Jan. 2, 2007
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -Jared Zabransky's magnificent moment would not be doused by one awful pass.
Not with the perfect plays he and his Boise State teammates still had up their sleeves. Not with the gamblers' daring the Broncos showed on an unforgettable night for the little guys on one of college football's biggest stages.
Zabransky, a fifth-year senior, threw three touchdown passes in a 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma on Monday night, without a doubt the greatest sporting triumph in the history of the state of Idaho.
His one errant pass of the night floated into the arms of Oklahoma cornerback Marcus Walker, who returned it 33 yards for a touchdown with 1:02 to play to put the Sooners ahead 35-28.
The Broncos weren't finished though. Far from it.
On the first of a series of amazing plays, Zabransky threw over the middle 15 yards to James, who pitched the ball back to wide receiver Jerard Rabb. Rabb raced to the corner and took a dive into the end zone at the pylon with 7 seconds left to force the overtime.
Zabransky completed his incredible night with a deft display of deception. On the game-winning 2-point conversion, he faked a pass to his right, then slipped the ball to Ian Johnson, who ran in for the win.
The Broncos, motivated by the doubts expressed that they deserved a BCS berth despite a 12-0 regular season, matched blow-for-blow with the Big 12 champs.
And Zabransky was the heart of it all.
Boise State receiver Drisan James, who played high school football just five miles down the road from the Fiesta Bowl site, had caught two passes all season before Monday night. But on Boise's seventh play of the game, he found himself wide open deep downfield, catching Zabransky's pass and breezing into the end zone to make it 7-0.
Then, as the first half neared the end, he caught a short pass from Zabransky. Instead of going out of bounds to stop the clock, as just about everyone expected, he cut inside, broke a tackle and raced to the end zone to put the Broncos up 21-10.
At least half of the capacity crowd of 73,719 were orange-and-blue clad Bronco fanatics, and they went wild.
Zabransky, from the small northeastern Oregon town of Hermiston, completed 19 of 29 for 262 yards and three touchdowns with that one interception.
He had talked about the "gigantic" chip on the Broncos' shoulders because of doubts they deserved a BCS berth. The motivation served them well.
A decade after elevating its program to NCAA Division I, the Broncos finished their season 13-0. No one this year, not even Ohio State, will better that mark.