September 4th – Boulder           No. 14 Colorado 27, Texas 6

The Texas Longhorns entered the 1989 season sailing in unfamiliar waters.

Texas had stumbled to 4-7 record in 1988, the worst season in Austin since 1956.  In order to turn matters around, and to avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the Depression, Texas and third-year head coach David McWilliams looked to the game against Colorado for redemption.  The game would be played before a national ESPN television audience on Labor Day night.

The game did turn out to be a coming out party, but it was not for the Longhorns.

It was for Colorado sophomore quarterback Darian Hagan.

On the season’s second play, Hagan dashed for 75 yards before being caught from behind, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Eric Bieniemy to put the Buffs up 7-0 just 75 seconds into the game.  The touchdown was all the Buffs would need, as Colorado cruised to a 27-6 win over Texas to open the 1989 season.  Hagan, who entered the game with 175 career rushing yards, ran for 116 yards and a touchdown as the Buffs looked dominant on both sides of the ball.

A five-yard touchdown pass from Hagan to junior fullback George Hemingway gave the Buffs a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.  The Colorado defense took over from there, limiting the Longhorns to 268 yards of total offense. The Longhorns did get two second quarter field goals field goals to pull to within one score, at 14-6, but 36-yard field goal by senior Ken Culbertson as time expired in the first half pushed the Buffs back out to a 17-6 lead, and the Longhorns did not threaten the lead again.

Some 47,269 Buff faithful, the largest home opening crowd since 1983, went home more than satisfied.  The win impressed more than just Buff fans, though.  When the Associated Press poll was released, Colorado jumped five places to No. 9.  The Buffs were aided by several upsets opening weekend, as top ten teams USC, Florida State, and LSU were all defeated (Southern Cal by Illinois, Colorado’s opponent in two weeks).  A 36-13 thrashing of Virginia allowed Notre Dame to jump over idle Michigan for the No. 1 spot in the nation.

The No. 1 ranking was not on the Buffs’ minds.  Playing on Labor Day, Colorado only had five days to prepare for its next game against in-state rival, Colorado State.

There could be no let up.

Here is a YouTube video of Darian Hagan’s career, including the season-opening 75-yard run against Texas …


 Game Notes –

– Darian Hagan’s 75-yard run is barely in the top 20 in school history in terms of length. However, the run created a new record as the longest non-scoring run ever, besting a 70-yard non-scoring run by James Mayberry against Oklahoma State in 1977.

– On 32 of 68 offensive plays, Texas was held to zero or negative yardage.

– Sophomore Jay Leeuwenburg joined the offensive line in the 1989 opener, making his first career start. Much of the Buffs’ offensive statistics in 1989 could be traced to the fact that the Buffs had the same starters along the offensive line all season – senior Bill Coleman (LT); junior Joe Garten (LG); sophomore Jay Leeuwenburg (C); senior Darrin Muilenburg (RG); and junior Mark Vander Poel (RT). The unit would post some impressive numbers, as in 1989, Colorado would finish 2nd in the nation in rushing (371.8 yards/game); 6th in total offense (472.8 yards/game); 1st in rushing touchdowns (54); and 3rd in scoring offense (41.1 points/game).

– Sophomore nose tackle Joel Steed made his first career start against Texas, and was the only Buff defender to make his first career start in the opener. Steed would go on to start every game in the 1989 season, posting 48 tackles, including two sacks.

– Linebacker Alfred Williams, a second-team All-Big Eight (and honorable mention All-American) performer in 1988, got his 1989 season off to a good start in the opener. Williams had only ten tackles against Texas, but had 2 1/2 sacks, good enough to be awarded the Big Eight Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors.

– The victory was the first ever for Colorado over Texas. Prior to 1989, the Buffs had an 0-4 record against the Longhorns, with three losses in the 1940’s, to go with a 38-21 loss in the 1975 Bluebonnet Bowl.

– The No. 14 preseason ranking marked the first time since 1977 that the Buffs were ranked prior to the season opener (Colorado was ranked 12th to open 1977, but ended the season unranked).

– With the win, the Buffs moved into the top ten for the first time in 22 seasons. Previously, the last time Colorado was a top ten team was in 1977, when the 5-0-1 Buffs were ranked 7th.  A 33-15 loss to No. 18 Nebraska the following weekend, however, dropped the Buffs to 15th  in the next poll, and out of the top ten for the next 12 seasons.

– Texas would go on to post a 5-6 record in 1989, the second year in a row without a bowl game for the Longhorns (such a travesty had not taken place in Austin since a drought of four bowl-less seasons between 1953-56). A 10-2 campaign in 1990 would save David McWilliams for another season, but a 5-6 record in 1991 ended the McWilliams’ era in Austin.


2 Replies to “Texas – Hagan goes for 75 yards on 2nd play of the season”

  1. This was the first game I ever went to at Folsom field, pure magic!! I transferred from UNC in the spring of 1989 and had no expectations that CU would be any good. As we know now, 1989 and 1990 were arguably the best two seasons in CU football history, it was an amazing era for Buffs football and an incredible time to be in Boulder. I remember Darian Hagan’s 75 yard run like it was yesterday, it was clear that his less then spectacular performance in the 1988 Freedom Bowl was no indication of how special a player he was. Hagan, Bieniemy, Pritchard and Flanagan were all lightening in a bottle. I only spent my Junior and Senior years at CU, so I only witnessed two losses (one to Notre Dame in the 1990 Orange Bowl and the fluke loss to Illinois). I still bleed black and gold and hope that Mel Tucker can get us back to where the Buffs belong.

  2. What a memory. I had drove down from Stmt Spgs to enjoy my newest season ticket seat in SEC 120, about ROW 10. A guy and his girlfriend come down and he says,’Hey, you’re in our seats.” The place was still empty so I replied, “Yeah, so?” “So, move down, huh.” I moved. The girlfriend did most of the talking. She told me that I had to meet her sister; yeah right just watch the game. We played a game that whenever CU scored, we took a shot…that started quickly, thanks Darian! I met the sister the following April; the love of my life, Elaine and I were married one year later and shared many weekends at CU games and traveling to some of the best away games in the BUFFS modern history! The sister-in-law still does a lot of talking.

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