WOODY PAIGE email@example.com
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
LOCAL & STATE
Shedeur Sanders and the Buffaloes beget the penultimate parable-producing 98yard “The Drive’’ comeback in Colorado’s football folklore. The ultimate “The Drive’’ of 98 yards by John Elway and the Broncos occurred 36 years ago. Bizarrely, both would tie games, and the Broncs and the Buffs would win in overtimes. Sanders now is in the same sentence with Elway. Elway’s epic “The Drive’’ in the AFC Championship game Jan. 11, 1987, in Cleveland would result in a 5-yard passing touchdown to wide receiver Mark Jackson and an extra point kick, tying the Browns at 20, with 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Then Elway would lead the Broncos to a victorious field goal five minutes, 48 seconds into the extra period and to the Super Bowl. Sanders’ equally extraordinary “The Drive’’ in the Rocky Mountain Showdown Sept. 17, 2023, in Boulder would conclude with a 45-yard catch-and-run play to wide receiver Jimmy Horn Jr. for a touchdown followed by a two-point conversion throw to tight end Michael Harrison, tying Colorado State with 38 seconds on the clock. After Sanders and Rams quarterback Brayden Fowler-nicolosi passed for touchdowns in the first O.T., Shedeur, son of Coach Prime, hit Harrison for an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second bonus possession. Sanders completed his last two-point, pinpoint pass for a 43-35 lead. Brayden Fowler-nicolosi’s desperation 4th-and-18 attempt for a touchdown was intercepted by CU safety Trevor Woods. End zone endgame. Before the 21-year-old Shedeur was born, his dad Deion and Elway, both football Hall of Famers and professional baseball players (The Duke in the minors, Prime Time in the majors), were on opposite sides twice in the NFL. In 1994 the 49ers beat the Broncos 42-19, and Sanders intercepted Elway. In 1998 the Broncos defeated Sanders’ Cowboys 42-23, and Elway threw for a touchdown and ran once past cornerback Sanders for another score. So weirdly enough, Deion Sanders and John Elway were celebrating victories Sunday. The Broncos’ organization was recognizing the 25th anniversary of that 1998 team’s second Super Bowl championship during the game with the Commanders. And Coach Prime still was celebrating the Saturday night-sunday morning triumph over the Rams to go 3-0 as a rookie Power 5 conference head coach. The 78 points the Buffs and the Rams combined to scored at Folsom Field was five fewer than the last time they met in 2019 when CU won over CSU 52-31, and 83 was the highest total in the 93 games of the fierce in-state rivalry. In the series that began 130 years ago Colorado now holds a 69-22-2 advantage. CSU probably deserved to win instead of losing for the series’ sixth straight game, but the Rams were undone by the Shedeur second half performance, his engineering of the 98-yard drive to tie the score at 28 and his two-overtime success with two touchdowns. Also, the Rams decimated themselves with penalties, mostly because of the major variety. The Rams, 23 1/2 -point underdogs, went from being up 14-7, 21-14, 28-17 to being down at the conclusion after midnight in the most amazing game the two ever have played. CSU sophomore quarterback Fowler-nicolosi, who coach Jay Norvell elevated to starter last week, was just as prolific and productive as Sanders. Fowler-nicolosi finished with 34 of 47 completions for 367 yards and three touchdowns. However, he suffered three picks, including on his last throw and another on an 80-yard interception touchdown run by safety Shilo Sanders, who is, of course, also Deion’s son. Sanders said afterward he would be attending church later Sunday morning. Shedeur, who continues to be a viable candidate for the Heisman Trophy, wound up 38 of 47 in passing for 348 yards and four touchdowns, with his only interception in three games. The junior QB has thrown for 1,251 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now he and the Buffs have a fresh and difficult challenge — Pac-12 conference games. But first, they will enjoy 124 points of pleasure on offense, although the defense has permitted 91 points against TCU, NU, and CSU. Despite the rally, the Buffaloes dropped one place in the AP poll to 19 while rising to 19th in the coaches’ poll. Quack, quack. Colorado must travel to Oregon, ranked 10th with a 3-0 mark, for a Saturday afternoon game. Also ahead are USC (5th overall in the country), Utah (11th), Oregon State (14th), Washington State (21st) and UCLA (22nd). The schedule won’t be kind, although the Buffaloes remain the most fascinating force in college football. The Drive kept CU alive.