September 10th – Boulder          California 36, Colorado 33 OT

California quarterback Zach Maynard hit receiver Keenan Allen with a 5-yard touchdown pass in overtime Saturday at Folsom Field, giving the Bears a 36-33 victory over Colorado and keeping the Buffaloes winless in the Jon Embree Era.

Colorado got a record-setting passing performance from senior quarterback Tyler Hansen, who completed 28-of-49 passes for a school-record 474 yards and three touchdowns. Two of the scoring tosses went to sophomore Paul Richardson, who finished with 11 catches for 282 yards – also a single-game school record.

The new standards were not enough, however, as the Buffs squandered opportunities – four red-zone chances; zero touchdowns – and hurt their own chances – 12 penalties; 98 yards – leaving most of the sun-baked crowd of 49,532 disappointed along with their head coach.

The game started about as well as any Buff fan could have hoped. The Colorado defense forced a three-and-out from the California offense in the first possession of the game. On the Buffs’ first possession, the offense moved smartly down the field, but stalled at the Bear nine yard line. Rodney Stewart, who would have 73 yards rushing on the day, was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-one to turn the Buffs away without any points.

Cal responded with three first downs of their own, before Buff linebacker Douglas Rippy hurried Cal quarterback Zach Maynard into a pass which was intercepted by CU linebacker Jon Major at the Colorado 40-yard line.

Once again, the Colorado offense looked sharp – until it got to the Cal redzone. Once again, the Buff offense stalled. Unlike the first drive, however, the Buffs came away with points, as freshman kicker Will Oliver was able to overcome a bad snap to sneak a 27-yard field goal through the uprights. With 2:07 left in the first quarter, Colorado had its first lead of the season, 3-0.

The lead was short-lived, though, as Cal put together a ten-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead. A Zach Maynard to Nico Dumont two-yard touchdown pass gave the Bears the lead early in the second quarter, with the score remaining at 6-3 after Will Pericak blocked the extra point.

The two teams traded field goal drives before the Bears scored on a Maynard to Anthony Miller pass good for seven yards to give California a ten-point lead late in the second quarter.

Halftime score: California 16; Colorado 6

The Colorado offense, kept out of the opposition’s endzone in the first half for the second consecutive game, responded the same way it did against Hawai’i – by taking the second half kickoff and scoring a touchdown.

A ten-play, 80-yard drive was capped by a Tyler Hansen 37-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Ryan Deehan. The score brought the CU crowd, rallied by the presence of the 2001 Big 12 championship team which was honored at halftime, something to cheer about.

The Buffs got the ball back after twice holding Cal to a three-and-out (the first effort nullified by a roughing the punter penalty), but could do nothing with the ball. Instead, it was Cal which scored next. Taking over after what was deemed to be a partially blocked punt, the Bears took over at the Colorado 35-yard line. Four plays later, the score was 23-13, with Zach Maynard connecting with Anthony Miller for his third touchdown pass of the afternoon.

Down ten points, the Colorado offense sprung to life.

Aided by a personal foul call which kept the drive alive, Colorado took advantage of the break. On a third-and-six at the CU 34-yard line, Tyler Hansen hit sophomore wide receiver Paul Richardson for a short gain. Two moves later, though, Richardson was off for a 66-yard touchdown. Suddenly, Colorado was back in the game: California 23; Colorado 20.

Then the Buffs’ defense took a turn at creating excitement.

Cal’s next possession went: incompletion; incompletion; sack by Parker Orms for an eight-yard loss.

The Buff Nation went from cheers to silence a few moments later, as star receiver Paul Richardson came up lame after returning the Cal punt four yards to the Colorado 22-yard line. Richardson sat out the next play as Rodney Stewart was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on the final play of the third quarter.

Richardson was back on the field for the first play of the final quarter, however. Already having a great day – eight catches for 188 yards and a touchdown to that point – Richardson found his way into the Colorado record books as the final stanza opened. Given single coverage from the slot, Richardson received a Tyler Hansen offering about midfield, then out-raced the California secondary for a 78-yard touchdown. In 121 years of Colorado football, two players had eclipsed the 200-yard mark receiving, with Walter Stanley (in 1981 v. Texas Tech) sharing the record for receiving yards in a game – 222 yards – with Rae Carruth (in 1996 v. Missouri).

More importantly, Colorado, for the first time since early in the second quarter, had reclaimed the lead. Colorado 27; California 23, with 14:48 to play.

Instead of holding the lead, though, the Colorado defense surrended another long drive. The Bears methodically put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 19 yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson. With 9:50 to play, the Buffs were now down, 30-27.

The two offenses, which would combine for 952 yards of total offense on the day, traded three-and-outs before Colorado put togther what could have been – should have been – a game-winning drive.

Colorado took over at its own fifteen yard line with 7:10 to play in the game. On the drive, Colorado converted a third-and-five with an eight yard pass to Paul Richardson, as well as a fourth-and-one at the Cal 36 with a seven yard bootleg by quarterback Tyler Hansen. Then, with a third-and-five at the Cal 24, Hansen hit Richardson again for a ten yard gain to the Cal 14 yard line.

With the game clock ticking under two minutes, the Buffs appeared poised to score and take the lead with little time remaining for Cal. On the next play from scrimmage, though, the Buffs hurt themselves once again. A Rodney Stewart run to the Cal four yard line was nullified by a holding penalty. Instead of second-and-one at the Cal four, the Buffs now faced a first-and-20 at the 24. A false start pushed the ball back another five yards before the Buffs started moving in the right direction again.

Three plays netted fourteen yards, with Will Oliver coming into to try and tie the game with 30 seconds remaining. The freshmas had no difficulties hitting his third field goal of the game, this time from 32 yards out.

End of Regulation: California 30; Colorado 30

California won the coin toss to start overtime, electing to play defense. Overtime, like the game itself, was a series of highs and lows, often within seconds of one another.

The Colorado overtime possession started with consecutive runs by Rodney Stewart of nine and 12 yards. First-and-goal at the Cal four yard line. Two more Stewart runs went backward, though, and when a Hansen-to-Richardson pass fell incomplete, the Buffs had to settle for a 22-yard Will Oliver field goal to take a tenuous overtime lead, 33-30.

After converting a third-and-one at the 16 yard line to open its overtime possession, Cal moved backward. A false start penalty was followed by a face mask penalty. All of the sudden, Cal was faced with a first-and-30 at the Colorado 35-yard line. All of the sudden, even a game-tying field goal was in jeopardy.

All of the sudden, though, the tide turned one final time. Zach Maynard hit Keenan Allen for a 32-yard gain to to Colorado three yard line. A touchdown pass from Maynard to Allen was then only a formality, as Cal escaped with an overtime victory.

Final score: California 36, Colorado 33 OT

“Disappointed. I thought we would win. We continually find a way not to finish,” said a – well, disappointed – head coach Jon Embree said of the Buffs’ loss. As to where he takes his 0-2 team from here, Embree was direct and to the point. “It starts with me,” Embree said. “When they see me Monday, I am going to be optimistic. I am going to point out the good, the bad and the ugly, and start motivating them and preparing them to try and go win a football game.

“I am not going to let them drag around. We are going to go out, we are going to practice, we are going to coach them hard, we are going to keep being demanding, and we are not going to lower the standard. We are not going to give them the old, ‘atta boy.’ I keep the standard where it is at. We the coaching staff has to get them to that standard somehow, someway.”

On the day, Colorado was as efficient on offense as it has been in some time … at least until the Buffs hit the red-zone. The Buffs amassed 582 yards of total offense, with 474 of those yards coming through the air. The total offensive yardage was the most for the Buffs since posting 518 against Nebraska in the 65-51 win in 2007; the 474 yards passing the most since 2005. Tyler Hansen passed for all of the Buffs’ 474 yards, surpassing the record of 465 set in 1999 by Mike Moschetti. When adding in his 26 yards rushing, Hansen tied Moschetti as the only players in Colorado history to hit the 500-yard mark in total offense. “I’d rather have the win, I’d be ok throwing 20 yards and getting a ‘W’, said Hansen., “It feels good getting the passing game going, we got to get the running game going though, we got to get those guys up front to pull the ball.”

Joining Hansen in the record books was sophomore wide receiver Paul Richardson. In 121 years of Colorado football, only two players had ever posted over 200 yards receiving in a game (as noted above, both had exactly 222 yards – Walter Stanley in 1981 v. Texas Tech, and Rae Carruth v. Missouri in 1996). Richardson shattered the old record, hauling in 11 catches (tying a school record) for a new standard of 284 yards. After the game, Richardson was as non-plussed as Tyler Hansen in setting a new record. “I didn’t even know I broke the record,” said Richarson, “but without the coaches putting together the game plan and without (Tyler Hansen) being able to throw the ball it would not have happened.”

Notable in the records which Hansen and Richardson broke is that, without exception, the other records were set in games in which the Buffs won. What’s more, they usually won handily. In Mike Moschetti’s record-setting performance against San Jose State in 1999, Colorado cruised to a 63-35 victory. When the Buff Nation watched Walter Stanley set the standard at 222 yards, Colorado was winning the 1981 season opener against Texas Tech by a 45-21 margin. When Rae Carruth tied the mark, in came in a 41-13 romp over Missouri in 1996.

No such luck for the 2011 Buffs. Colorado, with the non-conference loss to Cal, fell to 0-2 on the season. We’ve got a game next week, you know this is already behind us,” said linebacker Douglas Rippy, who led the Buffs with 8 1/2 tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. “At the end of the day it’s a game, but you still want to win, and we got to get ready for the next one.”

Echoed fellow linebacker Jon Major, whose first interception of his career set up the Buffs’ first score of the game. “It’s a lot of emotion; a lot of fire,” Major said on the Buffs’ need and desire to bounce back from an 0-2 start. “Mark my words, but this is going to be a pivotal moment of the season, so we’ve got to respond.”

 

Game Notes –

– Colorado’s loss dropped the Buffs to 5-5 all-time in overtime games, the last overtime game coming in a 17-14 victory over West Virginia in 2008.

– While the Buffs suffered from penalties (12 for 98 yards), the Buffs did not commit a turnover, and did not allow a sack (after allowing seven to Hawai’i in the opener). The Cal game marked the first time since 1972 in which Colorado did not commit a turnover and did not allow a sack, yet still did not win the game (14-0 in such games over the past 39 seasons).

– Freshman wide receiver Tyler McCulloch started against Cal, becoming just the seventh true freshman to earn a start in Colorado history. McCulloch joins cornerback Greg Henderson, who became the sixth member of the club in the game against Hawai’i. Against Cal, McCulloch had two catches for 11 yards.

– Junior offensive lineman Ryan Dannewitz earned his first career start against Cal. It was the 24th game for Dannewitz in his career. Dannewitz played 81 of 82 plays on offense at left tackle, and graded out at over 80% for the game.

– Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen became just the tenth quarterback in Colorado history to pass for over 400 yards in a game, setting the new high water mark at 474. As a team, though, the record of 533 yards remained standing (as Mike Moschetti was spelled by Zac Colvin in the rout of San Jose State in 1999). Hansen also set a record for the most passes in a game without throwing an interception, with 49. The previous record was held by Cody Hawkins, who had 44 passes without a pick against Oklahoma in 2010.

– Sophomore receiver Paul Richardson set the new record for reception yards at 284, besting the old mark by 62 yards. Richardson also tied the school record for receptions in a game, with 11, a record shared with five other receivers (most recent: Markques Simas v. Oklahoma State in 2009). Richardson also made a quantum leap up the all-time reception yard list. Coming into the game against Cal, Richardson had 563 yards receiving, good enough for 53rd on the all-time list. With his total raised to 847, Richardson rose 24 places, to 29th on the all-time list.

– In blocking an extra point early in the second quarter, defensive lineman Will Pericak became the first Buff to block a kick since James Garee pulled off the feat in the Champs Sports Bowl against Clemson in 2005, a span of 195 PAT attempts.

– Freshman kicker Will Oliver continues to impress. Oliver went four-for-four on field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder in the second quarter. Oliver’s 52-yard effort was the longest by a true freshman in CU history, with the only other two such connections being made by Tom Field in 1979 (of 51 and 50 yards) … Mason Crosby, in case you are wondering had a long of 44 yards in his freshman season.

– Oliver also tied the record for the most field goals in a game with his four scores. Only Jeremy Aldrich, who hit four against Nebraska in 1996, was able to pull off that feat as a freshman.

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