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Sports / Recreation

Rams improve to 3-0 with 35-20 win over Nevada

September 20, 2009

The CSU Rams collected five Nevada turnovers, including Elijah-Blu Smith's third interception in three games, and Grant Stucker threw two touchdown passes as the Rams defeated Nevada 35-20 at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium Saturday.

FS Elijah-Blu Smith hauled in his third interception in three games

Smith picked off a Colin Kaepernick pass with 3 minutes, 24 seconds left in the third quarter to put an end to a Wolf Pack drive that could've made it a one-score game. Instead, the Rams regained possession and maintained a 21-6 lead.

Nevada (0-2) had two turnovers while in CSU territory, which were wasted opportunities for the team.

"Sometimes things just don't go your way," Kaepernick said. "We all just have to get on the same page."

Four touchdowns off a turnover

The Rams (3-0) were rather satisfied with their plus-five turnover margin on the day.

"We got four touchdowns off a turnover," CSU head coach Steve Fairchild said. "We got a turnover and went in and scored. They dialed it up for us and we were able to put together some time-consuming drives to keep the defense fresh. That was a good Nevada team. They were much better than what the score said against Notre Dame."

Smith said Saturday's takeaways will be difficult to top.

"Five turnovers; you can't get better than that," Smith said. "(The defense) showed up and we had a good game."

Smith noticed for play-making ability

The rest of the Rams have noticed Smith's play-making ability.

"You could tell last year watching him play that he was going to be a big-time guy," senior safety Klint Kubiak said. "He is a great athlete and he is going to keep making plays like that all year."

Saturday's big play from Smith led to Stucker's second touchdown pass of the game 7 seconds into the fourth quarter off of play-action. Stucker found fullback Zac Pauga for 35 yards, Pauga's first career touchdown, to give CSU a 28-6 lead. That was all they would need to win the game.

Rams' grabbed control early

CSU grabbed control of the game early on when it struck first less than 5 minutes into the contest on a John Mosure's 1-yard run at the 8:42 mark in the first quarter. This drive was started when Kaepernick fumbled at the Nevada 24-yard line and junior cornerback DeAngelo Wilkinson, making his first career start, pounced on the loose ball.

CSU increased the lead to two scores when wide receiver Dion Morton took a lateral from Stucker and threw a 25-yard touchdown to tight end Eric Peitz. Morton, who was a quarterback in high school, got his second touchdown pass in two games on the play.

"It makes it feel a little easier," Morton said. "I had not caught a touchdown pass at that point yet and it felt good to get the receivers going."

Five forced turnovers, two recovered fumbles

The Rams' five forced turnovers were their most since Oct. 20, 2007, at UNLV. Kubiak had a diving INT early in the second quarter to go along with Smith's, and CSU also recovered three Nevada fumbles.

Junior linebacker Alex Williams recovered two fumbles, first from Wolf Pack running back Vai Taua with 3:35 left in the first half. The Wolf Pack had driven to the CSU 35 and was looking to make it a 14-7 game. Instead, CSU held on and prevented an opponent from scoring in the first half for the first time since Sept. 13, 2003, against Weber State.

Turnovers limited any chances Nevada had of keeping up with CSU in the game.

"You have five turnovers and you're not going to win any ball games," Nevada head coach Chris Ault said. "It's just that simple."

QB has 35-yard touchdown run

Stucker finished the game 10 of 20 for 165 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a 35-yard touchdown run with 6:43 left in the game, making the score 35-6. Morton caught his first touchdown of the year, to go with his touchdown pass, on a 49-yarder from Stucker in the third quarter. Mosure ended the day with 18 carries for 99 yards in his first action since being injured in the first half against CU.

"The doctors took care of me here," Mosure said. "It was good to take the right precautions because now I feel like my old self."

Wilkinson finished with two tackles and one pass breakup to go with his fumble recovery. He started at corner opposite senior Nick Oppenneer to fill in for the injured Gerard Thomas. Williams had two forced fumbles on the day to go along with five tackles. CSU held Kaepernick, a known dual-threat quarterback, to just 24 yards on the ground and 251 through the air, 214 of which came in the second half.

Played well against Nevada's running game

"We played well against (Kaepernick) and we played well against their running game," Fairchild said. "You have to make sure he doesn't hurt you with the big play in the running game."

Nevada's Brandon Wimberly, a redshirt freshman wide-out, led all receivers in the game with seven catches for 104 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown reception as time expired in the fourth quarter.

Next up: at BYU Saturday

The Rams improved to 3-0 with the win, heading into their first conference game of the season Saturday at BYU. The game will be televised on the mtn. at 4 p.m. MT. The Rams last started 3-0 in 1994 and ended that season ranked 16th in the nation with a 10-2 record.