After being down as much as 24-7 at one point on Saturday against San Jose State University, the CSU football team came roaring back to tie it at 31 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
And each of the Ramsâ€™ next two drives started inside SJSU (2-3) territory with a chance for CSU to take the lead.
Both times CSU (3-2, 1-0 MW) failed to move the ball and put points on the board.
â€œThose killed us. Those were the game,â€ said quarterback Pete Thomas. â€œWe punch one of those in, two of those in, which we should do as an offense, and we win the game.â€
The first golden opportunity came when Shaquil Barrett stripped the ball from the quarterback and Davis Burl recovered the fumble to give CSU the ball at the SJSU 45.
But Thomas was sacked on the first play of the drive. He threw incomplete on second down before connecting for a seven-yard gain on a pass to Joe Brown on third down, but CSU was still seven yards short of a first down and had to punt.
The second of the two late drives began when cornerback Momo Thomas returned a punt to the SJSU 34. But the Rams were only able to gain three yards before attempting a field goal.
Kicker Ben DeLine lined up for what would have been a career-long 48-yard kick. It missed just wide left.
â€œIt was a great snap, great hold. I take every ounce of that miss on my own shoulders,â€ DeLine said. â€œThat was my fault for missing that. (Long snapper) Tanner (Hedstrom) got it back there, (holder) Matt (Yemm) got it down. Then the kicker missed.â€
After the miss, SJSU got the ball at its own 30. Quarterback Matt Faulkner helped move the ball to the CSU 38, where SJSU was faced with a third and one.
Instead of going short for the first down, receiver Jabari Carr ran a deep fade route that beat cornerback Shaq Bell for the game-winning touchdown with just under a minute remaining.
â€œI was thinking they were going to run a hitch or a fade,â€ Bell said. â€œSo I ran with him, they just threw a good fade and he beat me.â€
â€œI honestly think it was just a great play,â€ Momo Thomas said. â€œThird and three your thinking (first down) sticks, something short. But they went with a fade on the press side. They beat us on it.â€
A last-gasp comeback effort fell short when Thomas had a Hail Mary pass intercepted with seven seconds left in the game.
â€œI donâ€™t think we all stepped up as a team,â€ Momo Thomas said. â€œJust like when we were down at CU. That last drive we have to find a way to get the ball out of get the ball out as a defense.
Offense, we have to find a way to score. As a team we didnâ€™t step up and make that big extra play that we needed.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.
- Average starting position: SJSU 39.5 yard line
- Yards gained: three on first drive, four on second
- Total points: 0