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All 32 plays from the canceled First Responder Bowl, ranked

Remember the First Responder Bowl how it lived, not how it died.

NCAA Football: SERVPRO First Responder Bowl-Boston College vs Boise State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The First Responder Bowl lasted 9 minutes and 52 seconds on December 26. Then the people in charge of the game detected lightning near the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and Boise State and Boston College went into a delay at 1:59 p.m. ET.

An hour and 21 minutes later, the game was ruled a no-contest amid hours of lightning still to come, and it was exactly the same as its title sponsor SERVPRO’s slogan: “like it never even happened.”

None of the stats accrued in those 10 minutes will count toward anything, and both teams will finish their seasons with standard records: Boston College at seven wins, and Boise State at 10-3.

But we can’t let the plays that did happen in this game be lost to the dustbin of history. Here is a ranking of those plays, because they deserve commemoration. The First Responder Bowl was a sacrifice to the thunder gods, and we will honor it by remembering its 32 football moments.


32. A false start on Boise State’s CT Thomas
31. A kickoff by BC’s Danny Longman, which went out of bounds
30. A negative-2-yard run by Boise’s Alex Mattison
29. A negative-1-yard run by Boise’s Thomas

Losing yards and kicking the ball out of bounds: not what we’re looking for. Though if you look at these plays through another lens, you can appreciate them for how quickly they concluded. It’s as if the players knew they were playing on borrowed time and were heroically trying to squeeze in as many game events as possible.

The five incomplete passes

28-24. Three Brett Rypien incompletions and two Anthony Brown incompletions.

In honor of these passes being incomplete, my descriptions of them will also be incomplete.

NCAA Football: SERVPRO First Responder Bowl-Boston College vs Boise State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports


23. A 1-yard run by BC’s AJ Dillon
22. A 1-yard run by BC’s Travis Levy
21. A 2-yard run by BC’s Dillon
20. A 2-yard catch by Boise’s Andrew Van Buren
19. A 3-yard catch by BC’s Michael Walker
18. A 3-yard run by BC’s Brown
17. A 4-yard run by BC’s Dillon
16. A 5-yard run by Boise’s Mattison
15. A 5-yard run by BC’s Levy
14. A 7-yard run by BC’s Dillon

The forward pass is gauche. Real football is when a team from Boston and a team from Idaho pound into each other for mostly marginal gains, with occasional attempts at perimeter passes getting snuffed out with barely any forward progress.

A good punt and a bad return, working together to make the overall play fine

13. A 43-yard punt by BC’s Grant Carlson, with a negative-2-yard return by Boise’s Avery Williams

Some sacks

12. A sack by Boston College’s Wyatt Ray for a loss of 3 yards
11. A sack by BC’s Brandon Sebastian for a loss of 5 yards

The average sack costs a team about 6 yards. It is fitting that even the sacks in this game were unsexy.

Special teams are hard in the rain

10. An extra point by BC’s Colton Lichtenberg
9. A 44-yard punt by Boise’s Quinn Skillin, returned 10 yards by BC’s Walker

Kicking is challenging in poor conditions, so please think of the specialists.

Positive offensive gains

8. A 10-yard catch by Boise’s Thomas
7. A 15-yard catch by BC’s Kobay White
6. A 16-yard catch by BC’s Jeff Smith
5. A 20-yard catch by BC’s White
4. A 27-yard catch by Boise’s Thomas
3. A 19-yard TOUCHDOWN RUN by BC’s Dillon

Boise State long ago made its name with creative offense, but the Broncos were averaging 3 yards per play in this game.

They gave way to offensive juggernaut BC. The Eagles, with the sport’s No. 65 unit in Marginal Explosiveness, had four 15-plus yard gains and a 19-yard touchdown in 14 offensive plays. Let’s watch the (completely a)historic Dillon TD:

They were averaging 6.9 yards per play when the “game” “ended.”

The moments that will live forever

2. A 53-yard punt by Boise’s Skillin for a touchback

A booming punt netting 33 yards is the most “third-tier bowl game got canceled after 10 minutes” play of all time, and I won’t hear any arguments to the contrary.

1. The opening kickoff by BC’s David Longman for a touchback

A kicker named LONGMAN kicking a ball far enough to achieve a touchback is the greatest moment in the 9-minute, 52-second history of the First Responder Bowl.