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FORT COLLINS — Colorado State and Vanderbilt were among six FBS teams to lose to lower-level FCS squads in Week 1, so Saturday night’s matchup at Canvas Stadium featured two schools that aimed to bounce back and restore program respectability.
The Rams would have accomplished that by beating the SEC Commodores, who failed to score a touchdown against East Tennessee State last week. But CSU, which was blown out by visiting South Dakota State in Week 1, suffered a mid-game offensive collapse and Vanderbilt stormed back from a two-touchdown deficit to defeat the Rams 24-21 before an announced crowd of 27,233.
“I thought we battled. I thought we improved. I thought we played hard but we’re still too much of a roller-coaster ride. We’ve got to be cleaner,” CSU coach Steve Addazio said.
The winning points came on a 38-yard field goal by Commodores kicker Joseph Bulovas with 19 seconds remaining. The winning drive was aided by CSU pass interference and targeting penalties.
The Rams, who led 14-0 early, tied it 21-21 on a fourth-and-goal from Vandy’s 3-yard line with 3:07 remaining, with All-American tight end Trey McBride hauling in a pass from quarterback Todd Centeio.
“I thought we pressed in the end to win that game and, of course, on the last (Vanderbilt) drive there is a PI call and a targeting call,” Addazio said. “I’ll have to look at the tape. But we didn’t play well enough in the third period, the third period really hurt us. And we didn’t put the game (away) when we had a chance in the second period. You can’t do that. You have to learn how to put a knockout punch in.”
He added: “When we went into halftime I just said to myself, ‘We had a chance to put this game away and we didn’t do it.’ I was hoping that wouldn’t come back to haunt us. I really felt like it should have been 28-0 at the half.”
CSU’s first five second-half possessions ended in an interception and four three-and-outs, drives that lasted only 52 seconds, 1:23, 1:27 and 43 seconds. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, tied it 14-14 early in the third quarter by capitalizing on an interception by Jaylen Mahoney, who stepped in front of Centeio’s target, Dante Wright.
Vandy quarterback Ken Seals went on to cap a nine-play, 53-yard drive with a nine-yard TD pass to Cam Johnson.
After CSU’s ensuing three-and-out, Seals led a 75-yard drive that led to his 1-yard TD run for a 21-14 lead.
From the outset, CSU created scoring opportunities in four of its first drives. But the Rams only produced 14 points because kicker Cayden Camper missed two field goals from 39 and 46 yards.
The touchdowns came from tailback David Bailey, who caught a 3-yard TD to open the scoring just 2:03 into the game and scored on a 17 yard run in the first minute of the second quarter.
The Rams scored quickly on the game’s first possession. They needed just five plays to go 75 yards, capped by Bailey’s short reception in the right flat. The drive included 21- and 27-yard pass plays from Centeio to McBride.
CSU’s second touchdown came off a Vanderbilt turnover. A fumble by Seals was recovered by defensive end Scott Patchen at Vandy’s 27-yard line. Three plays later, Bailey broke loose up the middle for his 17-yard TD.
“I thought we played as good as we can play in that first quarter (and) I thought we had an opportunity in the first half to put that game away,” Addazio. “We didn’t score enough points at halftime. It was completely a lopsided game statistically at halftime.”
Vanderbilt cut its deficit in the half with its first touchdown of the season with 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Seals found wide receiver Chris Pierce for a 20-yard TD to cap a six-play, 58-yard drive that began after Camper’s second failed field goal.