October 15, 2023
I was standing at the corner of the end zone for the Hail
Mary and was able to snap this with my cell phone. Dallin Holker (5), at left here, ended up making the catch as the Rams
miraculously pulled into a tie on the final play of the fourth quarter. Jordan Noyes' extra-point kick gave the Rams the 31-30
win. In the picture, Tory Horton and Louis
Brown IV (4) are going up for the Rams as Holker trails the play.
And here, the officials make the call, which stood
up through the video review. At that point, at least the east side of the stadium (in the background) was nearly empty.
FORT COLLINS -- It was the Miracle on West Pitkin Street.
If you're looking here, chances are you're aware -- giddily
aware -- of how the Colorado State Rams came back from a 30-10 fourth-quarter deficit, scoring 21 points in the final 4:01
to knock off Boise State 31-30 Saturday night at Canvas Stadium. And that during the frantic finish, Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi
threw touchown passes of 12 yards to Louis Brown IV and 2 yards to Dylan Goffney before the coup de grace as time ran out,
a Hail Mary that (see above) went for a 33-yard touchdown completion after diving tight end Dallin Holker controlled the carom
before hitting the ground.
made it 30-30, and Jordan Noyes made the extra point before the several thousand (maybe) remaining Rams fans celebrated.
A lot more had to break right for the Rams in the final minutes,
and part of it was Boise State's shaky clock management, one successful CSU onside kick and a Broncos' three-and out as they
failed to close the deal.
The Broncos were left stunned, asking: What the hell just happened?
But come to think of it, did
anyone really think a team called the Broncos could win a game in Colorado in 2023?
Dallin Holker hangs on to the ball in the
post-game celebration as the remaining Rams' fans stormed the field. (Photo courtesy Lisa Morphet Nelson via Facebook.)
"As a coach, I'm always trying to encourage my kids to
continue to believe," CSU coach Jay Norvell said of the Rams. "But I was motivated by them a lot of times. They
would not fold. I'm so proud of them."
Norvell joked about the virtually empty stands at
the end. What turned out to be the 8 p.m. opening kickoff on FS1, the game's snail-like pace and the Rams' performance combined
to drive away many (most?) of the Ram fans.
"It was pretty incredible," Norvell said. "There probably will be a lot of people
years from now that say they were at this game but (they) probably went home early. . . It's probably the most amazing game
I've had a chance to coach in, just to see a group of guys continue to fight."
Here's the question, though: Will this be
a turning point for Norvell's program? "We needed a breakthrough win, and we
finally got one tonight," he said.
The Rams were down by 20 at home. They couldn't help but notice that the seats
were mostly unoccupied amid a morgue-like atmosphere, and it seemed a reprise of the depressing setting that plagued the program
in its final seasons under Mike Bobo and especially under Steve Addazio, a horrible fit for CSU from the second he was hired.
If it played out as expected from there, the Rams would have been 2-4, the credibility generated by their 2-overtime loss
to Colorado would have been about gone, and the rest of the season would have been set up as playing out the string.
It was reasonable to ask about the long-term impact in the
wake of the raucuous post-game celebration on the field and in the 3-3 Rams' dressing room.
Media members, for whom college football locker rooms normally are off limits in the
era of restricted and controlled access, were allowed and ushered in to watch and record Norvell's emotional speech,
including the rewarding of individual game balls
to the injured Kennedy McDowell, CSU President Amy Parsons and AD Joe Parker, plus a fourth to all the players. That video
is all over the place as I type. Yes, I'm
going to say it might have illustrated that the Prime program's showmanship in Boulder has been noticed. In fact, as this
game was winding down, Kenan Thompson was portraying Deion Sanders on "Saturday Night Live." The Buffs' Friday night
collapse against Stanford came up.
Don't knock 'em; join 'em. Get it all on YouTube or the university site. After all, it's all a reality show.
Jay Norvell in the post-game interview room.
By then, it was nearly 1 a.m.
Eventually, in a softball mood, I asked Norvell if the win reinforced his faith that the program, despite struggles,
was headed in the right direction and he and his staff could get the job done. (I wasn't asking for a replay of Addazio's
"this- close" gesture with thumb and index finger.)
"Whenever you win, it re-enforces all the hard work everybody puts in," Norvell said. "It confirms
with the kids that if they invest the time and the effort, special things can happen. These kids will remember this game the
rest of their lives. So will I. That's the cool thing about sports."
Jordan Noyes, left, and Dallin Holker.
Actually, I can back Norvell's point about the unforgettable qualities of exceptional
comeback wins like this one. It's eerie how similar my father's 1970 Oregon Ducks' miraculous 41-40 win over UCLA in the Los Angeles Coliseum
was to the Rams' comeback. In that 1970 game, the Ducks trailed 40-21 before scoring TDs with 4:05 left, 2:24 left, and 30
seconds remaining. That was 53 years ago, but the players on that team -- and many Oregon fans -- still talk about that game
to this day.
Even the uniforms are similar. Ahmad Rashad, Dan Fouts and Tom Graham
all played key roles in the Oregon Ducks' late comeback from a 40-21 deficit to beat UCLA 41-40 in the Los Angeles Coliseum
in 1970. One of Graham's sons played for CU, another for CSU. And the storylines of the Ducks' and Rams' comeback wins --
53 years apart -- have commonalities. Including that neither will be forgotten.
Dwight Chapin's story in the Los Angeles
Times. I've seen several versions of the story in various Sunday editions. I'm sure many scribes frantically had to rip
pages out of their typewriters and construct new ledes.