FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Leathernecks of Western Illinois University traveled to Colorado this weekend to pull off the massive upset against FBS opponent the Rams of Colorado State University. However, it didn’t go as planned, as the Necks lost 38-13 to drop to 0-2.
It only took 10 seconds for the Rams to reach the endzone. Quarterback Collin Hill found his target freshman Dante Wright over the outstretched arms of Jalen Powe for the 75-yard touchdown. After Western’s first drive stalled after a sack, the Leatherneck defense caused their first of two turnovers. Redshirt freshman Greg Benton Jr. caused the fumble and redshirt junior Demetri Royer fell on it at the CSU 25-yard line. Less than two minutes later, senior Nathan Erickson converted a 32-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3. But yet again, it didn’t take long for Colorado State to score. On 3rd and 12, Hill checked down to running back Marvin Kinsey Jr. and Kinsey Jr. did the rest, dodging a couple of tackles for the 77-yard score to make it 14-3.
After an unsuccessful field goal attempt from CSU, Western capitalized off another mistake and converted another field goal from Erickson, cutting the lead to eight. This time it was from 44-yards, a season high. Again, CSU answered Western’s field goal with a touchdown. However, it was a long and methodical 1l-play drive, capped off by a strong effort from EJ Scott who got a great push from his teammates after eight Leathernecks couldn’t take him down. After a three-and-out, the Rams had themselves another 3rd and 12 at the Western’s 14. Mills checked down to Kinsey Jr., and he did the rest again, making a guy miss to make it 28-6. With under five to go in the half, junior Mike Viti forced a fumble and teammate Zach Glisan picked it up for the second forced turnover on the day for the Necks. Viti was all over the filed, finishing with 11 tackles and one forced fumble. However, this time the Leathernecks could not capitalize, and the score remained the same going into half after the Rams failed to convert on a 61-yard field goal.
Western had the ball to start the second half, and it was their most promising drive yet, until QB Connor Sampson got sacked on fourth down, killing another promising Leatherneck drive. Sampson was sacked seven times on Saturday, and already 11 times through two games. The Rams converted their fifth touchdown thanks to short field position and missed tackling. Mills handed it off to Wright on the jet sweep, and Wright broke three missed tackles for his second touchdown of the day. After three quarters the Rams had a 35-6 lead.
The first possession of the fourth quarter for the Rams gave them their largest lead of the game, thanks to a 41-yard field goal from Braxton Davis. However, the Necks finally scored a touchdown set up by Kendon Walker’s 42-yard run. Capped off by Connor Sampson’s first throwing touchdown on the year under pressure to speedster Tony Tate with 5:52 in the game, making it 38-13. The score would remain the same the rest of the game giving the Rams their first win of the year.
Western drops to 0-2 for the second straight year, but will come home for their home opener next weekend. For the second straight year, they will play Montana State, who defeated the Leathernecks 26-23 in week one of last year. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. next Saturday.