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    You Are There: Boise State&039s Statue of Liberty vs. Oklahoma 2007 – Referee.com

    Some eyebrows were raised when Boise State was selected for the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos went a perfect 12-0 record during the 2006 season, but some questioned the caliber of schedule they played in the Western Athletic Conference. .

    His opponent would be Oklahoma, who entered the matchup 11-2 after winning the Big 12 Championship Game.

    Reading: Boise st statue of liberty

    bill lemonnier led the big ten umpiring team that included umpire rick nelson, head linesman brent durbin, linesman dana mckenzie, backup judge tom herbert, field judge mike cannon and side judge jon lucivansky. nelson, herbert and lucivansky had been part of lemonnier’s team during the regular season.

    lemonnier points out that at least one member of the team was concerned that the game would be a success.

    “when we were doing the conference call before going to phoenix, one of the officials made the comment: ‘my god, we have boise and oklahoma,'” lemonnier recalled. “The general sentiment was, ‘why is the state of boise in this game? why are they in the party bowl? I just hope they can play with them for a quarter or a half.’”

    instead of a beating, which the fans got on a January night. January 1, 2007 was one of the most memorable bowling games in history.

    before kickoff, lemonnier and nelson visited boise state coach chris petersen and, per custom, asked if the broncos had any unusual plays the team should be aware of. lemonnier recalls peterson’s answer as “nothing you haven’t seen before”.

    The game did start as a blowout, but it was Boise State that took command by building a 28-10 lead with 8:05 remaining in the third quarter.

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    Lemonnier says the underdog Broncos taking the lead early helped the team keep their focus. “If Oklahoma had come out and taken that big lead, he probably would have confirmed what we felt about him coming in,” he said.

    During the final quarter and a half of regulation, however, it was Oklahoma who took the lead. The Beforeers scored 25 straight points and took a 35-28 lead when Marcus Walker intercepted a pass from Jared Zabransky and returned it 33 yards for a score with 1:02 remaining in regulation.

    at that point, lemonnier thought the problem was solved. “I say to myself, ‘Man, Boise really came close,'” he recalled. “‘great ballgame, but it’s a shame they got so close.’ little did I know.”

    After kickoff, the Broncos had 54 seconds to cover 72 yards. A long completion moved the ball to the Oklahoma 42-yard line, but a sack pushed the Broncos back to midfield, where they met on fourth down and 18 with 18 seconds remaining.

    in the next instant, zabransky connected up the middle with drisan james, who caught the ball at the 35-yard line and executed a perfect hook-and-ladder play by throwing a backward pass four yards behind him to jerard rabb. he ran into the end zone with seven seconds remaining in regulation. a successful extra point tied it.

    boise state won the toss before overtime and chose to start on defense, allowing adrian peterson to give early starters the lead when he rushed 25 yards for a touchdown on the first play. the extra point gave oklahoma a 42-35 lead.

    now it was the turn of the broncos. after six plays, they found themselves facing fourth and two just outside the five-yard line.

    with the game on the line, petersen reached into his bag of tricks once again. Wide receiver Vinny Perretta moved into the backfield to take a snap as Zabransky, the quarterback, moved to the left side. Perretta took the snap, rolled to his right and found tight end Derek Schouman on the right side of the end zone for a touchdown. With his team now down, 42-41, Petersen made the decision to go for two points. the bowl party would be decided in the next few moments.

    “I think they deliberately chose two, not just because they had one more trick up their sleeve,” Lemonnier said. “I think maybe coach petersen realized that, ‘at this point in the game and the way things are going, maybe the big boys have us now.’ we have to put it all on the table.’”

    which no doubt the broncos did. With the ball just inside the left mark, Zabransky took the cross from under center. he took a three-step drop drop and cocked his arm as if he was going to throw to the right before putting the ball behind his back and passing it to running back ian johnson on a statue of liberty play in the opposite direction . Johnson had nothing but open space in front of him as he raced into the end zone to give the Broncos a 43-42 win.

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    “I can remember that play like it was yesterday,” LeMonnier recalled. “It looked like it was in slow motion. I saw the fake and what caught my attention was the back (Johnson). If this was really going to be a true pass play, he would have stepped up in front of the quarterback and not stayed behind. That caught my attention immediately, it was like slow motion to me.

    “my judge with his back told me that everyone, including the referees, bit the fake and everyone went to the right corner, and all of a sudden they said: ‘where is the ball?’”

    after the game, nelson put an exclamation mark on the night. “We were in the locker room,” Lemonnier said. “rick nelson told me, ‘coach petersen was right, we’ve seen all those plays. however, we never saw them all at a ball game.’”

    the outcome of the 2007 bowl party had significant ramifications. It gave more weight to the push for a true Division I soccer playoff, which became a reality after the 2014 season.

    lemonnier, who worked for more than two decades in the big ten before retiring in 2014, remembers the game for a more personal reason. His family was with him in Phoenix for the game and the next morning they exchanged gifts at a late Christmas celebration. At one point, Lemonnier’s son and daughter-in-law announced that they had one more gift for him and his wife.

    “They gave each of us something wrapped in a tissue with a bow,” Lemonnier said. when lemonnier opened his, he found a baby bib. That’s how he found out that his daughter-in-law was pregnant with his first grandchild.

    “That game was one of my favorite experiences on a soccer field,” Lemonnier said, “but the next morning it was even more special.”

    rick woelfel is a freelance writer from philadelphia. 

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