2:30 PM ET, November 13, 2004
Folsom Field, BOULDER, CO
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Joel Klatt stepped up in the pocket. Ron Monteilh split the defense. The result was a 64-yard touchdown catch with 5 seconds left and suddenly, shockingly, Colorado's difficult season seemed anything but dreary.
Monteilh, a senior receiver, caught his first career touchdown Saturday to put the Buffaloes in line for a bowl game with a wild 38-31 victory over Kansas State.
"I couldn't have asked for a better time," he said.
The Buffaloes (6-4, 3-4 Big 12) won after blowing leads of 24-10 and 31-24 in the fourth quarter.
It was yet another unusual chapter to a most unusual season. After Kansas State's last desperation play failed, fans rushed the field and toppled the goalposts: No, it wasn't a big upset and nobody won a title on this day, but given what Colorado has been through this year, this was more than reason to celebrate.
"I don't remember being part of a team that won one like this," said embattled Buffs coach Gary Barnett, who ranked the victory up there with Colorado's 62-36 thrashing of Nebraska three years ago.
And why not?
The Buffaloes became bowl eligible after a season full of tumult -- one in which they lost four of five at one point and, more notably, played in the shadow of rape and recruiting scandal that rocked the program and landed Barnett on suspension last spring.
Just as incredibly, CU still has a chance at the Big 12 title. The win kept the Buffs alive in the watered-down Big 12 North; with a win over Nebraska in two weeks and help, they would make the improbable trip to the championship game in Kansas City on Dec. 4.
"We never quit believing," Barnett said. "I know everyone says that when they win a close one. But this team didn't and hasn't all year."
Big as Monteilh's catch was, it was only the second biggest 64-yard game-winner in CU's history. Ten years ago this season, Michael Westbrook made "The Catch" on the last play at Michigan for a 27-26 victory in September that catapulted the Buffs to an 11-1 season and a win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
While the Buffaloes celebrated their big win, some of the Wildcats (4-6, 2-5) fell to the ground in despair. The loss ended Kansas State's postseason hopes and Bill Snyder's team, which won the conference last season, will stay home during bowl season for the first time in 12 years.
"I'll have to reflect on it, but I'm not sure what it's all about not being able to prepare for a bowl game," said Snyder, who appeared to be choking back tears. "That will certainly be different."
The loss was even more crushing for the Wildcats because of their two fourth-quarter rallies. The game looked headed for overtime when Dylan Meier drove K-State 80 yards and hit Jermaine Moreira for a 17-yard touchdown with 36 seconds left.
A few moments later, however, Monteilh made the catch and the Buffaloes dogpiled him in the end zone.
"After finding a way to win it, then not win it, then not win it, then win it, we won it," Barnett said.
It was that kind of game.
The late score obscured a big game from Buffs tailback Bobby Purify, who finished with 155 yards and two scores. It could have been three: He was running in the open field for what looked like an 80-yard touchdown that would have put CU up 31-10. But he got tripped up by receiver Mike Duren, and the Buffs were forced to punt shortly afterward -- indeed, nothing has come easy for them this year.
"I knew I hit Bobby but I didn't know he was going to fall until I heard the crowd," Duren said.
A bit later, Purify was on the sidelines stretching, expecting CU's second overtime game of the season. Things never got to that, though.
Klatt hit Monteilh in stride for the game winner and finished with 184 yards and two touchdowns. Monteilh had four catches for 106 yards -- and touchdown No. 1.
"I'd been open a number of times, but it just hadn't happened," the receiver said. "A lot of stuff has to go right."
Kansas State's Allen Webb had 140 yards passing and 103 rushing before giving way to Meier at the end. The two quarterbacks have each appeared in nine of K-State's 10 games.
"This has been a pretty tough and strange season, overall," Wildcats quarterbacks coach Del Miller said.
Kansas State will close the season next week at Iowa State, which is one of several games the Buffaloes will have an eye on. Iowa State and Nebraska came into the week with 3-3 conference records, leaders by one game in the Big 12 North. Colorado and Missouri are also still alive for the title.
"This sets us up for all the things we've tried to hang onto," Barnett said. "They're all right there for us. We've got to be playing our best football and we are. This is a team that kept on believing."