Remembering Hughes: Goal posts parade down Elizabeth Street

Collegian Sports

The 1994 Colorado State Rams might have been the best CSU football team to take the field at Hughes Stadium. They finished the year 10-2 with a trip to the Holiday Bowl in which they lost to Michigan 24-14.

To get to the bowl, the Rams needed an improbable comeback against Wyoming. Following the win, fans famously strolled down Elizabeth Street with both goal posts.

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That Saturday night will always be remembered for the posts’ trip down Elizabeth, with the ultimate goal being to bring them 3.2 miles to campus.

The post carriers got tired, however, and nestled a post into the old C.B. & Potts location. From there, the post was cut into pieces and given away. One piece was kept by the restaurant and it can still be seen hanging on the wall of their new Foothills Mall location.

The Collegian Sports Desk’s next Hughes memory is the story that captured the comeback leading up to the chaos.

Rams renew shot at Holiday Bowl

Originally published on Nov. 7, 1994

By Joel Cantalamessa

Between the post-game sheets of statistics and game summaries in the press box after the Border War was a brochure for the beautiful city of San Diego.

That’s right, Colorado State University is back in the Holiday Bowl race after posting an incredible come-from-behind victory over Wyoming in a game that didn’t end until the wee hours of Sunday morning.

The Rams scored 28 points in the second half and rallied to win 35-24 in front of an ESPN nationally-televised audience and 35,514 Hughes Stadium crazies – the third-largest crowd in CSU history.

The Rams’ Holiday Bowl hopes were revived earlier Saturday when New Mexico knocked off Utah, the Western Athletic Conference leader, about four hours before kickoff at Hughes Stadium. The team was whooping and hollering when they heard the news during a pregame dinner and were sky-high all the way to the stadium.

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The Rams ran onto the field to the roar of a deafening crowd just before 9 p.m., but by the middle of the third quarter, the fans were silent and the only place the Rams were running was after Wyoming running back Ryan Christopherson. Christopherson, who rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter alone, had the CSU defense baffled all game and collected 151 yards by the game’s conclusion.

Although the Cowboys were criticized for their poor effort in their loss to Air Force just a week earlier, this was the Border War, and there was no doubt they would be ready to take revenge on the team that ruined their Holiday Bowl hopes last year.

“We came out a little bit flat today and they jumped out on us, but we came back,” Sean Moran, CSU defensive end, said.

Quarterback Anthoney Hill agreed. “We were disgusted with how we were playing, but we never gave up,” he said.

Down 24-7, CSU faced a fourth-and-seven situation from their own 33-yard line. The Rams lined up to punt their WAC title hopes away. However, on the snap, punter Matt McDougal received the snap and looked to pass.

He calmly found a wide-open Andre Strode and launched a 35-yard completion to Wyoming’s 32-yard line to turn the whole game around. Wyoming was then penalized twice for pass interference, and one play later Van Ward scored on a two-yard leap. The fake punt was the difference in the game.

“I hate to take the credit for that…but I will,” coach Sonny Lubick said. “I was just thi
nking at that point ‘we have to do something or we’re done.’”

But it worked and the Rams weren’t done. They were just beginning.

On the first play of Wyoming’s next drive, CSU defensive end Brady Smith nailed Christopherson, jarring the ball loose with Kareem Ingram recovered on Wyoming’s 20-yard line. Just three plays later, Hill completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Burkett for CSU’s second touchdown in 1:02. McDougal nailed the point-after attempt and the Rams trailed 24-21.

The Rams had the whole fourth quarter left and life was restored at Hughes Stadium. Sacks by Steve Hodge and DeVaughn Hawkins sparked the defense, forcing Wyoming to punt on their following possession. Hill then conducted an 83-yard drive, capped by a 28-yard touchdown pass to Olsen.

The score gave CSU the lead for good. They later scored again on a two-yard touchdown run for a final of 35-24. The win boosted the Rams to 8-1, 6-1 in the WAC and dropped the Cowboys to 4-6, 2-4.

“I thought we played hard,” Wyoming coach Joe Tiller said. “But like I told the team after the game, you have to be able to finish off an opponent. We were unable to do that. You have to give CSU a lot of credit for coming back.”

But before CSU finally woke up, Wyoming was having its way on both offense and defense. Wyoming scored its third touchdown of the game on John Gustin’s 13-yard pass to Marcus Harris to push its lead to 24-7 with just 5:19 to go in the third quarter.

Even when the Rams had opportunities to score, they gave them away. First, McDougal had a 32-yard field goal attempt blocked and then Renard Carn fumbled at Wyoming’s 15-yard line. When the Rams were faced with fourth-and-seven on the ensuing drive, their hopes looked bleak. Many fans headed for the exits.

But that’s when McDougal converted the fake punt and caused many departing fans who were listening to the game in their cars to shift in reverse.

“That was the biggest play of the game, of the year actually,” wide receiver Eric Olsen said.

The win vaulted the Rams to 10 in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls. There were also many other highlights Saturday night.

Olsen caught three passes for 120 yards, Jeremy Burkett collected 131 total yards on reverses and big catches, Hodge collected two of the team’s four sacks and Hill surpassed Kelly Stouffer to become the school’s all-time leader in total offense. Also Saturday night’s crowd boosted the new season attendance record to 163,603, surpassing the 1990 record of 159,461.

But the Rams main feat Saturday night was not giving up when everything was going against them.

“(The backups) were grabbing the starters when they came off the field shaking them ‘don’t get your heads down, keep playing,’” Lubick said. “When you have all that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of togetherness, you always have a chance.”

Collegian sports desk can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @RMCollegianSpts