FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Late comebacks have become a habit for No. 20 BYU -- a habit the Cougars wouldn't mind kicking.
For the second straight week, the Cougars lived dangerously, relying on a late rally to rescue them in a 45-42 win over Colorado State on Saturday night.
"This team keeps finding a way to win football games," Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Down four with 1:36 remaining, 76 yards to go.
Not with one of the top offenses in the nation. Not with the ever-cool Max Hall guiding the Cougars (8-1, 4-1 Mountain West).
Dennis Pitta punctuated the game-winning drive with a 17-yard grab with 22 seconds remaining, ramming his way into the end zone and even crunching one of his own players in the process.
Pitta was also crushed on a 23-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter, his helmet popping off as he was sandwiched between two Rams defenders.
"It didn't seem that hard to me," said Pitta, who caught 12 passes for 175 yards. "The ball came to the outside, to my back shoulder. I got it, took a big hit and hung on."
Hung on would be the operative term for BYU in recent weeks. They hung on last Saturday as well, needing a fourth-quarter comeback to squeak by UNLV.
That's two close calls.
Still, that's two wins, which is all Mendenhall is concerned about.
"We can enjoy this one," Mendenhall said.
But he wouldn't mind a little breathing room, too.
Colorado State twice rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but BYU wouldn't buckle, beating the Rams (4-5, 2-3) for a fifth straight time.
"It just hurts," said CSU's Billy Farris, who finished with three touchdown passes. "When we work that hard and just doesn't happen for us, it's disheartening."
Pitta pocketed a big night thanks to Austin Collie, who caught all three of his touchdown passes before halftime.
The Rams rolled their coverage over to Collie, leaving Pitta room to roam.
Collie had nine catches for 156 yards, his seventh straight game with at least 100 yards. The junior wideout also moved past Matt Bellini for third place on the school's all-time receiving list.
"Teams have to pick their poison of who they are going to guard," said Hall, who threw for 389 yards and five touchdowns. "At the end, they gave me Dennis."
Harvey Unga finished with 133 yards and had a 40-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Too much time?
"I definitely kind of thought about that, but at the same time, anytime you can score is a positive thing," Morton said. "It just kind of puts the defense in a good situation to get a stop. Unfortunately, we didn't."
Mychal Sisson recovered two fumbles for Colorado State, including one he returned for a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Sisson's second fumble recovery midway through the fourth quarter set up Johnson's 7-yard scamper.
So excited was Johnson after his score, he ventured out of the back of the end zone to chest-bump Miami Dolphins and former CSU linebacker Joey Porter, drawing a 15-yard penalty.
Porter arrived on the sideline in the first half wearing a white Colorado State T-shirt as he watched his former team head into the locker room tied at 21.
The Dolphins are in town to play Denver on Sunday.
Porter watched the Rams run their version of the Dolphins' "Wildcat" offense, with running back John Mosure taking direct snaps -- just like Dolphins tailback Ronnie Brown -- and Farris sprinting out wide.
The first time Colorado State ran the spread formation, Mosure took the snap and galloped in from 9 yards out.
Later, Mosure had the ball hiked to him before pitching it to Rashaun Greer, who then gave it to Farris coming around in motion. Farris then lofted a strike to Morton for a 32-yard score.
"We had our chances, but we didn't make enough plays to get it done," Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild said. "Our kids certainly believed we could win this game."
Just like the Cougars. They're becoming used to late-game pressure.
"We've been in this situation before and responded every single time," Collie said. "That's exactly what we did tonight -- dig deep and know it's not over."
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