October 11th – Boulder           Colorado 50, Kansas 47 OT

Brian Calhoun scored on a twelve-yard run up the middle of the Kansas defense on Colorado’s third play of overtime, lifting the Buffs to a wild 50-47 win.

Both teams had double digit leads on a day which witnessed Colorado come back five different times to tie the game or take the lead.

The Buffs rallied from deficits which, at various stages of the game stood at: 7-0, 21-17, 35-24, 38-30, 44-38 and 47-44 in a scoring display in which the two teams combined for 1,184 yards of total offense.

Colorado posted 598 of those yards, led by quarterback Joel Klatt, back for his first start since separating his shoulder against Washington State. Klatt passed for 419 yards and two touchdowns, scoring a third on a one yard run. His 54 passes overall set a new school record, as did his 38 completions.

On a day where the offenses dominated, Kansas started early, scoring on a 64-yard pass from quarterback Bill Whittemore to Brandon Rideau less than two minutes into the game. The Buffs countered with 17 unanswered points, with Klatt’s one-yard scoring run sandwiched between a 48-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to tight end Joe Klopfenstein and a 23-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

Then it was the Jayhawks’ turn to dominate, scoring 28 second quarter points to the Buffs’ seven.

Jayhawk signal caller Bill Whittemore scored on two short runs, throwing for a third score, a 41-yard “Hail Mary” to Charles Gordon, with no time remaining in the half. Keeping the Buffs in the game was a 25-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to D.J. Hackett with five minutes left in the quarter. Still, even with the Hacket touchdown, the Buffs trailed the Jayhawks at halftime, 35-24.

Kansas had not only scored 35 points in the first half against the CU defense, it had already amassed 372 yards of total offense.

Rather than surrender, however, the Buffs rallied once again.

Led by Brian Calhoun, who gained 102 of his season-high 135 yards in the second half, the Buffs stormed back. The Buffs started the second half on a 15-play, 80-yard drive, culminated in a two-yard scoring run by Daniel Jolly. After a Kansas field goal, the Buffs tied the game at 38-all on a Jolly one-yard run.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Kansas regained the lead on five yard pass from Whittemore to Mark Simmons. Colorado cornerback Vance Washington blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the score at 44-38. Two Mason Crosby field goals later, the second from 23 yards out with just 14 seconds to play, sent the game into overtime.

Crosby, who would garner Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his three field goal effort, was not fazed when the Jayhawks called time out on three consecutive occasions. “It was definitely the most pressure I’ve ever had”, said the freshman kicker of his game-tying kick. “It helped me out that Kansas called time outs. It lowered my nerves and definitely calmed me down.”

Colorado won the overtime coin toss, putting the Kansas offense on the field first. The Jayhawks did not manage a first down, settling for a 35-yard field goal and a 47-44 lead. Calhoun did all the work for the Buffs in overtime, running for nine yards, for four yards and a first down, and for 12 yards up the middle for the game-winner.

“That was an exciting and fun game to play,” said Klatt. “This team battled back like we did in the first two games.  “This was a huge boost for us.”

Said Gary Barnett of the win: “That was just great resiliency by our guys. It wasn’t a gem, but it was a tremendous effort.”

There were heroes aplenty for the Buffs.

In addition to the numbers put up by Klatt, Calhoun, and Crosby, there were the 179 total yards rushing by the Buffs, the most in a game all season. Jeremy Bloom finished with 159 all-purpose yards, including five catches for 97 yards. Daniel Jolly, who only had six carries on the afternoon, made the most of his opportunities, scoring twice.

The 3-3 Buffs had their first win in a month. “We needed it,” said Barnett. “Just to feel good for a week … “.

With the win came renewed hope for the season. Left for dead after two blowout losses and an embarrassing defeat at the hands of lowly Baylor, the Buffs found themselves in the midst of a race for the Big 12 North crown. Four teams, including the Buffs, had 1-1 conference records. Missouri, which had lost the week before to Kansas, defeated Nebraska, 41-24, to join Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas with 1-1 conference records. Kansas State, a preseason top ten pick, had lost three in a row. The Wildcats, CU’s next opponent, were 4-3 overall. After being upset by Marshall, KSU fell to Texas, 24-20, and Oklahoma State, 38-34. True enough, these were close losses to good teams, but the Wildcats were nonetheless 0-2 in conference play.

As a result, despite giving up 40+ points in four consecutive games, the Buffs controlled their own destiny.

“Maybe this game will be a catalyst for us to be a better defensive team,” Barnett said. “Who knows …. ?”

Then again, maybe not.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Boulder in early October. Sunny skies and 55-degrees. A crisp fall day. Warm, but with just a hint of cooler days to come. Enough leaves on the ground to kick through with the playful abandon of youth, but still enough leaves on the trees to make for colorful, frame-worthy photos of campus.

October 11, 2003 – perfect football weather for Colorado v. Kansas.

Ninety seven points scored. A Buff overtime win.


But I wasn’t there.

Normally, I would have been in town for the game. There was a gap in the CU home schedule between the CSU, UCLA, Washington State trilogy and the Oklahoma game the last weekend in October. A trip to Boulder for the Kansas game normally would have been a no-brainer. I would have been there for the ecstacy, the agony, and the relief of the 50-47 overtime win over the Jayhawks.

But I was in Bozeman.


Blame Canada.

The Columbus Day holiday in the United States matches up with Thanksgiving in Canada. My wife, Lee, had been in Edmonton, Alberta, since late August as part of her year-long internship at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. Her first opportunity to come home was for the three-day weekend which coincided with the Canadian Thanksgiving. My choices: be home to see my wife for the first time in seven weeks, or head to Boulder to watch a team which had lost to Baylor (Baylor!) the previous week.

I stayed home.

That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t living and dying with the Buffs in the waning moments.

The CU website gave fans almost instantaneous access to the play-by-play of Buff games. When the game went into overtime, I left the ESPN Bottom Line updates (and whatever game happened to be on at the time – I wasn’t paying much attention) for the computer. The computer screen showed total yards, individual statistics, and, most importantly, gave the updates for the most recent five plays. The computer dutifully “refreshed” itself after each play. I watched the Kansas overtime drive unfold, barely breathing: Incomplete pass; gain of eight; loss of one. Time for a field goal and a 47-44 lead.

Then, suddenly, the computer lost its ability to “refresh”.

The same screen kept coming up again and again. No updates!!

I was in serious pain.

What had happened? Was the game over? Who won? Then, it occurred to me that while I was waiting for updates, I had heard a little “click” from our caller ID device. Someone had tried to call in, but the phone did not ring because I was on the internet. Had this call interfered with my connection with the CU website?

I went back and reloaded the website. Still on the same play. Now I was at least ten minutes from my latest update. I was frantic. Desperate, I clicked on the ESPN website. I clicked on the icon for “Scores”. Loading, loading … “Hurry up” I mumbled at my uncooperative monitor. Okay, click on “Big 12 scores”. Loading, loading … Okay, scroll down. Oklahoma destroying Texas. Oklahoma State upsetting Kansas State.

Wait, there it is ….

“Colorado 50, Kansas, 47″.

I let out a breath for the first time in the last fifteen minutes.

As it turned out, the call which had messed up my internet updates was from Brad, calling from Folsom Field. While I was waiting for the updates on the computer, Brad had an in-house update from the 72nd row. Had I not been on the computer, I would have known the outcome of the game a few tortured minutes earlier.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Game Notes

– The 97 combined points easily set a record for the CU/KU series, besting the 82 points put up just the year before (a 53-29 CU win).

– Quarterback Joel Klatt’s school record 54 pass attempts surpassed the record of 51 jointly held by Randy Essington (in a 40-14 loss to Nebraska, 10/9/82) and Steve Vogel (in a 33-10 loss to Kansas State, 11/20/82).

– Klatt’s new mark for completions, 38, bested the mark of 33 set by Koy Detmer (in a 24-24 tie with Oklahoma, 10/17/92).

– Klatt’s 419 yards passing was the fourth most ever by a Buff; his 424 yards of total offense ranked seventh; and this total plays of 58 tied him for the fourth most ever in a single game.

– During the game, the Buffs converted on seven consecutive third down attempts, the second longest streak in school history (the record of ten in a row being set vs. Kansas in a 35-18 win, 11/12/66).

– Kansas, which had come to Folsom Field sporting a 4-1 record, would go on to lose four of their next five games. A 36-7 win over Iowa State in the regular season finale left the Jayhawks with a 6-6 record, good enough for a Citrus Bowl invitation. There, Kansas fell hard to North Carolina State, 56-26, finishing the 2003 campaign with a 6-7 record (3-5 in Big 12 play).


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