This was not how people pictured the Justin Holland days would start.
But nobody blamed Justin Holland.
The junior quarterback, who started his first regular season football game in a losing effort this weekend at Colorado, did everything he could to win the game. Despite never leading the game and throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown, Holland kept his composure.
“He had a really good game. He had a lot of pressure on him and he was a leader out there,” said Marcus Houston a senior running back.
In Holland’s opening performance, the junior who set Colorado football passing records in high school threw for more than 400 yards, going 29 for 41. Holland became the first CSU quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards since Scooter Molander threw for 449 yards against Hawaii in 1987.
“Justin was the man out there tonight,” said senior H-back Joel Dreessen, who caught four passes for 26 yards. “He’s going to be a great quarterback. That kid was fricking amazing.”
The only visible mistake was an intercepted pass by CU linebacker Brian Iwuh, who returned the ball 31 yards for a touchdown to give CU a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. On the following drive, however, Holland kept his composure, completing 5-of-6 passes, including a 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Walker.
When the CSU defense stopped CU on the following drive, Holland led the Rams onto the field with a chance to win the game.
“I was thinking win all the way,” said head coach Sonny Lubick. “I knew if Justin got the ball at midfield, he’s going to get it down the field for us.”
Holland moved the football quickly down the field, completing passes to Dreessen and wide receivers David Anderson and Damon Morton. His final pass to Anderson set CSU up inside the 1-yard line with a chance to win the game.
“He was composed, ready to go,” Dreessen said. “That last drive says everything.”