Michael Gallup’s three touchdown, 263-yard performance proved to be the difference maker in Colorado State’s 44-42 comeback victory against Nevada on Saturday night.
“Michael Gallup just really had a good look in his eye during warmups,” head coach Mike Bobo recalled. “He wanted the ball all night.”
The favorite target of quarterback Nick Stevens, Gallup tied a career-best in both receptions per game (13) and scores per game (3). His 263 yards set a career high for the senior but fell two yards short of the record teammate Olabisi Johnson set last season.
Stevens had a game himself, going 26-of-37 for 384 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
Bobo said twice in his post game presser that he almost had a heart attack, but Gallup referred to the back-and-forth shootout as “fun”.
“You look at the defenders’ face and he’s looking really sad and stuff like that,” the soft-spoken Gallup said with a laugh.
As lighthearted as the senior wide receiver was post game, this was a hard-fought victory for the Rams.
Stevens and Gallup got the Rams rolling early, connecting for two touchdowns early in the 1st quarter. But after the gut check, Nevada snapped into action.
Junior quarterback Ty Gangi got the Wolf Pack on the board on their second possession, finding Trevion Armstrong for a 5-yard touchdown.
That momentum carried over to Nevada’s defense, which played a crucial role in their following score. With the Rams at midfield, Detrich Clark fumbled on Nevada’s 37-yard line. The Wolf Pack’s Asauni Rufus would come up with the recovery, gaining 11 yards on the play.
Giving up the “big plays” was detrimental for CSU. Nevada would need just one play - a double pass from Gangi to Kelton Moore and from Moore to a wide-open McLane Mannix - to even up the score at 14-all.
The scoring did not slow down in the 2nd quarter as the two programs exchanged blow for blow.
The Rams regained the lead with an Izzy Matthews one-yard rush but the Wolf Pack matched it with a one-yard score from Moore.
A 14-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Fackrell would put CSU up 28-21 at the break.
By the time the second half started, CSU fans were filing out of the stadium in masses, seemingly taking the positive energy with them.
At the same time, Nevada’s pass attack was becoming too much to handle for Colorado State.
Gangi threw 310 of his overall total of 428 yards in the second half, connecting with Daiyan Henley, Wyatt Demps, and Brendan O’Leary-Orange for touchdowns. With 4:52 left in the third quarter, the Wolf Pack was up 42-31 – their largest lead of the night.
But not all hope was lost for the Rams because they still had one major advantage: Michael Gallup.
Stevens would hook up with Gallup once more in the 4th quarter, a 17-yard pass that would ultimately be the game winner.
“He’s definitely become a guy I can rely on. You can tell anyone who has that many yards as a receiver that’s obviously the case,” Stevens said about his teammate. “He went up and made a lot of good plays for me and for this offense. We really relied on him today and he came through clutch when he needed him to.”
Both teams would later miss field goal opportunities and a key, fourth-down stop by the Rams defense would seal the deal.
HOMECOMING UNDER THE LIGHTS
Saturday’s game marked the first night game in CSU’s new stadium. It’s the first Homecoming on campus since 1967.
A sold-out crowd of 36,765 fans attended the game but the stadium was nearly empty by the end of the third quarter.
This is the fourth straight homecoming victory for the Rams who have never lost to the Wolf Pack when playing in Fort Collins.
Before kickoff, Colorado State held a moment of silence for Rachael Max, the daughter of senior associate athletic director Doug Max.
Rachael passed away in an early morning fire at the Max’s home on October 8th. She was 32 years old.
A GoFundMe account listed as the Doug and Cindy Max Assistance Fund was set up to help with Rachael’s funeral costs as well as replacing items lost in the fire. As of 10:15 p.m. Saturday night, the account is just $3,350 short of their 75k goal.
Nevada (1-6, 1-2) heads back home for a 7:30 p.m. (MT) matchup with Air Force on Friday, October 20.
Colorado State (5-2, 3-0) travels to New Mexico on Friday. Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. (MT).