SAN DIEGO Just days before Saturday night's game with San Diego State, Boise State junior kicker Dan Goodale told reporters how much better prepared he was for a game-winning kick than for his last chance.
"If we get that opportunity," Goodale said Wednesday, "I feel like I'll be successful and I've got a really good shot of putting it through. We always visualize and dream about having game-winning kicks or a long kick for a game winner. Hopefully we don't need to have that, but if we do, I think I can be successful."
On Saturday, Goodale got his shot. To boot a game-winner. To keep Boise State's Mountain West championship game hopes alive. To write a new ending.
A wild back-and-forth game between Boise State and San Diego State had come down to this - a 43-yard field goal for Goodale from the left hashmark with 3 seconds remaining in regulation.
There was every reason to have faith in Goodale's chances of making the field goal.
He had made 12 consecutive field goals this year. He ranked No. 13 in the country in field goal percentage at 92.3 percent. He made a career-long 47-yarder against Wyoming in a blowout victory in the previous game.
No one was asking him about 2011 anymore. No one wanted to talk about the game-winning 39-yard field goal that he missed at the end of regulation in the Broncos' loss to TCU.
"I haven't been reminded of it, obviously, with my recent success. I'm OK with talking about it. People ask me what it was like. I'm OK sharing that experience with them because I've learned so much from it," Goodale said Wednesday.
And so he trotted out there Saturday night with a chance to give Boise State a survival victory - and a chance to retain its control of the Mountain West's Mountain Division.
The offense had struggled for most of the night and had given San Diego State a gift touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a Grant Hedrick interception. The defense, though it held up well, had surrendered too many third- and fourth-down conversions. Special teams had faltered late by allowing a punt return touchdown.
But a 47-yard catch-and-run by Jay Ajayi had given the Broncos one more shot, and an 11-yard pass from Hedrick to Miller had moved them into position.
"I just tried to make a big-time play for my team, just tried to put us in a good position and then leave it up to Dan," Ajayi said.
Said coach Chris Petersen: "We still had chances. We had a chance to make a field goal."
It lacked the drama of Kyle Brotzman's kick in 2010 at Nevada - when an undefeated season and a likely Rose Bowl berth hung in the balance. It lacked the drama of Goodale's missed kick in 2011 against TCU - when an undefeated season and a potential spot in the national championship game hung in the balance.
This one didn't involve the BCS.
It even lacked the drama of Michael Frisina's game-winner in last year's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Frisina's kick was true, giving the Broncos a win against Washington.
But still it was important. There was plenty on the line.
"All the confidence in the world. I thought he was going to drill it," Hedrick said.
Instead, Goodale hooked the kick. It never really had a chance. It was wide left the whole way. Replays indicated the laces faced Goodale.
"The snap was a little bit low and it's all got to be just right," Petersen said.
Goodale made a 35-yarder minutes later in overtime, but it was too late. San Diego State scored a touchdown just moment later, handing the Broncos their fourth regular-season loss.
There are so many moments to pin this loss to, so many mistakes and miscues and missed chances. But it did also come down to a kick.
Another kick sailing wide.
Another opportunity lost for the Broncos.
An all-too-familiar feeling for Boise State.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444