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The Catch

June 11, 2013

By Gary Ozzello
Ram Alumni Athletes Association

Jeremy Calhoun as a youngster dreamed about making a game-winning reception to win the game for his football team. 

On a chilly November night inside Air Force’s Falcon Stadium, his dream came true.

Calhoun was a 6-foot, 185-pound wide receiver for Sonny Lubick’s Rams.  In 1995, he was instrumental in helping Colorado State to a second consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship and berth in the Holiday Bowl.

A year later, he teamed with future CSU Sports Hall of Fame quarterback Moses Moreno and several teammates to form one of the most prolific offensive units in Rams’ football history.

The team boasted a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Damon Washington – who is also in the school’s hall of fame – and Calvin Branch, both of whom would later play in the NFL.  Calhoun, Geoff Turner and Ronald Antoine were outside threats, while Eli Workman was a versatile tight end.  The offensive line featured the late Anthony Cesario and Mike Newell, both whom played in the NFL.  Cesario is also a member of the school’s sports hall of fame.

But on this night before a near-capacity crowd in the stadium and live national television audience on ESPN, things weren’t going the Rams way.

The Falcons’ senior quarterback, Beau Morgan, had led Air Force to a seemingly insurmountable 41-14 lead with just more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter.  Morgan would finish the night with 243 rushing yards and 66 more through the air. 

Calhoun remembers walking off the field at the time and seeing his teammates dejected along the sidelines.

“I saw DeVaughn Hawkins sitting on the bench with his head down,” Calhoun said of the defensive tackle.  “I told him, ‘trust me, we’re going to win this game.  You get us a ‘three-and-out’, we’re going to score and come back and win this game.’”

From the point the Falcons enjoyed the 27-point advantage, Colorado State erupted for four touchdowns, the game-winner coming on Calhoun’s diving catch in the right corner of the end zone with just 45 seconds remaining in the game.

“It happened so fast,” Calhoun said in describing the final touchdown.  “I told myself, ‘wherever it is, I’m going to catch this ball.  If I can just get a half step ahead or to the side of the defensive back, I’m going to catch it. If it touches any part of my body, I have to catch it.’”

With the ball spotted at the Rams’ 21-yard line on fourth down and 10 yards to go, Moreno took a quick drop and lofted the ball toward Calhoun, streaking down the right sideline.  The pass appeared to be long.

“I originally thought there was no way I was getting to it.  So I put my head down, and two big steps, and dove,” Calhoun said. 

Completely outstretched, he caught the ball just past the goal line, and Colorado State’s bench erupted, with players running onto the field.

“It’s something you dream about as a kid.  To have it happen was just amazing,” Calhoun said.  “I think it’s the ‘numero uno’ greatest comeback I’ve ever been a part of.”

In the excitement, CSU was assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, making Matt McDougal’s point-after try a bit more challenging.  Earlier in the game, Air Force had missed a point-after try that would later prove costly.

McDougal’s kick sailed through, and following an interception, the Rams ran out the clock to cap an improbable victory.

Not only did the Rams overcome a 27-point deficit, they did it minus key personnel.  Branch, who would finish with 124 rushing yards, was injured during the game, and Washington, due to injury, carried only four times.  The Rams turned to walk-on Ryan Beckman from tiny Idalia, Colo., in the backfield.

“Still to this day, sometimes I can’t believe we came back and won that game.  But you know, Rams never quit,” he said emphatically.

He also feels ‘the catch’ the reason his twin sons, Jeremy II and Justin, fell in love with football. 

“When they were about five years old, I pulled out some of the old game tapes and showed them to my sons,” he explained.  “The ESPN announcers were going crazy when I made that catch.  I honestly feel that’s why they fell in love with football.”

The twin brothers play football at Long Beach Poly High, where their proud father – who is an assistant coach - expects both to start for the next two seasons.  Jeremy II is a runningback, while brother Justin plays in the defensive secondary.

Calhoun and his wife, who also have a daughter currently attending Arizona State University, said he has another dream.

“My dream is that my sons would sign letters of intent to play at CSU,” he said excitedly.  “I love the school, I love the Rams.  I hope the players there now have the stories like I do, the experience I had, for the rest of their lives.

“Whenever I get the chance to retire, I’m moving back to Fort Collins.  Those were the best times of my life.”

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