DENVER (AP) — The latest version of the Rocky Mountain Showdown turned into a game of flag football.
Phillip Lindsay ran for 140 yards on 19 carries and Colorado capitalized on a trio of debatable offensive pass interference calls by the Pac-12 officiating crew in a 17-3 victory over Colorado State on Friday night.
“I’ll have to watch it on film,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said of the non-reviewable rulings. “But calls go either way, no doubt about it.”
All of these ones went against the Rams (1-1), who were whistled for three pivotal offensive pass interference flags after making key catches either in the end zone or close to it.
“I know that touchdowns on those couple of drives would have been huge for us, could have turned the momentum,” Rams QB Nick Stevens said. “But at the end of the day, they didn’t and we’ve got to live with that.”
In addition to a TD and catches at the Colorado 5- and 15-yard lines that were negated, Stevens lost a 40-yard TD pass that was nullified by a hands-to-the-face flag on an offensive lineman.
“We don’t make excuses or let other people make them for us,” Rams coach Mike Bobo said. “We didn’t win a ballgame, so we didn’t do what we came here to do.”
After opening the season and their new stadium with an impressive 58-27 win over Oregon State, the Rams (1-1) sputtered in losing to the Buffaloes (1-0) for the third straight time, although the pass interference calls did as much to staunch the Rams’ offense as anything Colorado’s defense did.
The first one wiped out Olabisi Johnson’s 21-yard catch at the 5 on CSU’s opening drive, rocking the Rams, who surrendered 17 points on Colorado’s next three possessions.
In the second half, the Rams watched two long touchdown throws nullified in a three-play span to the chagrin of the team and its green-clad fans.
Detrich Clark’s 27-yard TD grab was negated by offensive pass interference and two plays later, Johnson’s 40-yard touchdown catch was wiped off by a hands-to-the-face flag on offensive lineman Jeff Taylor.
“We’re not going to say the refs helped us, but whatever happened, happened,” said freshman cornerback Trey Udoffia, who was in coverage on the Rams’ first two offensive pass interference flags.
Lastly, a 33-yard grab at the 15 by Michael Gallup was wiped off by offensive pass interference, this one drawing an especially loud rebuke from Rams supporters in the crowd of 73,932 at the Denver Broncos’ stadium.
“The ref said he pushed off,” Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver said. “It was what the ref called and that’s how it goes down. It’s pushing on every play, it’s just something that goes with the game.”
BURST OF OFFENSE: Lindsay started Colorado’s 17-point run with a 45-yard rumble up the middle and Shay Fields caught a 31-yard TD pass from Steven Montez sandwiched around a 39-yard field goal by James Stefanou.
Wyatt Bryan’s 31-yard field goal in the second quarter accounted for the Rams’ only points.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Colorado State cornerback Kevin Nutt had a pair of interceptions on passes Montez threw to Devin Ross, including one in the end zone.
DOUBLE TROUBLE II: Stevens was sacked on his final two snaps of the first half — his only sacks in 49 drop-backs. After he was sacked for an 8-yard loss and the teams started heading to their respective tunnels, the Rams called timeout to give Stevens one more chance at a Hail Mary and he was sacked for a 10-yard loss.
COLORADO STATE: The Rams will try to rebound like they did last year, when the lost to the Buffs 44-7 to open their season but bounced back to go 6-5 and earn their second straight bowl berth.
COLORADO: The Buffs are hoping to show their 10-4 season last year wasn’t a fluke and a big win over their in-state rival is a good way to start.
COLORADO STATE: The Rams host Abilene Christian next weekend before their big game at Alabama on Sept. 16.
COLORADO: The Buffaloes’ next three games — against Texas State, Northern Colorado and Washington — are all at Folsom Field.
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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