The Most Amazing 2 1/2 Minutes In History

People will be talking about this game for years to come. The coaching, preparation and execution of two Boise State plays in particular are the talk of the nation. The #9 Broncos used them to knock off #7 Oklahoma in a wild Fiesta Bowl.

In one of the wildest finishes in college football history, Boise State shocked the world with a 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona tonight.  Ian Johnson's scamper into the end zone on a Statue of Liberty play provided the difference for Coach Chris Petersen's Broncos. 

 

On the now famous play, Boise State lined up for a two-point conversion after tying the score in the extra period.  The Broncos sent three receivers to the right side of the field.  Quarterback Jared Zabransky took the snap and fired a bullet in that direction.  All eyes went to that side of the field to locate the ball.  Only Zabransky still had it, and after patiently waiting a second, Johnson took the ball from behind Zabransky and ran untouched to the left side of the end zone.

 

When it was apparent that the Broncos had won, what happened next regarding Bronco fans can only be described as pure bedlam.  The 30,000 or so fans that had made the trip burst into tears, jumped up and down, shouted at the top of their lungs and hugged total strangers.  In Boise, those who had squeezed into bars to watch the game expressed similar emotions.  People honked their horns, high-fived each other and some went to the Idaho Statehouse steps to light off fireworks in commemoration of the historic victory.

 

Throughout most of the Bowl Championship Series game, Boise State held a commanding lead over the Sooners.  But the Broncos would end up having to work hard to earn the win.  Boise State built a quick 14-0 lead when Zabransky hit a streaking Drisan James for 49 yards then, after Mike T. Williams caused and recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession, Johnson ran it in from the two.

 

Oklahoma stormed back with a 14-play drive that culminated in a Paul Thompson to Manuel Johnson pass of eight yards to make it a 14-7 game.  The Sooners nearly drew even in the second quarter, but Marty Tadman stepped in front of a Thompson pass in the end zone to thwart the drive.  Oklahoma edged closer with a field goal at the 2:48 mark of the first half, but after an exchange of punts, Zabransky and James hooked up again.  James caught the ball on about the 25, made some nifty moves and streaked into the end zone to put Boise State up 21-10 at halftime.

 

The Broncos struck first in the second half as well, with Tadman picking off another Thompson pass and returning it 28 yards for the score.  The underdog Broncos had a 28-10 lead with 8:05 left in the third quarter.  Boise State's tough defense held on the next Oklahoma possession and was looking to deliver the knockout punch.  Instead, a poor Sooner punt bounced upfield, hitting a Bronco blocker in the back of the legs—Oklahoma ball on the 14.  Adrian Peterson's eight-yard run made Boise State pay for the mistake and closed the margin to 28-17.  Momentum had changed, and after a three and out by Boise State, the Sooners drove down the field with a combination of runs and Thompson passes.  The Bronco defense stiffened on the 11 and held Oklahoma to a Garrett Hartley field goal to make it 28-20. 

 

Back and forth the two teams went, with the defenses for both rising to the occasion.  The Broncos were two minutes and 40 seconds away from victory in their first-ever BCS game.  But this was no ordinary contest.  Fans, players, coaches and the media would soon be calling it the greatest game ever played.  With their backs against the wall on what could be their last possession, Thompson guided the Sooners down the field, passing for 64 yards and running for eight, hitting Quintin Chaney for a ten-yard pass that had been tipped at the goal line and ricocheted right into his arms.  The Sooners were within two but needed the conversion to force overtime.  On the third try (the teams took turns being penalized on the first two efforts), Thompson found Joaquin Iglesias in the left side of the end zone for the equalizer.  Oklahoma had fought all the way back from an 18-point deficit to tie.

 

Rather than run out the clock, Zabransky dropped back to pass.  The Sooners put on a considerable rush, partially obstructing Zabransky's vision.  His toss to the left sideline was easily intercepted by Marcus Walker, who skated in from 33 yards as the Sooner faithful went crazy.  They had turned an almost-sure defeat into a near-certain victory with just 62 ticks of the clock remaining.

 

But the Broncos have had a long history of coming back in the waning seconds.  Some Boise State fans likely were thinking of the 1980 I-AA National Championship game and hoping that same Bronco magic was in Glendale a little over 26 years later.  Quinton Jones returned the kickoff 22 yards and the Bronco offense raced onto the field with the clock running.  Could Zabransky bounce back from the fatal interception?  His rocket to tight end Derek Schouman clicked for 36 yards to the Oklahoma 42.  But there were only 30 seconds left.  A Larry Birdine sack of Zabransky pushed the Broncos back to midfield and Petersen was forced to burn a timeout.  Two incompletions followed, and with just 18 seconds left, this was it—fourth down and 18 from the 50.  The ball was snapped and Zabransky dropped back.  Could the Broncos come back and get the win that was theirs until just a few moments earlier?  Drisan James worked his way open on the 35, and Zabransky hit him.  Instead of going out of bounds to stop the clock as Oklahoma expected him to do, he cut towards the middle of the field.  What was he doing?  The quick Sooner defense reacted with four guys looking to crush him right there.

 

 What happened next will live in Bronco lore forever.  James lateraled to a speeding Jerard Rabb cutting across the field.  With his momentum in full swing, Rabb sped down the left sideline to the amazement of everyone, including the Sooner defense.  They wouldn't catch him until Rabb's spectacular dive into the end zone that sent Bronco fans into delirium.  The magic was there!  Those in attendance or watching the game live on television were instantly aware that it was a truly special play.   No one could believe what they had just seen. No one, however, could be prepared for the national reaction that followed. It was both overwhelming and humbling.   The Broncos had run the Hook and Lateral play to perfection.  Anthony Montgomery's extra point tied the score at 35 and sent the Fiesta Bowl into overtime.

 

Boise State won the key coin toss and Oklahoma lined up on the 25-yard line.  Star running back Adrian Peterson, who just last year finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy, took the handoff from Thompson, cut inside then squirted through the entire Bronco defense down the left sideline for a touchdown.  The Hartley point-after-touchdown advanced the score to 42-35.  Once again, it was score or else for Boise State.

 

The Broncos were able to move the ball on their possession.  Zabransky hit Schouman for passes of three and 10 yards.  Running back/receiver Vinny Perretta ran for two more, then Johnson plowed up the middle for seven.  The Broncos had a third down and one at the Sooner four.  When Johnson was caught for a yard loss, the Broncos once again were faced with a fourth down.  Perretta lined up in the backfield with three receivers to the right side.  When Zabransky stepped forward and went in motion, the Sooners sensed a Perretta run.  He took the snap and spurted to the right side behind the three blocking Bronco receivers.  At the last minute, he pulled up and Schouman bounced off a couple of Sooners into the clear.  Perretta arched a lob to the back of the end zone, Schouman caught it for his eighth catch of the night and the Broncos had matched the Oklahoma score in overtime.

 

Then, Bronco Coach Petersen did something that made every fan's heart stop.  Rather than tie the game, he sent out his offense for a two-point conversion!  He really wasn't going to do this, was he?  When Oklahoma called time out, many in the crowd expected the Bronco special teams unit to trot out on the field.  But after the television official cleared the way for play to began, it was Zabransky and company that once again took the field.  In this wild back and forth game, this was it!

 

Bronco and Sooner fans held their breath.  No doubt there were thousands of prayers being said at that moment.  The Broncos once again sent three receivers to the right side.  Zabransky took the snap, starting events into motion that would rock the world. 

 

No less than 37 points would be scored in the game's final two-and-a-half minutes.  Many experts called it the best college football game in history.  The three trick plays would later be called "The Immaculate Deception".  The unbelievable Boise State Broncos had defeated Oklahoma 43-42.

 

 

Nothing will ever be the same.


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