Colorado State loses to UNLV on last-second field goal

UNLV’s Jose Pizano made a game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock to defeat Colorado State, 25-23, Saturday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Pizano kicked his sixth field goal of the game, a 28-yarder, to end a back-and-forth battle between the teams’ kickers that developed in the game’s final minutes.

After Pizano had kicked a field goal with 1:27 to go to give the Rebels a 22-20 lead, CSU’s Jordan Noyes kicked a 55-yarder to give the Rams the lead with 44 seconds left. However, that was enough time for UNLV to drive down and kick the game-winner.

CSU dropped to 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in the Mountain West with the loss — a game in which it was outscored 13-0 in the third quarter and 22-10 in the second half.

“That’s just how the game of football is,” CSU tight end Dallin Holker said. “There’s up and there’s downs and that’s honestly the beauty of it. It’s an amazing sport; we all love this sport. There’s a lot of things it teaches you. It’s great to be on one end and it sucks to be on the other end. You just have to keep your head up and keep going and that’s what we’re going to do, because we have an amazing team.”

The Rams held a 10-point halftime lead, but the Rebels wasted little time erasing it.

A pair of field goals by Pizano, one from 43 yards with 11:10 left in the third quarter and another from 25 yards with 6:05 left in the period, cut the Rams’ lead to 13-9.

Three minutes after the Rebels’ second field goal of the period, they scored their first touchdown of the game. Donavyn Lester ran it in from 11 yards out to give UNLV its first lead at 16-13, with 3:06 to go in the quarter.

UNLV extended its lead in the fourth quarter. Pizano kicked his fourth field goal, a 34-yarder to make it 19-13 with 7:36 left.

The Rams retook the lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to Justus Ross-Simmons with 3:49 remaining, but there was still plenty of time on the clock for both teams.

Pizano was good from 45 yards out with 1:27 left to give the Rebels the lead. UNLV then completed some big passes to get in position for Pizano’s game-winner, countering the long Noyes make.

CSU head coach Jay Norvell felt like the Rams missed some opportunities due to execution and the inability to convert third downs that might have prevented the game from coming down to a walk-off field goal.

“We just have to execute, and we have to convert on third down,” Norvell said. “We had a couple of third downs which were very makeable, and we just didn’t execute the way we needed to to get those.”

Fowler-Nicolosi finished the game completing 21 of 32 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown. For the first time this season, he didn’t throw an interception. Vann Schield led CSU rushing attack with 90 yards on the ground, including a 52-yard burst, his longest of the season.

Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Rebels got on the board first early in the second period. Pizano kicked a 42-yarder to give the Rebels a 3-0 lead with 14:45 left before halftime.

The Rams answered with a field goal of their own, a Noyes 33-yarder.

On the Rams’ next possession, they scored the first touchdown of the game. Running back Avery Morrow, making his first appearance since being injured in CSU’s third game of the season against Middle Tennessee, scored his first touchdown of the season from 2 yards out to give the Rams a 10-3 lead with 3:58 left in the half.

CSU extended its lead to 13-3 on a 27-yard Noyes field goal.

The third quarter and most of the fourth was all UNLV until Ross-Simmons’ catch gave the Rams the lead with a few minutes remaining.

CSU will return home next Saturday to host Air Force at Canvas Stadium.

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