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“The Four Minute Miracle”: How the Rams pulled off an 18 point comeback to beat Boise State 31-30

With 3 TDs in the final four minutes, miracle may be an understatement. Dallin Holker caught the Hail Mary deflection to deliver CSU their first ever win against Boise State

As Ashton Jeanty ran in his third score of the day to put Boise State up by 20 with six minutes to play, all hope appeared to be lost. The Rams offense had shown little life so far, and while the defense had forced three turnovers and slowed Jeanty down in the second half, it wasn’t going to be enough for the programs first win against the Broncos.

Somehow, some way, in the rain of the Fort Collins night, the Rams refused to go away.

A quick touchdown drive, Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi’s best of the night, would cut the lead to 13 with four minutes to go. It dropped the Broncos win probability from 99.8% to 97.9%. The Rams recovered the onside kick, and drove back into the red zone. On fourth and goal, BFN’s pass hit the ground, but so did a penalty flag for pass interference, drawn by Tory Horton. Two plays later, Dylan Goffney secured the second touchdown in four minutes to make it a 30-24 ballgame.

Miraculously, CSU recovered a second straight onside kick, but it was negated by an early blocking penalty. With one timeout and two minutes left, the Rams defense pinned their ears back and forced a three and out to keep the comeback alive.

33 seconds, no timeouts, 88 yards to go.

Goffney picked up 11 yards on the first play, but the game had to stop for an injury to him before the Rams could spike it. With 17 seconds left, BFN hit Horton on a deep post for 44 yards. The ball was spiked with six seconds left, leaving one chance for a Hail Mary.

Fowler-Nicolosi dropped back, heaved the ball towards the right corner of the end zone, where a mob of players awaited. The first player to make contact was Boise corner Kaonohi Kaniho, who did what any defensive back is taught to do in this situation; bat it to the ground.

The only problem was that Dallin Holker was ready for that. Trailing the pack by a step or two, he was in perfect position to dive and snag the football, just inches away from the ground. The play stood on review, but the drama had to build even more after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on CSU’s bench for rushing the field. Jordan Noyes lined up for the 35 yard extra point attempt, and he smashed it right down the middle of the uprights.

Against all odds and logic, Colorado State scored 21 points in the final six minutes to not only get their first ever win against Boise State, but complete the biggest comeback in school history. Those that witnessed it will never forget what they saw. It was truly one of the most incredible and improbable comebacks in college football history.

Scoring Timeline

1st Quarter

9:03 - 3 yard TD run from Ashton Jeanty (Dalmas PAT)

Boise State 7, Colorado State 0

2nd Quarter

11:03 - 3 yard TD run from Ashton Jeanty (Dalmas PAT)

Boise State 14, Colorado State 0

2:45 - 49 yard FG from Jonah Dalmas

Boise State 17, Colorado State 0

3rd Quarter

9:58 - 5 yard TD run from Vann Schield (Noyes PAT)

Boise State 17, Colorado State 7

4:07 - 48 yard FG from Jordan Noyes

Boise State 17, Colorado State 10

4th Quarter

14:56 - 43 yard FG from Jonah Dalmas

Boise State 20, Colorado State 10

7:06 - 29 yard FG from Jonah Dalmas

Boise State 23, Colorado State 10

6:12 - 7 yard TD run from Ashton Jeanty (Dalmas PAT)

Boise State 30, Colorado State 10

4:01 - 12 yard TD pass from Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to Louis Brown IV (Noyes PAT)

Boise State 30, Colorado State 17

1:53 - 2 yard TD pass from Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to Dylan Goffney (Noyes PAT)

Boise State 30, Colorado State 24

0:00 - 33 yard TD pass from Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to Dallin Holker (Noyes PAT)

Boise State 30, Colorado State 31

By the Numbers

Jeanty held to 55 rush yards, TD in 2nd half

The defense’s response to the run in the second half was one of the main reasons the comeback was even possible. They held Ashton Jeanty to minimal damage, which compared to the 150+ yards he had in the first half, was incredibly impressive.

Tale of two halves for the Rams offense

If it wasn’t evident from the first half goose egg, Colorado State didn’t play well offensively to start the game. They only had 71 total yards and were 1 of 8 on 3rd down. But once the Rams came back out of the locker room, possibly inspired by the scary moment when freshman edge Kennedy McDowell had to be stretchered off the field (he is in great spirits and has been discharged from the hospital), they regained their poise and began chopping away. Ten points in the third quarter kept the game within striking distance, and even down twenty points, they remained calm. BFN’s threw for 307 yards in the second half, while Tory Horton had 11 catches and 125 yards in the closing quarters. And of course, Dallin Holker’s touchdown grab will go down in CSU lore as one of the best plays ever made by the green and gold.

The hilarity of the win probability chart

The lowest the Broncos chances of winning ever got was 85.7%, when the score was 17-10 in the third. It was above 90% for the entirety of the second and fourth quarter, until the end at least. Boise’s chances of winning during the two minutes they were up 30-10? 99.9%. And last but not least, before the start of the final play of the game, Boise State had a 98.1% chance of winning. I attached the graph below for your viewing pleasure.

Eye Test

The Offense

It wasn’t pretty in the first half, but the offense rallied and got the job done, in the craziest of fashions. BFN finished with 359 yards through the air, three touchdowns, and only one interception, which did hand the Broncos their final TD of the game. The run game wasn’t too successful, but Vann Schield had a key touchdown run in the third quarter to open the scoring for the Rams. The pass catchers played an incredible second half, with Tory Horton and Dallin Holker being their usual “future NFL player” selves, and Dylan Goffney having a breakout performance with seven catches, 85 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line only allowed two sacks, and kept BFN relatively well-protected.

The Defense

After a nightmarish first quarter and a half where Jeanty rushed for over 130 yards, Colorado State’s defense rebounded and was solid for the rest of the game. They only gave up 16 points after that, with one touchdown being a product of an INT that gave Boise the ball at the 22 yard line. The three and out at the end of the game to get the ball back to the offense was a pivotal and under-appreciated part of the insane comeback. The DLine wasn’t as disruptive as usual, but Buom Jock was amazing, with 9 tackles, a fumble recovery, and the onside kick recovery that sadly didn’t count. The linebackers played well, especially considering that Chase Wilson was ejected for targeting in the opening minutes of the game. Justin Sanchez continues to impress with nine tackles and a forced fumble. The secondary held the Broncos to just 138 yards passing, as well as grabbing two interceptions, one for Chigozie Anusiem and Henry Blackburn, respectively. Jack Howell finished with 15 tackles, his second game of the year with that many.

The Special Teams

The specialists didn’t make the biggest impact, but they were solid overall, besides one crucial mistake at the end of the first half. Jordan Noyes was one for two on field goals, the miss being a blocked 45 yard attempt on the last play of the second quarter. His 48 yarder was crucial, since every point counted, as was his four extra points, including the game winner from 35 yards out. Paddy Turner was great, with three of his six punts landing inside the Broncos 15 yard line, including one at the 3 yard line. The return game was a non factor, with the only recorded one from Louis Brown IV going 22 yards.

Going Forward

The Rams are about to play the best in the conference over the next three weeks. It starts with a road test in Vegas, against one of the biggest surprises in the country in UNLV. Then, the battle for the Ram-Falcon Trophy goes down in Fort Collins, against the newly ranked Air Force. Then it’s back on the road, to Laramie to take on Wyoming in the Border War. But if last night is any indication, Colorado State is on their way to being one of the really good football teams. Maybe not this year, but they’re on the right track to get there. Even if they didn’t necessarily deserve to win the game, they found a way to steal it, which counts just the same.

Congrats on surviving to tell the tale of this one, Ram fans. On to Vegas we go, with a bowl game more possible than ever!

What were your takeaways from the game? Let us know in the comments down below!