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Recap: Toledo survives Hail Mary in wild late-night finish at Colorado State, 41-35

Both teams’ RBs go for 200+, but the game comes down to a Hail Mary just yards shy of the goal line.

NCAA Football: Toledo at Colorado State Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Two seconds remained on the clock. Patrick O’Brien handled the snap and fired a pass toward the end zone, caught by wide receiver E.J. Scott. O’Brien needed 25 but Scott was 23 yards deep. Scott then “fumbled” the ball forward in effort to re-create Ken Stabler’s famous Holy Roller play. The Rams recovered but the awaiting Rocket defenders protected the end zone and ensured there would be no touchdown.

Toledo won by stuffing Colorado State’s Hail Mary attempt on the 2-yard line, but that wasn’t the only time it occurred in Fort Collins on Saturday night. The play immediately before the half, O’Brien lobbed a ball to wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers. It was completed, but Toledo stopped the Rams at the two. Thus, the wild finish was a chaotic, classic déjà vu moment. Thanks to those stops, Toledo (2-1) escaped Colorado State (1-3), 41-35 in a late-night thriller.

In a game which ran concurrent with UCLA’s 32-point comeback and 67-63 upset win over Washington State, the Colorado State-Toledo game had no shortage of unimaginable sequences as well. After the Rockets stopped the Rams short of the goal line to enter halftime, the offenses entered a bizarre arms race in the third quarter. Five touchdowns were scored by the 8:39 mark of the period, and every one of those scoring drives was from over 70 yards.

Toledo running back Bryant Koback sprinted for a score from 37 yards out. Then Colorado State running back Marvin Kinsey Jr. responded by doubling that and rushing for a 74-yard touchdown. The ensuing play from scrimmage, Koback amped it up and dashed for a 75-yard touchdown.

Trailing 28-20, Colorado State slowed things down by going down the field in six plays instead of one, two, or three. Kinsey fueled the drive with a 26-yard rush and finished it off with a 14-yard touchdown run. But Toledo wasn’t finished answering. Koback went back-to-back-to-back with a 47-yard scamper to put the Rockets up 35-27.

All five of those touchdowns happened in a span of 17 plays and 6:21 of clock time. By the time 1:59 was off the clock in the quarter, the teams combined for 221 rushing yards. Over those 17 plays, 310 rushing yards were recorded in total.

Koback finished with 228 yards on 19 attempts with a hat trick of touchdowns. Kinsey managed 246 on 23 carries with a pair of scores. Toledo quarterback Mitchell Guadagni even added 119 of his own and the Rockets’ secondary back Shakif Seymour contributed 70 yards on the ground. Toledo won the ground battle, 436-289, averaging 9.5 yards per carry in the process compared to Colorado State’s 8.0.

After the scoring barrage subsided, special teams played a key factor in determining the winner. Colorado State shanked a 35-yard field goal. Then, Guadagni continued to call his own number on the following possession to run clock off, carrying the team to three points and a two-score lead on an Evan Davis field goal.

The Rams, decked in their green and orange alternate uniforms, ended up flying down the field in less than two minutes. O’Brien reached across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run and completed a pass to Dante Wright for an easy 2-point conversion.

Toledo’s final possession required a bit of a gamble. Facing a 4th-and-1 on their own 45, the Rockets elected to run it around the right edge with Seymour. All that was needed was one yard but Seymour picked up 35 to set up another Davis field goal with 31 seconds remaining.

O’Brien nearly led Colorado State on a 75-yard scoring drive by finding open receivers for decent gains, but his pass to Scott near the goal line was perfectly defended by the Rockets, resulting in Toledo’s first FBS win of the season.