A Statue of Liberty play-action pass play in the second quarter against Colorado State was only fitting on the night Boise State honored its legendary 2007 Fiesta Bowl team.
Quarterback Brett Rypien ran the fake late in the first half of Saturday’s 28-23 victory at Albertsons Stadium, bringing back memories of Ian Johnson’s game-winning, two-point conversion that led to a 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma. Though Rypien was sacked on the play, it served as yet another reminder of the Broncos from yesteryear, even if it was supposedly coincidental.
“Some of those things surfaced in the game,” Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin said. “(But) we weren’t trying to game plan off of nostalgia and all those things.”
All last week, the football program hyped the 10-year anniversary of the 2006 Broncos on social media with videos and tweets featuring interviews with former players and clips of the famous hook-and-ladder, halfback pass and Statue of Liberty that changed Boise State football forever.
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It was announced Tuesday that the team would wear the same uniform combination as the 2007 Fiesta Bowl (white jerseys, orange pants and throwback helmets).
Thomas Sperbeck conjured up more memories of the Fiesta Bowl in the fourth quarter. The senior wide receiver took a direct snap, rolled to his right and threw a touchdown pass to A.J. Richardson to give Boise State a 28-3 lead.
Though it wasn’t the exact play, it resembled Vinny Perretta’s touchdown pass in overtime that brought the Broncos to within a point of the Sooners. Perretta’s touchdown pass set up Ian Johnson’s game-winning run.
“I guess a little bit. It was a special night. That was pretty cool,” Sperbeck said. “That touchdown pass felt definitely good. I think we needed that.”
Members from the Fiesta Bowl champions led Saturday afternoon’s Bronco Walk, embracing current players and coaches while interacting with fans prior to the game. Former quarterback Jared Zabransky and linebacker Korey Hall served as honorary captains and joined Sam McCaskill, Ben Weaver, Sperbeck and Rypien for the coin toss.
Around 50 former players took the field at halftime to a chorus of fan applause as they watched a video documenting their triumph over the Sooners. Joining the alumni on Lyle Smith Field for the celebration was the 2007 Fiesta Bowl trophy.
“We had the helmets, we had the unis and there were a lot of players back. It was awesome to see those guys. A lot of good memories,” Harsin, who was the offensive coordinator of the 2006 Broncos, said. “You see Jared Zabransky, Korey Hall, Vinny Perretta. A lot of guys that were back here. I’m proud we won. I’m glad our guys went out there and inspired those former players by the win we had tonight.”
Even the ending of Saturday’s game resembled the 2006 season. Though that Boise State team won seven of its games by at least 24 points, those same Broncos won four games by a touchdown or less. Saturday’s wacky ending against Colorado State reminded Harsin of a hard-fought, come-from-behind 23-20 victory over San Jose State. The Broncos trailed by eight points with six minutes remaining in that game and came back to win on a last-second field goal from Anthony Montgomery.
“I remember that season and the realities of it. And you have games like this, that you have to go out there and win to have a successful year,” Harsin said. “And tonight was one of those times.”