It wasn’t CSU vs. CU at Invesco Field at Mile High – but it was close.
After a day of big plays, a last-minute finish and enough trash talk to last an entire season, the Rams had quite a finish to spring practice.
With 58 seconds remaining in the game and the Green team trailing Gold 21-19, Matt Rupp recovered a fumble on the Green’s 39-yard line. Backup quarterback Billy Farris then completed a 58-yard pass to receiver George Hill on first down, setting up a 19-yard game-winning field goal.
A final Hail Mary from Gold quarterback Caleb Hanie fell incomplete, leaving the score at 22-21 and sending a wave of bragging Green jerseys to the Gold sideline.
“There’s always a rivalry during the spring game,” said safety Mike Pagnotta, who played for Green. “Now that we got the win, we get to rub it in their faces all year.”
From the first snap to the winning kick, the spring game was packed with big offensive plays and clutch forced turnovers for the defense.
Hanie opened the game for Gold, marching 80 yards down the field and capping it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Luke Roberts. Hanie ended the day with 208 yards and two touchdowns.
“(Hanie) played well, he made the team move well,” said head coach Sonny Lubick. “We were happy with his performance.”
Hanie’s success at throwing the football opened up running lanes for sophomore running back Kyle Bell. Just before the close of the first quarter, Bell was at midseason form, exploding for a 52-yard touchdown run that put Gold up 14-0.
“I think when people see Caleb and his size, they are going to think we’re a team that runs the football a lot, but he is just as capable with his arm,” Bell said. “That’s why we’re going to be so dangerous. We came out firing and that made them give us an extra step – that’s when you get the big plays.”
And the first quarter was only the beginning of big plays. Early in the second quarter, third-string quarterback Grant Stucker hit Hill on the sideline on a 54-yard touchdown pass for the Green team. Gold answered on the following drive with a 52-yard pass from Hanie to receiver Damon Morton that put Gold up 21-7.
“We lost a lot of good players from last year,” said Morton, who finished as Gold’s top receiver with 96 yards. “For us to come out here and make plays really gives us confidence for next season.”
With bragging rights and a few rumored free dinners among the teammates, the Green team rallied from a 21-12 deficit at the half, scoring 10 unanswered points for the win. Hill, who led the Green team with 150 receiving yards and one touchdown, couldn’t suppress his excitement.
“We will only lose one game next year,” Hill said. “We are way more confident this year than last. I want to go to a BCS bowl, and I think we have the team to do it.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.