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Hawaii ends CSU’s football season in heartbreaking fashion

Colorado+State+University+Wide+Receiver+Tory+Horton+runs+the+ball
Collegian | Michael Marquardt
Colorado State University wide receiver Tory Horton (14) runs the ball during the football game against the University of Hawaii at Manoa Oct. 22, 2022. CSU won 17-13.

Jay Norvell and the Colorado State football team took their final game of the 2023 season to Hawaii, where they faced off against the Rainbow Warriors. The Rams had an important task at hand against Hawaii, as they would be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2017 with a win in the books.

Unfortunately for Ram fans, they were unable to finish the season with a win and a chance to compete in a bowl game. They fell to Hawaii 27-24 to cap off the 2023 season.

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CSU saw themselves down for the majority of the game but crawled back in the fourth quarter. Down by two scores, Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi led his offense into Rainbow Warrior territory and found Louis Brown IV in the end zone for their first score since the first quarter of the game. Norvell chose to go for two points to bring the score to 18-24, but the offense was unable to convert, and the Rams saw themselves down by eight.

In their next drive, the Rams were able to get into field goal range and potentially bring the deficit closer, but Jordan Noyes wasn’t able to finish a 53-yard field through the uprights. The missed field goal ended up being a crucial loss for the Rams.

It became intensely close to the end of regulation when the Tory Horton show made an appearance.

On fourth down with 8 yards to the sticks — 54 seconds left and the hopes of the season banking on one final play — the Rams relied on the core players they have turned to all season. Needing eight points to tie the game, Fowler-Nicolosi tossed a dime to his favorite target, Horton, who took a 70-yard touchdown to the house to make it a 24-22 game with less than one minute on the clock.

Needing a two-point conversion to tie the game and keep the bowl game hopes alive, Fowler-Nicolosi found Horton yet again in the corner of the end zone to convert the extra points and secure the comeback.

The offense did its job, but the CSU defense needed to step up and have their moment in the game. CSU needed to stop Hawaii before they could get anywhere near field goal range and give themselves a shot in overtime to overcome an incredible comeback to solidify a remarkable season.

However, Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager led his team against a motivated CSU defense and maintained a sense of momentum as the Warriors drove downfield during the final seconds of the game.

With only a few seconds left, Schager got his team into field goal range, and Hawaii kicker Matthew Shipley delivered a perfect kick to end the game and the hopes of a bowl game for CSU and its fans.

Despite the heartbreaking loss to end the season, Norvell and his team made a huge leap in 2023. The team was able to pull themselves out of adversity and created a multitude of moments for their fans this season.

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CSU is in to bounce back in big fashion during the 2024 season when they kick off the year Aug. 31, 2024, in Texas.

Reach Ben Fairly at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @benjaminfairly.

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