In one of the most dramatic editions of the Rocky Mountain Showdown ever to come to Denver, the CSU Rams lost in an overtime heartbreaker to the CU Buffalos Saturday, 31-28.
The Rams got the ball to open overtime, quickly moving it to the 9-yard-line after a 14-yard run by Kyle Bell. On third and goal quarterback Caleb Hanie scrambled out to the right and looked for senior tight end Kory Sperry in the back of the end zone. Sperry collided with teammate Johnny Walker and the rushed throw was intercepted by CU’s Terrence Wheatley.
“(Hanie) tried to make a play. In hindsight, the best thing you can do is throw it in the stands,” said coach Sonny Lubick after the game. “You should never have a pass intercepted if your quarterback throws it in the stands.”
As mandated by collegiate overtime rules, the Buffs took the ball on CSU’s 25-yard line for their next possession, using three plays to set up the eventual game winning field goal by CU’s Kevin Eberhart.
The Rams held a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and were able to hold off the Buffs offense for most of the fourth.
With 2:08 left in the half, CU took the ball on the CSU 34, following a 43-yard punt return by CU’s Chase McBride. The Buffs drove all the way down to the CSU 5 when a third down pass from freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins was knocked to the turf by CSU linebacker Jake Pottorff. The stop set up a 22-yard field goal attempt from CU kicker Kevin Everhart with 0:11 left, sailing right down the middle and sending the game into overtime.
Earlier in the half the Rams looked in control, scoring two quick touchdowns to go up by 11 with ten minutes left in the third quarter.
On the opening drive of the second half, Hanie hit tight end Kory Sperry with a 37-yard touchdown pass. The throw capped a seven play, 77 yard scoring drive for the Rams. The catch was Sperry’s third touchdown of the game, the most touchdown catches for a CSU player since Dustin Osborn three years ago.
Immediately following that drive, CSU’s Jermaine Walters recovered a kickoff that bounced off Colorado’s RJ Brown, giving CSU possession at the Colorado 47-yard line. The recovery gave CSU a short field to work and after quarterback Caleb Hanie hit Kory Sperry up the middle for a gain of 22 yards, Kyle Bell took a handoff off the right side for a 13-yard scamper into the end zone. The run was the Ram’s second touchdown in less than five minutes.
The Buffs answered the quick 14-point turnaround, taking the ball on their own 14-yard line and proceeding to march the length of the field, finishing the 14-play, 5:55 drive with a Demetrius Sumner 3-yard rushing touchdown. To bring the game within three, CU elected to go for two, connecting on a pass in the flat to Riar Geer for the conversion.
The first half wasn’t short on scoring, either. Both teams scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions in the first half, taking turns tying the game and taking the lead. It was the only scoring in the first half until the very end, when CU hit a long field goal before the horn.
“From where I was standing that seemed like a hard-fought football game by two team that seemed fairly evenly matched and it was back and forth all day long. I’m proud of out football team. They played hard. They did everything they could,” said Lubick. “In our business it comes down to one false step, a little of this, a little of that. I just want to give credit to CU and Cody Hawkins. I thought he was pretty special today. We had momentum in the third quarter, but we just couldn’t hold it. The kids played their hearts out as hard as they could possibly play.”
Rushing – Bell 40 carries for 135 yards and 1 touchdown; Hanie 11 carries for 11 yards, Johnson 3 carries for 11 yards
Passing – Hanie 20-27, 229 yards, 3 touchdowns
Receiving – Sperry 8 receptions for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns, Walker 5 receptions for 74 yards, Bell 2 receptions for 16 yards, Roberts 3 receptions for 22 yards, Morton 1 reception for 12 yards
Defensive – Kubiack 8 tackles, Galusha 3 tackles, Pottoroff 6 tackles and 1 fumble recovery, Juedes 1 tackle, Pagnotta 8 tackles, Horinek 7 tackles
Rushing – Williams 2 carries for 24 yards, Sumler 16 carries for 85 yards, Ellis 3 carries for 4 yards
Passing – Hawkins 18-31, 201 yards and 2 touchdowns, 1 INT
Receiving – McKnight 8 receptions for 106 yards and 1 touchdown, Charles 1 reception for 15 yards, DeVree 1 reception for 10 yards and 1 touchdown, Williams 5 receptions for 59 yards
Defensive – Dizon 20 tackles, Walters 10 tackles, Burney 6 tackles, Hypolite 10 tackles, Brown 10 tackles
Weather conditions: Partly cloudy 75 degrees, wind NW 3 mph