Mistakes kill Rams as BS takes SF Bowl

Turnovers, missed tackles and penalties are a lethal combination. These factors combined to doom Colorado State to a 35-21 loss to Boston College in the 2003 Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl in front of 25,621 at Pac Bell Park.

T.J. Stancil intercepted three passes, Derrick Knight rushed for 122 yards and scored three times, while Paul Pederson threw for 224 yards at two scores as BC finished the season 8-5. CSU's second straight Bowl loss ended a disappointing season at 7-6.

It was the last game in the great career of Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, who was visibly hampered in the game by an injured throwing hand. After breaking his hand in the season finale, and having limited pre-Bowl practice time, Van Pelt did not start, but led the Rams to their only three scoring drives while also throwing three interceptions. He passed for 163 yards, and added 65 on the ground.

At the outset, it was missed tackles by the Rams defense that helped get the Eagles offense off and running. As the game progressed, turnovers began to take a toll, with the Rams throwing a total of five interceptions. Later, penalties helped quell CSU comeback attempts in the second half.

The game started ominously for CSU. BC got on the board just minutes into the game on a five yard run by Knight. After the Rams downed a punt at the BC two yard line, the Eagles marched 98 yards, capped by a 50-yard TD pass from Peterson to Larry Lester. After CSU finally started a march behind Holland, the first of three first half picks, this one by the Stancil, killed the drive and led to another Knight scoring run, and the Eagles led 21-0 with time still remaining in the first quarter.

Enter Van Pelt, who did not start the game largely because Holland took a large majority of the snaps in practice during the week preceding the game. He got the Rams on the board with a 68-yard drive that was culminated by a seven yard run from Jimmy Green. Two subsequent drives each ended in Van Pelt interceptions, but the Rams defense, after appearing out of sync and missing numerous tackles earlier, got tougher, and held the Eagles out of the end zone the rest of the half. BC took a 21-7 lead into the locker room.

Like he always seemed to do during his CSU career, Van Pelt led the Rams back into the game. With seven minutes left in the third quarter, CSU got a little closer when Van Pelt hit Anderson with a beautiful 40 yard scoring pass off an option fake that beat double coverage and pulled them within 21-14.

That would be as close as they got. With Van Pelt suffering from injuries to both hands, Holland re-entered the game, and on his first play, threw his second interception of the game. BC converted quickly on another Peterson to Lester TD strike, this one from 20 yards out, that upped the lead to 28-14 with just over 12 minutes to play.

Holland stayed in the game, but the Rams failed on a fourth and two at midfield, the Eagles took over, and Knight's 27-yard run (which included more CSU missed tackles) made it 35-14.

Van Pelt came back to lead the Rams to another score, taking it in himself from a yard away to make it 35-21, but threw his third interception late in the game that allowed BC to run out the clock and secure their third straight Bowl win.

So one of the strangest and most disappointing seasons in CSU history ended as it began, with a dishearting loss. During the course of 13 games - six of threm defeats - many questions were raised, and few answered, meaning it will be an off season that demands all of Sonny Lubick's numerous coaching talents.

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