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Colorado State knocked off Arizona 29-21 in Tuscon, Ariz., Saturday. A matchup between two notable teams, the game was back and forth and eventually went the way of the Rams.
The visitors got on the board first, with a try in the opening 10 minutes. Being the Rams' first preseason game, the team came out fired up but was plagued by some early season fitness problems. “We got off to a really good start,” said Colorado State assistant coach Ryan Walker. “Once we started getting tired a few errors started to creep into the game and slowed down the pace of both teams.”
The Rams were very effective in broken play. “Colorado State was just better than us today when it came to the unstructured play in the pack,” Arizona coach Sean Duffy said.
Arizona crept back into the game earning a penalty to cut the lead to 5-3 in the 20th minute. CSU responded with a converted try to go up, 12-3, but allowed another score to the Wildcats to make the game 12-10. Another try for the Rams and a penalty to Arizona made the game 19-13 going into the break. Though CSU was in the lead, the Rams felt they could have had a bigger cushion.
“We dominated possession but we just kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times and let them come back into it,” Walker said.
Arizona continued to stick around and took the lead in the second half. A try and a penalty gave the Wildcats a 21-19 lead, but the Rams showed some resilience, responding with a penalty to retake the lead, 22-21. A try with less than 10 minutes to play sealed the victory for the Rams.
“It was back and forth in that last 20 minutes,” said Duffy. Arizona got solid performances from scrumhalf Kyle Rodgers and good structure in the set piece from Josh Reidell. For Arizona, however, “we are getting good contributions, but it's about putting all of those together on the same day,” Duffy mentioned.
Eagles Select player Ben Pinkelman had a strong performance for the Rams. “You can always rely on him. Every time he touches the ball you know something exciting is going to happen,” said Walker. “He was just a monster,” added Duffy.
Although Pinkelman had a standout performance, the man of the match award went to prop Jackson Brockway. “His tackling was second to none. He has textbook form,” added Walker. A smaller prop, Brockway helped neutralize a bigger Arizona pack.
Colorado State should move into the rankings after a road victory in Arizona and will be brimming with confidence as it moves into league play.
“I think it is huge for us mentally,” said Walker. “We have started to gain some attention of some people, so we thought we would schedule a big name school away in the preseason to test us out.”