EZ Mortgages

Oregon – “I think that could be a turning point for our program”

// Sep 14 - 1985

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September 14th – Boulder           Colorado 21, Oregon 17

Mickey Pruitt’s sack of Oregon quarterback Chris Miller as time expired allowed Colorado to raise its season record to 2-0 for the first time since 1978 with an exciting 21-17 win over the Ducks in Boulder.

The Buffs offense made it look easy in the first quarter, racing to a 14-0 lead. Sophomore fullback Anthony Weatherspoon scored on a ten-yard run, followed shortly thereafter by a three yard touchdown run by quarterback Mark Hatcher.

After the quick start, though, Oregon dominated through the middle quarters, forging a 17-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

Then the game really got interesting.

Quarterback Mark Hatcher scored on a 22-yard run early in the fourth quarter to put the Buffs back on top, 21-17. After that, the defense was asked to take over. Specifically, the game, and the fragile confidence of Colorado’s young team, came down to the play of two sophomore defensive backs, David Tate and Mickey Pruitt.

With the Buffs holding on to a tenuous four-point lead after Hatcher’s run, Oregon drove down the field. The drive was thwarted, however, by an interception by David Tate at the Buffs’ 10 yard line. After the pick, the Buffs were held deep in their own territory and were quickly forced to punt. Punter Barry Helton did his part, with a 68-yard kick down to the Ducks 13-yard line.

5:23 still remained. Colorado 21, Oregon 17.

The Ducks, led by future NFL quarterback Chris Miller, methodically drove from its own 13 to the Colorado three-yard line as the clock ticked off the final minutes of the game.

Oregon had a first-and-goal at the Colorado five yard line with a minute left to play. Three plays netted only two yards, however, with Buff fans pleading with the defense to hold on for one more down.

Faced with fourth-and-goal at the Colorado three yard line, Chris Miller called time out.

Only nine seconds remained on the game clock.

The game would come down to one play.

What would it be for the Buffs? Would Colorado double its 1984 win total in only the second week of the season, or would the black cloud which had hung over Folsom Field for the previous six years again rain upon the Buffs and their faithful fans?

Enter Mickey Pruitt.

Sophomore strong safety Mickey Pruitt was a member of Bill McCartney’s first recruiting class. It was fitting then, that it was Pruitt who broke through on a safety blitz, flushing Miller out of the pocket, sacking the Oregon quarterback before Miller could get off the pass.

Ball turned over on downs.

Game over. Colorado 21, Oregon 17.

How big was the win?

Coach McCartney after the game: “I think that could be a turning point for our program.”

In retrospect, who can argue with that statement?

Here is a You Tube video of the final play, one of Bill McCartney’s Top Five plays:

 

Ed Reinhardt Day

Only 30,373 were in attendance for the 1985 Colorado/Oregon game.

That’s a shame.

The occasion deserved nothing less than a sellout crowd of 50,000+. Not only because of the win, but because of the halftime activities that afternoon. The Oregon game in 1985 was designated at Colorado as “Ed Reinhardt Day”. After collapsing in Eugene after the Colorado/Oregon game the year before, Reinhardt spent two months in a coma. By September, 1985, Reinhardt was in an extensive rehabilitation program at Craig Hospital in Denver.

Halftime festivities saluted not only Reinhardt, but also the Oregon team and the city of Eugene, Oregon, whose outpouring of assistance had not gone unnoticed in Boulder. Reinhardt’s presence was an emotional lift for a program which needed one.

The exciting win could well be attributed to a player who never played a down in the game, Ed Reinhardt.

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Game Notes –

– Both quarterback Mark Hatcher (16 rushes, 114 yards) and fullback Anthony Weatherspoon (25 rushes for 101 yards) eclipsed the 100-yard barrier against Oregon, with Ron Brown (eight rushes for 83 yards) not far behind. The Oregon game marked the first time since 1978 (v. Kansas) that Colorado had two players rush for over 100 yards in the same game.

– Colorado out-gained Oregon on the afternoon, 390 yards to 328, with the two teams taking different paths to offensive yards. The Buffs had 342 yards rushing to only 106 for the Ducks, but Oregon had 222 yards passing, while Colorado completed only two passes (in five attempts), going for 48 yards.

– Junior linebacker Barry Remington, who would go on to lead the Buffs in tackles in 1985 with 162, led the Buffs with 22 tackles (13 unassisted) against Oregon.

– Barry Helton’s 68-yard punt certainly helped the Buffs against the Ducks, but it was well short of the school-record 84-yard punt (“without roll”) Byron “Whizzer” White laid on Missouri in 1937. Oddly enough, Helton’s effort was his only punt of the afternoon.

– Oregon would go on to finish the 1985 season with a 5-6 record; 3-4 in the Pac-10. In a harbinger of what the Buffs were to face later in the season, Oregon, two weeks after facing Colorado, would fall to No. 14 Nebraska, 63-0.

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3 Responses to “Oregon – “I think that could be a turning point for our program””

  1. Kevin Buick

    I have to second Adam’s comment about the emotional force of Ed Reinhardt’s presence at this game. I was in the student section when the convertible swung slowly around toward us. Ed, who seemed to be struggling with awareness of where he was, suddenly locked his eyes on the applauding students, and thrust his arm up in greeting and recognition. The section absolutely exploded — shouts of joy and thunderous noise rose up. I had never seen anything like it in my 21 years and have to say that it still remains one of the most emotionally charged moments I’ve ever experienced. By the time that Mickey Pruitt ended the game with that sack, the entire student section had been through the kind of transcendent experience that later generations of Buff fans would brush against through their connection with Sal Aunese. It started here. The success that this program would eventually experience started here, and I trace it to Ed Reinhardt’s wave.

    • Adam

      I had not seen Kevin’s comment until this morning. He is spot-on identifying what happened that afternoon as a “kind of transcendent experience”. As great a sporting event as I have ever had the pleasure of seeing live, as much for what happened on the field at halftime as for what happened inside of the five-yard line at game’s end.

      We are rapidly approaching the 30th anniversary of this game (that makes you and I both “older” men Kevin!) and I smile every time I hear the names Ed Reinhardt and/or Mickey Pruitt. You could not have borne witness to what happened at Folsom that afternoon and not have had it left a positive mark upon you.

  2. I was a freshman at CU in the fall of 1985. My first football game at Folsom was the season opener vs. CSU, which we won. My second game was vs. Oregon. Mickey Pruitt made the great play on Chris Miller down near the goal line to preserve the win. Amazing stuff.

    What I remember about the Oregon game as much as Pruitt’s great play was that having seen footage of Ed Reinhardt’s injury on TV as a senior in high school I knew who he was and knew that his injury had come against Oregon. I had learned as well all that was done by the medical folks in Eugene to help him in the immediate aftermath of his injury. During the Oregon game, Ed came out on the field, sitting in the back of a convertible and the car drove slowly around the field as the fans went crazy and he waved to the crowd. I recall that the Oregon fans were very enthusiastic cheering for him and his family as well.

    It was a beautiful early-to-mid September afternoon more than a quarter-century ago and I still see it in my mind’s eye. Reading about it here as well as in the piece on “Transition Classes” brought the memory back vividly. Thanks for that.

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