stewart, had 38 yards, and highly touted running back Darrell Scott, who was supposed to be a part of a three-headed power rushing attack with Stewart and Demetrius Sumler, had one carry for 1 yard and it came on the first play of the game.
Colorado State’s win gave the Mountain West Conference a 6-2 start to the season, including a 2-1 record against teams from automatic qualifying conferences. All of those games were against the Big 12.
In Colorado State’s win against Colorado and No. 20 BYU’s win against No. 3 Oklahoma, the teams from the Mountain West were underdogs.