Chadd Cripe

Analysis: This Boise State football team won over its fan base with amazing comeback

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin on 'unforgettable' win over Colorado State

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin discusses the Broncos' 59-52 overtime win at Colorado State on Nov. 11, 2017.
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Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin discusses the Broncos' 59-52 overtime win at Colorado State on Nov. 11, 2017.

Twitter can be a harsh place full of instant judgments and rash overreactions — and particularly so when sports are involved.

When the inspired Colorado State football team smacked Boise State in the opening minutes Saturday night, taking a 28-3 lead, there were questions from fans about the Broncos’ toughness, focus and preparation.

Four hours later, after a comeback that those who stayed awake to witness will never forget, the Broncos had erased any doubts about their fortitude with a 59-52, overtime victory.

[More game coverage: A historic, 'unforgettable' comeback; Mattison breaks school record, Harsin gets contract extension; how the onside kick worked]

Whatever the 2017 Broncos do the rest of the season, there shouldn’t be any questioning of this team’s commitment. These players proved themselves on Saturday night — and fans went to Twitter to rave about them.

After two months of skepticism and, at times, frustration with the 2017 Broncos, there was an outpouring of appreciation.

“Kids that played their hearts out,” fan Jolene Lema posted on Twitter. “They never said die, never gave up and proved to Bronco Nation anything is possible.”

The Broncos were down 35-10 in the first half and, after having the ball with a chance to take the lead in the third quarter, were down 52-38 late in the fourth quarter. But quarterback Brett Rypien drove the Broncos 75 yards in 74 seconds for a touchdown, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson recovered a gorgeous onside kick and Rypien took the Broncos 45 yards in 43 seconds for the typing score.

Sophomore tailback Alexander Mattison, who left the game at least twice with injuries, scored on the first possession of overtime for a 59-52 lead. He finished with 242 rushing yards, the third-most in school history, on just 23 carries (10.5 yards per carry). He scored three times.

The exhausted Broncos defense, which allowed 570 yards after carrying the team much of the season, responded with a fumble recovery to end the game. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who also exited with an injury at one point, forced the fumble and cornerback Tyler Horton recovered. Horton, whose high school position coach died earlier in the day, struggled in the first half to handle Colorado State star receiver Michael Gallup but largely shut him down in the second half.

Perhaps nobody embodied this game better than Wilson, who was playing with a brace on his upper left arm and came in and out of the game all night. The Broncos’ star receiver dropped a touchdown pass in the first quarter, missed a couple other balls he normally would catch during the middle of the game and dropped another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Every time he crashed to the turf, you could see the pain. But there was Wilson catching the onside kick along the sideline to give the Broncos their chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Wilson finished with three catches for 73 yard on 11 targets — numbers that he certainly won’t like.

But when his team needed a play, he was there to deliver.

“It was awesome to see our guys just keep fighting,” special teams coach Kent Riddle said. “To be such a team deal and have so many guys really contribute to that win, that was probably the most fun thing about the night.”

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