Colorado 31, Hawai’i 13 – Eight Minutes of Emulation

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September 18, 2010 – Boulder          Colorado 31, Hawai’i 13

Alfred Williams couldn’t have done it any better himself.

Perhaps inspired by the halftime ceremonies honoring the Colorado All-American’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the Buffs turned a 10-0 halftime deficit into a 31-13 rout of Hawai’i. Quarterback Tyler Hansen passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns,while Brian Lockridge and Rodney Stewart both rushed for over 100 yards as Colorado erased a poor first half showing with a dominant second half performance in the Buffs’ 2010 home opener.

Before many of the 47,840 in attendance had settled into their seats, the Hawai’i Warriors set about making sure Buff fans did not forget the 52-7 rout handed to the Buffs by Cal seven days earlier. On the second play of the game, Hawai’i quarterback Bryant Moniz hit Kealoha Pilares on a crossing route which turned into an 80 yard gain. Jimmy Smith caught Pilares at the Colorado three yard line, but a Warrior score, and another Colorado debacle, seemed imminent.

Then Hawai’i did Colorado a huge favor.

The Warriors ran the ball.

A week after rushing for only ten yards against Army, the Warriors decided to run the ball against the Buffs. Three straight running plays netted only two yards, however, leaving Hawai’i with a fourth-and-goal at the Colorado one yard line. Eschewing the field goal attempt, Hawai’i head coach Greg McMackin opted to go for the touchdown. The snap between center and quarterback was muffed, though, with Colorado safety Anthony Perkins recovering the fumble at the Buff three yard line.

Colorado did manage to get one first down on its first drive, but, saddled with yet two more false start penalties, was forced to punt. The Buff defense stiffened on the Warriors’ second possession, forcing a three-and-out. The Hawai’i punt, though, was mishandled by Travon Patterson, with the fumble bouncing eighteen yards back to the Colorado three yard line, where it was recovered by Hawai’i.

Same song; different verse.

Hawai’i was once again at the Colorado three yard line with a first-and-goal.

And once again, the Warriors came away with no points.

Going back to their strength, Hawai’i went back to the passing game. The Colorado defense, though, forced three incompletions. When a 20-yard chip shot field goal was missed by Hawai’i kicker Scott Enos, Buff fans began to harbor thoughts that this was going to be the Buffs’ day, after all.

Or not.

On the Buffs’ next possession, Rodney Stewart fumbled, setting up the Warriors at the Colorado 42 yard line. This time, Moniz and the Warriors were not to be denied. It took only three plays for the Warriors to score, with Moniz hitting Pilares for a seven yard touchdown with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

7-0, Hawai’i.

The second quarter moved along quickly, with the two teams posting only two possessions apiece. The Buffs posted three first downs on each of their drives, moving the ball fairly well, but each drive resulted in a punt. The second drive ended, when, on third-and-one at the Hawai’i 39-yard line, the shotgun snap to Tyler Hansen went between the junior quarterback’s legs, resulting in an 18-yard loss.

Hawai’i took the subsequent punt and marched smartly down the field, covering 56 yards in only 1:42 of game clock, with Enos connecting on a 31-yard field goal on the last play of the half.

Halftime score: Hawai’i 10, Colorado 0.

Shut out in the first half for the first time at home since the Iowa State game in 2008, Colorado staged a remarkable comeback in the second half, putting forth as dominant an effort as any Buff team in recent memory.

Colorado took the second half kickoff, and, just as in the second quarter, moved with ease down the field. This time, however, the Buffs were not to be denied the endzone. Rodney Stewart, who would rush for 102 yards on 19 carries on the afternoon, capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive with a four yard touchdown run.

Colorado was back in the game – Hawai’i 10, Colorado 7.

Then, Hawai’i started playing like Colorado had against California the week before.

A holding penalty on the kickoff put the Warriors in a hole at their own nine yard line. A false start and an incompletion were offset by a five yard completion, leaving Hawai’i with a third-and-ten at their nine. This time, it was the Warriors’ turn to mishandle a shotgun snap. Swarmed under in his endzone, Moniz was able to get off a dump off pass to running back Alex Green. Green, though, fared no better, and was tackled by Colorado junior defensive back Anthony Perkins for a safety.

Hawaii 10, Colorado 9.

Buoyed by the now raucous home crowd, the Colorado offense seized control of the game. Utilizing a semi hurry-up offense, the Buffs were able to keep the Warriors’ defense off balance. Taking over at their 40-yard line after the Hawai’i free kick, the drive opened with four straight Rodney Stewart runs, netting 25 yards. After a Tyler Hansen to Scotty McKnight hookup for ten yards and a first down on a third-and-six (after a false start penalty on third-and-one), junior running back Brian Lockridge took over. Lockridge, who would post the first 100-yard game of his career (109 yards on 14 carries), handled the ball on the next four plays, netting 28 yards. Rodney Stewart then did the honors from two yards out, giving Colorado its first lead of the game with 7:05 to play in the third quarter, 15-10. The lead was upped to 17-10 a moment later, when Hansen hit freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson for a two-point conversion.

Hawai’i did not go quietly after surrendering the lead, however.

An 11-play, 76-yard drive by the Warriors ensued, but the Colorado defense again stiffened in the red zone, and Hawai’i had to settle for a 32-yard Enos field goal.

17-13, Colorado, with 1:58 to play in the third quarter.

The two teams traded punts before the Buffs came up with the big play which had eluded them for the first three games of the season. On third-and-eight at the Buffs’ 27-yard line, Tyler Hansen was flushed from the pocket. Hansen bought himself enough time that the Warrior pass coverage broke down. Toney Clemons got behind the Warrior secondary, and Hansen lofted the ball to the junior wide receiver near the Hawai’i 40-yard line. Clemons did the rest on his own, taking the ball in for a 73-yard touchdown.

Colorado 24, Hawai’i 13.

The Clemons’ score was a back-breaker for the Warriors, who suffered two penalties and a sack on their next drive before quickly punting the ball back to Colorado. The Buffs’ offense was feeling it now. Brian Lockridge carried the ball on five of the Buffs’ next six plays, gaining 40 yards. On third-and-six at the Hawai’i 23, the Buffs got lucky. A Hansen pass intended for Toney Clemons was tipped, with the ball landing in the arms of a waiting Scotty McKnight at the Hawai’i four yard line. Touchdown, Colorado.

The 31-13 rout was complete two plays later when Jonathan Hawkins, the fourth Buff to play nickel back in three games, intercepted a Bryant Moniz pass.

Final score: Colorado 31, Hawai’i 13.

“Lord knows we’ve had our share of adversity,” said Dan Hawkins after the game. “To the (players’) credit, they have never bagged it in, and they have never quit. They have never doubted and they keep coming back.” Hawkins was pleased with his defense in the first half – “I thought our defense was absolutely stellar; once again they made some tremendous stops … It was fun to see their hard work rewarded” – and with his offense in the second half – “We did a good job in doing the no-huddle … The offense got a lot of confidence and got back into the full of it. Once we got a little mojo going we were rolling.”

Much of the credit for the victory went to the defense, who faced to first-and-goal at the three situations early in the game, but surrendered no points. “They hit the long play, we huddled, we said, ‘We’ll bend but not break’ “, said linebacker B.J. Beatty. ” ‘They’re not going to get out to a huge lead like their other game, 21-0 at Army’. We took it upon ourselves to take that moment and make a statement.”

It could have been a disastrous first half -”It’s a difference of one inch and three inches,” said Hawai’i head coach Greg McMakin. “It should have been 21-0 at halftime” – but the Buffs were still in the game at half, down only 10-0. Then the Colorado rushing game took over. The Buffs posted 452 yards of total offense, with 252 yards coming on the ground. The two 100-yard efforts by Brian Lockridge (109 yards) and Rodney Stewart (106 yards) marked the first time since 2002 that two Colorado running backs went over 100 yards in the same game.

For his part, quarterback Tyler Hansen was efficient, if not spectacular. Hansen went 19-of-26 for 200 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Almost half of Hansen’s yardage came on the two touchdown passes, with neither play as they were designed in the playbook (Clemons’ 73-yarder coming after a scramble by Hansen; McKnight’s 23-yarder coming on a tipped pass). Most of the day, Hansen and the Colorado offense were content to throw underneath, trying to control the ball and the clock. “We were just trying to get (Hansen) into a rhythm and get comfortable back there,” said Dan Hawkins. “We are trying to regain his confidence, so I thought it was a good idea.”

Overall, the Buffs posted decent stats, out-gaining Hawai’i 452 yards to 337. The Buffs ground out 252 yards rushing, holding the Warriors to a net of seven yards rushing. Colorado held onto the ball for 35:49, helped by converting ten-of-14 third down opportunities.

The Buffs will now enjoy a bye week, waiting for Georgia (1-2 after a 31-24 loss to Arkansas Saturday). The Bulldogs still must play again, at Mississippi State, before coming to Boulder. Colorado will be the underdog to Georgia, but, at least for a week, can bask in the glow of one very good half of football.

Not to mention the first “winning month” since the 2008 team opened with a 3-1 September record.

Highlights from the game:

Buffs show imitation is the most sincere form of flattery

The 2010 Buff players had to wait.

The halftime ceremony honoring Alfred Williams’ selection as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 was running long. The 2010 Buff players were lined up behind Ralphie, ready to make their second half entrance onto Folsom Field, but Ralphie’s path around the stadium had yet to be cleared. Hundreds of young children, all wearing No. 94 jerseys in honor of Williams, along with a number of dignitaries on hand for the presentation – including fellow CU Hall of Famers Joe Romig and Dick Anderson – were still in Ralphie’s way.

As the Buffs waited, they heard the cheers for Williams.

As the Buffs waited, the sun, which had been as hidden from view in the first half as the Colorado offense, decided to make an appearance.

As the Buffs waited, a trio of F-18′s thundered their way over the stadium, bringing about yet another raucous cheer from a Buff home crowd anxious to have something for which to cheer.

“Do you get it now?”, I thought to myself as I saw the Buff players bunched up behind Ralphie, their gold helmets reflecting the first patch of sunlight of the afternoon. “Do you understand that wearing those 1990 Buffs’ jerseys means something??”.

Apparently, the Buffs got it.

Maybe it was halftime speeches (Buff players related after the game that offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau was quite animated about the shutout being pitched against his offense by a Warrior defense giving up 38 points per game). Maybe it was the flyover, or the sunlight, or the presence of Alfred Williams on their field.

Something got to the 2010 Buff players, down 10-0 to Hawai’i at halftime.

Whatever it was, it sparked a rally. For the first eight minutes of the second half against Hawai’i, Colorado played about as well as any Buff team has during any such stretch in the Dan Hawkins’ era.

Taking the second half kickoff at their 20-yard line, Rodney Stewart promptly ran for seven yards. An illegal substitution penalty on Hawai’i subsequently gave Colorado a first down. After an incompletion, the offensive line was guilty of yet another false start. As moans were heard throughout the stadium, though, senior Nate Solder was getting in the grill of two of his teammates.

Enough was enough.

From there, Colorado exhibited classic ball control offense. Stewart up the middle for seven; Tyler Hansen to tight end Ryan Deehan for 13, converting on third-and-eight. After the completion to Deehan, the Buffs never again faced a third down on the drive, quickly marching down the field. A 14-play, 80-yard drive was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Rodney Stewart in which Stewart ran up the middle of the Warrior defense completely untouched.

The Buffs had new life, but were still down 10-7.

Enter the Colorado defense, which had seen eight snaps by the Hawai’i offense inside the Colorado five yard line early in the first quarter, but had surrendered no points. Two penalties pushed the Warriors back to their five yard line. On third down, Hawai’i quarterback Bryant Moniz was nearly sacked by junior linebacker Tyler Ahles. Moniz did get off a pass to running back Alex Green, but Green was quickly swarmed under, with defensive back Anthony Perkins given credit for the safety.

Three offensive plays by Hawai’i … for minus-nine yards and a safety. The lead was now down to a single point. 10-9, Hawai’i.

The ensuing free kick was returned by Toney Clemons to the Buff 40-yard line. The Colorado offense was now in high gear, taking off on a drive with play calling which was pure poetry in the eyes of many Buff fans who have longed for a return of “smash-mouth” football in Boulder. The first four plays were all Rodney Stewart runs, gaining nine, seven, four, and five yards. On third-and-one, Tyler Hansen easily gained two yards for a first down, but the Buffs were flagged for illegal substitution. Rather than allow the gaff to ruin the drive, however, the inspired Buffs went ahead and converted, with Hansen hitting Scotty McKnight for ten yards and a first down.

Then it was Brian Lockridge’s turn to shine. Four straight runs by “B-Lock” went for 13, two, four, and nine yards, setting up the Buffs with a first-and-goal at the Hawai’i two yard line. Stewart again did the honors, covering the final two yards unscathed for his second touchdown of the third quarter. The comeback was complete a few moments later, when Tyler Hansen hit freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson for a two-point conversion.

17-10, Colorado.

Eight minutes of game clock.

Two drives by the Colorado offense, covering a total of 140 yards in 24 plays. Two touchdowns.

One drive for the Hawai’i offense, losing nine yards in three plays, and surrendering a safety to the Colorado defense.

Eight minutes of play in which the 2010 Colorado Buffaloes dominated.

Eight minutes of play in which the 2010 Colorado Buffaloes looked like a team capable of competing with almost any team on its schedule.

Eight minutes of play in which the 2010 Colorado Buffaloes looked like the team which was worthy of the last team to wear those same style jerseys – the 1990 national championship team.

No. I am not saying, even for a moment, that this year’s version of the Buffs is on its way to playing like, and winning like, the 1990 team did. The national championship team went 3-1-1 in non-conference play, with four of those five games being played against ranked teams (the fifth opponent, unranked Stanford, went on to defeat the No. 1 team in the nation at the time, Notre Dame, two weeks after playing the Buffs). The 2010 Buffs would be fortunate to get away with one win against that schedule.

What I am saying is that, for an ever-so brief period of time – eight minutes - Colorado fans were treated to quality football.

Perhaps the Buff Nation owes yet another round of applause to Alfred Williams. On Friday night, Williams spoke to the team. He talked about the tradition of the program. Williams “called a lot of us guys out, basically every starter on the team,” said senior captain Scotty McKnight. “He called them all out and was like, ‘This (losing by 45 points to Cal) is unacceptable’ … We don’t take it as he’s calling us out because he doesn’t like us. I think we’re all grown men and we can understand that. We take it as he is calling us out because he wants us to be great. He said if you’re the starter, you need to work harder than anyone on the team. If you’re a backup, make it your goal not to be the backup next week.”

For much of the first half, it was the “bad old days” for the Buffs – and the Buff Nation. Buff fans were not shocked when the Colorado defense, knowing that Hawai’i was going to pass all afternoon, gave up an 80-yard pass on the second play of the game. Buff fans were not surprised, when, a few moments later, a punt was muffed, setting up the Warriors for another chance to score. Buff fans were not irate when Tyler Hansen missed a wide open Kyle Cefalo to end one threat, then had a snap go between his legs to end another. After four years of losing, with over a dozen losses by double digits, Buff fans have become numb.

For eight minutes of the third quarter against Hawai’i, however, Buff fans were at once both reminded of what was once theirs, and what could potentially be theirs again.

It was a nice feeling …

Game Notes -

- Junior Brian Lockridge posted his first 100-yard rushing game. His previous best came in 2007 when, as a true freshman, he went for 90 yards against Miami (Ohio).

- For junior Rodney Stewart, the 106 yards against Hawai’i was his ninth 100-yard effort, tying him for 11th on the all-time list in that category with three other players (including his position coach, Darian Hagan). Stewart now has 1,679 career yards, moving him from 25th to 22nd on the all-time list.

- Junior quarterback Tyler Hansen’s 200 yards moved him into the top 15 in career passing yards, with 2,278 overall. On Saturday, Hansen passed four players Saturday, including such well known names as Jeff Knapple, Ken Johnson, and Bobby Anderson.

- It took an extra week, but Scotty McKnight finally eclipsed the 2,000-yard barrier. In catching a pass in 39th straight regular season game, McKnight had six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, moving him into fifth place all-time with 2,057 yards. McKnight passed Javon Green (2,031; 1997-2000) and Derek McCoy (2,038; 2000-03).

- The safety recorded by Anthony Perkins against Hawai’i running back Alex Green marked the first safety for Colorado since 2005 (against Kansas). Perkins led the Buffs against Hawai’i with six tackles.

- The safety was the first for Colorado since 2005, when the Kansas punter threw the ball out of the endzone after a bad snap.

- The two-point conversion pass from Tyler Hansen to Paul Richardson represented the first two-point conversion scored by a freshman since Craig Ochs turned the trick against Kansas State in 2000.

- The last time Colorado was shut out at home in the first half came in 2008, when Iowa State also led 10-0 at the break. Colorado came back to win that game as well, posting a 28-24 victory.

- The loss dropped Hawai’i to 2-13-1 all-time against Big 12 teams; 0-11-1 in the last 12 games.

- Ever wonder about the ‘ in Hawai’i? Well, it’s called an ‘Okina. According to the Hawai’i media release, it translates literally as separator – “Phonetically, it is referred to as a glottal stop, similar to the sound that would be made in the English oh-oh. The ‘okina is actually a letter in the Hawaiian language.” So now you know …

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