The mood in Canvas stadium on Friday, September 2 swung dramatically during the Colorado State-South Dakota State University football game, beginning with electric excitement but ultimately shifting to disinterest by halftime in what would be a depressing start to the Rams’ 2021-22 football season.
Sixty minutes before the game even started, the student section was filling up. Students head to toe in green and gold populated the first 30 rows of the east side of the stadium. Music was pumping and cheers never stopped. A constant murmur filled the air, students and media all wondering what the Rams would do to kick off the season, and an electric atmosphere began to fill Canvas Stadium; a lightning warning was recently announced.
Cam the Ram passed the student section and was greeted by rounds of applause and cheering from his adoring fans. And only moments afterward, the rain started to pour. Over the PA system, fans heard, “Please vacate your seats,” but the students never left. As the rain began to soak the grass and the stands, the students persisted.
Students chanted and sung the fight song with all the enthusiasm they could muster. Students screaming “We want football” continued during the stormy weather. Whenever the cameras came by, the cheers grew louder than before and were most likely heard by the students in Braiden and Walnut Halls. All this energy and excitement came before the players even took the field.
About 10 minutes from the planned kick-off, the student section was packed to the brim and continued growing. Piles of students sprinted to find the best seats they could and enjoy the festivities of the game.
As the clock passed 7 p.m., the lightning delay kept up, but the blue sky began to show itself. A rainbow poked through the darkened sky, and the stadium was flooded with people of all ages. A small crowd of blue and yellow populated the southwest stands above the concourse.
At long last, the cannon fired, and the Rams football team took the field for the first time of the 2021-22 season.
For people who may not know a lot about sports, I’ll be breaking down what happened so newer fans can understand the numbers. In some cases, the stats don’t give the full story.
Let’s start by talking about the first down. A team gets three tries to move forward 10 yards. If they don’t get 10 yards in three tries, they can kick the ball to the other team or get one more chance to get the down. If they fail, the opposing team gets the ball at the same spot on the field. The best way to get a first down is getting at least 3.5 yards every play. This way, you never have to punt the ball, and you can almost guarantee a scoring drive. During this game, the Rams had 34 first downs and an average of 7.5 yards per play.
Something not mentioned in the stats is how the fans can react. Fans can be very intense, especially when something they don’t like happens. For example, fans threw their cups of soda at the Jackrabbits after they scored the first touchdown with 2:26 left in the first quarter. The kick cleared the net, flew toward the scoreboard and right into the stands. A small group of people cheered, but it was quiet compared to what we had seen for the Rams.
The Rams ran up the middle for one yard and got their six points. The crowd went nuts, and the light flashed like no tomorrow. Normally (and in this case) the team would then try for the extra point, but there is another option.
In close games, some teams will try for the two-point conversion. This play gives the scoring team a chance to get two points if they can get to the end zone from three yards away. These plays work about 40-50% of the time, but that can be worth the risk in some circumstances. There was one attempt at the two-point conversion this game in the fourth quarter by the Rams, but it was unsuccessful.
The sack is when someone tackles the quarterback before he throws the ball. This stat is a great way to tell how well your defenders can break through the line protecting the quarterback. The Rams’ quarterback, Todd Centeio, was sacked three times during this game.
Near the end of the second half, the Jackrabbits hopped across the field and managed another rushing touchdown. It’s fitting that the Jackrabbits had more touchdowns from running across the field then from passing. Once halftime came around 21-10, students started to file out of the stadium, but the game wasn’t over yet.
The Jackrabbits opened the second half with a 17-yard passing touchdown to make it a two-score lead. By this point, half of the student section had gone home, and the other half was sitting with their faces in their phones. The crowd lost interest, and the only hope of keeping the students in the stadium was to play well.
During the second half, teams will probably be tired. When the quarterback is tired, he makes more mistakes. These mistakes can lead to bad plays and possible turnovers. The two kinds of turnovers are interceptions and fumbles. Fumbles are when the ball is on the ground and the other team gets it, while interceptions are caught out of the air by a defender.
Technically there can be a third kind of turnover called a Pick 6 where the interception is returned for a touchdown, but it’s still an interception. Keeping interceptions and fumbles to a minimum is key for winning a game. In most cases, the team with less turnovers wins the game. The Rams had one turnover more than South Dakota that lead to another Jackrabbit touchdown.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the stadium was practically empty, and the attendance was about 20% what it was only a few hours before. Fourth quarter play began to pick up with lots of scoring plays. The Rams managed to get two more touchdowns. They missed the two-point conversion on one and got the extra point on the second. The Jackrabbits scored another rushing touchdown, making the final score 42-23.
Next week CSU will face Vanderbilt University at Canvas Stadium on September 11 at 8 p.m.
The KCSU sports department can be reached at email@example.com.