FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Caleb Hanie passed for 248 yards and three
touchdowns, and Damon Morton returned a punt 58 yards for a score
in Colorado State's 35-23 victory over struggling Fresno State on
Morton, Luke Roberts and tight end Kory Sperry caught TD passes
as the Rams (3-1) rallied from a halftime deficit with 21 straight
points. Morton had five catches for 103 yards as Colorado State
bounced back from a lifeless loss at Nevada two weeks ago with a
poised victory in Bulldog Stadium -- usually among the West Coast's
toughest road stops.
But Morton's blazing return on the final play of the third
quarter quieted a Fresno crowd witnessing consecutive home losses
for the first time in coach Pat Hill's 10 seasons. Fresno State
(1-3) lost 31-24 at home to Oregon on Sept. 9 before a one-point
loss at Washington two weeks ago.
"Offensively, we were not in sync," Hill said. "We just
couldn't get into a rhythm. We did not run the ball effectively ...
I think we've got good football players, but are we a good football
team right now? The answer is no."
Tom Brandstater was just 19-of-42 for 205 yards, throwing three
interceptions as the Bulldogs got off to only their second 1-3
start since 1998 -- Hill's second year at Fresno State, and his only
losing season. The 2002 squad also started 1-3, but recovered to
reach a bowl game.
"It's hard, because we worked real hard during the week,"
linebacker Dwayne Andrews said. "We put a lot of stuff in the
bank, and we expect to get dividends. We're not getting the payback
Sperry had a 53-yard TD catch in the second quarter, and Roberts
put Colorado State ahead for good with a 14-yard TD reception
midway through the third quarter from Hanie, who went 15-of-23.
Morton added a 41-yard scoring catch with 9½ minutes to play for
the Rams, who open their Mountain West Conference schedule next
weekend against UNLV.
"They're hurting a little bit at quarterback, and that was the
difference," Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said. "(Hanie)
made those plays for us, and we ended up doing well."
Chastin West caught a TD pass for the Bulldogs, but the
emotional fire that drove Hill's best teams still hasn't emerged in
his latest bunch. Even tailback Dwayne Wright struggled, managing
just 77 yards after getting more than 100 in each of Fresno State's
first three games.
"They were just the better team tonight," Wright said. "They
wanted it more, but now the preseason is over. We need to win the
Fresno State's Josh Sherley returned a blocked punt 15 yards for
a score with 5:56 to play, but the extra-point attempt was blocked.
Wright scored on a 1-yard dive on Fresno State's first drive,
but Colorado State replied with Gartrell Johnson's 1-yard TD run.
The Rams went ahead midway through the second quarter when Sperry
caught a short pass from Hanie and rumbled through at least four
potential tacklers on the way to the end zone.
Fresno State took a 17-14 halftime lead with a 66-yard scoring
drive in the final minute, capped by West's 28-yard TD catch with 8
Fresno State's Clifton Smith returned Colorado State's first
punt 35 yards the first time he touched the ball this season. The
return specialist hadn't played since tearing ligaments in his left
knee in the second game of 2005.
Bulldog Stadium's $1.7 million replay board debuted at the game,
but malfunctioned for much of the second half.
"We have this big replay board. I didn't see a replay," Hill