After a 20-19 gut-wrenching loss to New Mexico (5-4, 3-2) Saturday night, it’s safe to say the Rams (4-4, 1-3) have covered the bases when it comes to different ways to lose a football game.
UNM senior kick Kenny Byrd’s game-winning field goal as time expired capped off a three-game losing streak for the Rams in which they have blown an 18-point lead at halftime, got shutout by their arch rival and now lost on the last play of the game to a team they probably should have beat.
The Rams now find themselves ahead of only the lowly Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels in the Mountain West Conference standings with only one conference win in four tries.
Special teams undoubtedly played a factor in the Rams one-point loss in which the team missed a field goal and failed to convert an extra point in the second half.
After a sensational one-handed diving touchdown catch by junior wide receiver Damon Morton, junior punter Jimmy Kaylor mishandled the snap on the Rams’ extra point attempt, failing to increase the team’s lead to ten points.
“It was all on me,” said an emotional Kaylor in a quiet CSU locker room after the game. “Everything was there – no rush – it’s my fault we’re not still playing in overtime right now.”
If any Ram can relate to Kaylor’s situation, it is fellow special-teamer Smith.
Smith missed a field goal against Air Force two weeks ago in a game that was decided by three points.
“We know the importance of our play,” Smith said. “We both get two or three (plays) a game. We know what it takes. It requires a lot of mental toughness, just like any other position, but it is different. When I get off the field we can talk about what happened and what we do next time to learn from it.”
Much can be said about the missed extra point, but senior offensive lineman Clint
Oldenberg feels the offense is responsible for the defeat.
“We didn’t lose on that play. The offense lost it when it got the ball back with five minutes left in the game and couldn’t get a first down,” he said. “With that missed extra point, we still had an opportunity to win the game. All we needed was one first down. We didn’t even gain a yard, we lost two.”
Despite leading for all but one second in the fourth quarter, the Rams managed only two rushes for one negative yard in the final fifteen minutes of the game, which was indicative of their season-long struggle to run the football.
After a Kaylor punt with less than four minutes left in the game, New Mexico redshirt freshman quarterback Donovan Porterie led his team on a 10-play, 63-yard drive to the CSU 16-yardline to set up Byrd with a 33-yard attempt to win the game.
Despite the will of an enthusiastic CSU student section, Byrd’s kick was essentially good even before the ball was snapped.
The former walk-on has now made 22 straight field goals inside 40 yards. Even though Kaylor may carry the team’s best chance at an all-conference selection, he admits the dropped snap may linger in his head into the future.
“It’s going to be hard to forget,” he said. “I feel like I lost it.”
Football beat writer Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.