CSU football falls just short of reclaiming Bronze Boot from Wyoming

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Collegian | Gregory James

Colorado State University tight end Peter Montini (44) runs after catching a pass against the University of Wyoming Nov. 12. The Rams lost the annual Border War 14-13.

Kaden Porter, Staff Reporter

Colorado State University football hosted the University of Wyoming in their annual Border War rivalry game in Canvas Stadium Nov. 12. Both teams fought hard for control of the Bronze Boot trophy, but it was the Cowboys who claimed victory, winning 14-13.

It was the 114th game in the history of the Border War rivalry, which CSU still leads 59-50-5. CSU last won the rivalry at home in 2020; Wyoming won 31-17 last year in Laramie, Wyoming.

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“This game was probably the hardest loss I’ve ever had playing football, ever. It just hurts because we had it in our grasp and we were only a couple of plays away.” -Henry Blackburn, CSU football safety

CSU’s defense and special teams led the charge to begin the game.

After Wyoming went three-and-out to open the game, Tory Horton returned their first punt for a 72-yard touchdown to give the Rams an early 7-0 lead. It was the first punt return touchdown in the rivalry series since at least 2000.

On Wyoming’s second offensive drive, CSU safety Henry Blackburn grabbed his first collegiate interception to give the Rams the ball back. 

“This game was probably the hardest loss I’ve ever had playing football, ever,” Blackburn said. “It just hurts because we had it in our grasp and we were only a couple of plays away.”

CSU opened the second quarter with a 40-yard Michael Boyle field goal to extend their lead to 10-0. Toward the end of the quarter, Wyoming finally found an offensive rhythm and marched down the field to score a touchdown and shrink CSU’s lead to 10-7. 

With seconds remaining in the first half, Horton nearly found the end zone on a 40-yard catch and run, but he was knocked out of bounds at the three-yard line as time expired.

After CSU opened the second half with a punt, Wyoming missed an opportunity to tie the game after kicker John Hoyland missed a 37-yard field goal wide right to cap off a long drive. CSU responded with a lengthy drive of their own that ended with a 23-yard field goal, extending their lead to 13-7 early in the fourth quarter.

The Rams’ defense forced the Cowboys to punt on their responding drive, but Horton muffed the ball and Wyoming recovered it in CSU territory. Wyoming took advantage of the opportunity, scoring a touchdown on a 32-yard catch by Alex Brown to take their first lead of the game, 14-13.

CSU managed to make their way down the field on the following drive, but Boyle missed a 40-yard field goal attempt. Wyoming responded by running down the clock, punting back to the Rams with just under a minute left in the game. CSU was unable to reach scoring position, and Wyoming escaped with the win.

“The first month of the season, I couldn’t really feel this team at all,” Norvell said. “I was very frustrated with the lack of response, emotionally and effort-wise from our football team. I don’t feel that way anymore. These kids are really giving us all they’ve got. (I’m) very proud of their effort.”

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Quarterback Jayden Clemons came in for Wyoming after starter Andrew Peasley went down with an early injury. He completed seven of just 11 attempts as Wyoming instead focused on running the ball.

For Colorado State, running back Avery Morrow recorded another 100+ yard rushing game, racking up 104 yards on 22 carries. Horton also had a strong game despite the muffed punt, catching eight passes for 168 yards on top of his punt return touchdown.

“Tory (Horton) has been outstanding, and he’s broken-hearted in that locker room right now,” Norvell said.

CSU’s record falls to 2-8 overall, 2-4 in conference play. They’ll travel south to Colorado Springs next weekend to take on the 7-3 United States Air Force Academy Nov. 19.

“(This game is) going to stick with me until we get to play them again,” Norvell said. “It’s a great rivalry.”

Reach Kaden Porter at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @kqporter5.