CU Game(s) of the Day – September 12th

NoteTo help us get through our CU football withdrawal, I’ll be posting a “Game of the Day” everyday through to Thanksgiving weekend, with links to some of the best CU games over the past 40 years.

September 12th … 1981: “Wal-ter! Wal-ter! Wal-ter” (that’s all you need to know) … 1992: Kordell Stewart leads CU to rout of Baylor … 1998: Goal-line stand nets win over Fresno State (would have been a nice result in 2020!) … 2015: Rout of UMass breaks CU’s nine-game losing streak … 

September 12, 1981 – Boulder           Colorado 45, Texas Tech 27

As if the 1980 season was just a bad dream, Colorado woke up and began the 1981 season in fine fashion, with a 45-27 rout of Texas Tech.

Granted, Texas Tech was only 5-6 in 1980.

Granted, Texas Tech was not a threat to win the Southwest Conference in 1981.

But a win was a win.

Sophomore quarterback Randy Essington passed for 345 yards, breaking the school record of 278 yards held by Jeff Knapple (1977 v. Kent State). Not to be outdone, a fellow sophomore, wingback Walter Stanley, caught five passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing the mark of 158 yards held by CU legend Cliff Branch (1970 v. Missouri).

In all, Essington and Stanley established nine new individual records at Colorado on the day. Not bad for a team which had set a school record for losses in a season the year before.

After the game, Fairbanks was quoted as saying: “I didn’t see too many holes in our first units.”

The 1-10 campaign of 1980 had been temporarily forgiven and forgotten.

Hope Springs Eternal

Well, this is more like it!”, we couldn’t help thinking during the game.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Colorado should have always played in baby blue uniforms.

Perhaps Texas Tech thought they were playing UCLA, and gave CU much to much credit. Or maybe CU sent the Tech coaches only the Oklahoma and Drake game films, and the Red Raiders just didn’t anticipate any difficulty in beating up on the Buffs.

Whatever it was, it was a joyous day in Boulder. The final score of 45-27 didn’t give the Buffs enough credit. It was 45-7 with 13:30 left in the game. It was a rout of Nebraskan proportions.

What makes this game noteworthy, though, was the play of Walter Stanley.

Stanley not only scored three touchdowns on the day, he scored in spectacular fashion. He scored on touchdown receptions of 87 and 74 yards, and threw in a 70 punt return for a touchdown for good measure.

In his Buff career, wingback Stanley scored only three receiving touchdowns, with two of them coming against Texas Tech. His career receiving yardage was a modest 490 yards, with 222 yards coming on this special day in 1981 Throw in 399 career rushing yards (0 TD’s), and those unfamiliar with CU football in the early 1980’s would question his significance.

Yet Stanley was the best known player on the CU roster. Why?

What made Walter Stanley a local icon was his talent as a kick returner.

In his freshman year, Stanley had tied the school record with a 100 yard kickoff against Oklahoma. His punt return for a touchdown against Tech reminded everyone that any time Walter Stanley touched the ball, something exciting could happen. From the Tech game on, anytime Colorado was set to return a kick (unfortunately, it was too often for a kickoff and not a punt return), the student section began chanting “Wal-ter! Wal-ter! Wal-ter!” in anticipation of another spectacular return.

Not often rewarded, the faithful always remembered the Texas Tech game, and hoped for a repeat performance.

(It was not to be a happy marriage for Walter Stanley and Colorado. Arrested for shooting a BB gun from the athletic dorm, Stanley later left school after an incident involving the re-sale of stolen textbooks from the CU bookstore. Stanley transferred to, but never played a down for, Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. Stanley’s talents would not ultimately be wasted, though, as he went on to play in the NFL for various teams from 1985-92).

Read full game coverage here

September 12, 1992 – at Baylor          No. 12 Colorado 57, Baylor 38

Heading off to Waco for the second game of the 1992 season, there was no chance Colorado was going to take the Baylor Bears lightly.

Baylor had defeated the Buffs 16-14 at Folsom Field in 1991, led by quarterback J.J. Joe’s 301 yards of total offense.

Traveling to Waco for only the third time in school history, Colorado exacted a measure of revenge for the 1991 upset in routing the Bears, 57-38.  Kordell Stewart, who completed 16-of-17 passes for 251 yards before yielding to an ankle injury, again placed his name in the record books.  Stewart completed his first nine passing attempts of the game against the Bears.  These nine completions, when combined with the final three straight completions of the Colorado State game, gave the sophomore quarterback a school-record 12 straight completions.

While the final score was impressive, the Buffs would have been just as content to leave Texas after the first 29 minutes of the game.  With just over a minute to go in the first half, the Buffs were up by a lopsided score of 33-3.  After spotting the Bears an opening 33-yard field goal to open the contest, the Colorado offense put on a display. A seven-yard touchdown pass from Kordell Stewart to tight end Christian Fauria capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive to give Colorado the lead for good late in the first quarter.

The Buffs upped the lead to 10-3 early in the second quarter on 50-yard field goal by Pat Blottiaux. On the Buffs’ next possession, it took the offense only three plays to cover 57 yards, with Stewart hitting Charles E. Johnson for a 35-yard score and a 17-3 lead. Just a few minutes later, the lead was 19-3, as Baylor quarterback J.J. Joe was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.

The second quarter onslaught continued with two more Colorado touchdowns within a minute of one another. With just under three minutes to go before halftime, Lamont Warren finished off a five-play, 46-yard drive to give Colorado a 26-3 lead. After Baylor quickly returned the ball to Colorado, Kordell Stewart hit Michael Westbrook for a 53-yard score and a 33-3 lead with 2:04 to play before halftime.

The offense was having its way with the Bear defense (witness the 94% completion rate of Stewart), and for the first time the defense was living up to its preseason billing.  Baylor had only seven net yards rushing on 12 attempts, while quarterback J.J. Joe had only one completion on 12 attempts.  An 80-yard touchdown pass from Joe to tailback David Mims cut the Buffs lead to 33-10 at the half, but the game was now the Buffs to lose.

With Stewart out for the rest of the game with a mid-foot sprain, Baylor attempted to make a comeback. The Bears out-scored the Buffs 14-3 in the third quarter to make the score 36-24, and give the 34,202 some hope for a miracle.

Subbing for the injured Stewart, junior quarterback Duke Tobin held his own, though, leading the Buffs to three fourth quarter touchdowns and a 19-point win. Lamont Warren scored twice early in the fourth quarter, first from four yards out, the second from 14 yards out, to give Colorado an insurmountable 50-24 lead. Tobin did have an interception returned for a touchdown midway through the quarter, but redeemed himself with a 39-yard touchdown pass to freshman Donnell Leomiti.

Wideout Michael Westbrook continued his impressive start to the 1992 campaign, collecting 11 balls for 186 yards and a score.  The 11 receptions for Westbrook set a new school mark, breaking the single game record of 10 catches set by Ed Reinhardt against Michigan State in 1984.

Colorado head coach Bill McCartney liked being 2-0, but saw that work still needed to be done:  “The overall offense has been very satisfactory through two weeks, but we don’t pretend that we’ve got all the answers to all the problems that lie ahead.” It was an interesting quote, especially considering that the Buffs were averaging 47 points and over 500 yards of total offense per game.

With this backdrop, Colorado’s next opponent, the hapless Minnesota Golden Gophers, did not appear to offer much resistance.  Minnesota had gone 2-9 in 1991 (including a 58-0 rout at the hands of the Buffs in Boulder), and had dropped its 1992 season opener at home to lowly San Jose State.  On paper, the game should have been a romp for the Buffs, who moved up to No. 11 in the polls with the win over Baylor.

But, as the saying goes, the game is not played on paper.

Continue reading game coverage here

September 12, 1998 – Boulder           No. 16 Colorado 29, Fresno State 21

Colorado quarterback Mike Moschetti, playing before the home fans for the first time, connected with sophomore wide receiver Javon Green for a 25-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter on what would prove to be the winning score as the No. 16 Buffs held off the Fresno State State Bulldogs, 29-21.

Colorado, which entered the game as a 21-½ point favorite, found itself behind 14-3 early in the second quarter before a stunned crowd of 42,623. Two touchdown runs by Bulldog quarterback Billy Volek, the second coming early in the second quarter, gave Buff fans more to worry about other than the light rain which fell sporadically throughout the game.

Junior wide receiver Marcus Stiggers scored the Buffs’ first touchdown of the afternoon with 3:38 to play before half on a 27-yard end around. The extra point attempt by Jeremy Aldrich failed, leaving the score at 14-9. Aldrich, who had earlier connected from 34 yards, then hit on a 30-yarder as the first half expired.

Fresno State still held the halftime lead, 14-12, but the momentum had clearly shifted, with the CU defense taking control of the game.

It wasn’t until late in the third quarter, however, that Colorado was finally able to take the lead. A 16-play, 80-yard drive (which took up over half of the third quarter game clock) was culminated by a one-yard touchdown run by Dwayne Cherrington, giving the Buffs a 19-14 advantage.

Jeremy Aldrich’s third field goal, this time from 32 yards out, upped the lead to 22-14 in the last minute of the third quarter. Then, on the Buffs’ next drive, the game was seemingly put out of reach when Mike Moschetti hit Javon Green for a 25-yard touchdown. The 16th-ranked Buffs  now led, 29-14, with no points or production from the Fresno State offense in over two quarters of play.

But, as CU fans were to discover would become a reoccurring theme for the young 1998 Buffs, nothing would ever come easy.

Fresno State tailback Jamie Kimbrough scored on a four-yard run to cap a surprisingly efficient three-play, 48-yard drive to bring the Bulldogs to within 29-21 with 6:56 still to play. After the Buffs held the ball for six plays and Fresno State three, the Buffs took over with 2:52 left at their own 28-yard line, needing only one first down to seal the win. Mike Moschetti was out with a rib injury sustained earlier in the fourth quarter, so sophomore quarterback Adam Bledsoe was given the call. Bledsoe and the offense failed to produce, however, making matters tense.

Then, disaster.

Junior punter Nick Pietsch’s punt was blocked, recovered by Fresno State at the Buffs’ two-yard line. Plenty of time remained for Fresno State to score, convert a two-point try, tie the game and force overtime.

What had seemed to be a comfortable victory only moments before was now in dire jeopardy of being squandered.

Fresno State’s first two plays netted one yard, as Nick Ziegler threw running back Jaime Kimbrough for a three yard loss, followed by a four yard run by the same back. On third-and-goal from the one-yard line, Bulldog quarterback Billy Volek, who had scored Fresno State’s first two touchdowns on short runs, got the call. Stuffed in the middle by Justin Bannan and Sean Jarne, Volek tried to run around the left side of the Buffs’ defensive line. CU defensive end Fred Jones, though, would have none of it, popping the quarterback and forcing a fumble. Defensive end Nick Ziegler fell on the ball at the Buffs’ two-yard line, and the game was finally in hand.

“We’re happy with the win,” said Neuheisel after the game. “But it certainly shows that maybe we’re not the team that everybody wrote about (after the impressive showing, a 42-14 win, against CSU)”.

Indeed, the young Buffs had showed their immaturity in falling behind 14-3 to a team which had finished 1997 with a 6-6 record and for which there was little enthusiasm for 1998.

“I’m upset about (the intensity level)”, said wide receiver Darrin Chiaverini after the contest. “This is a wake up call. We’ve got to go out there and play with high intensity and make some plays. We’ll respond.”

The schedule seemed to allow the Buffs the opportunity to “respond”. Utah State was up next, followed by Baylor and Oklahoma. Utah State was the only one of the three which had finished the 1997 season at .500 (6-6), while Baylor and Oklahoma had stumbled to marks of 2-9 and 4-8, respectively. The Buffs had suffered a letdown after the big opening win over CSU, and had narrowly escaped with the victory over Fresno State.

The Buffs could not afford too many more “wake up calls” before the more difficult portion of the schedule rolled around.

Long Distance

After witnessing the dominance the Buffs had had over CSU, even I, the eternal pessimist, was confident going into the Fresno State game.

The Buffs were back, and the momentum would surely carry through to the home opener. I was confident enough that when the Buffs kicked off at 1:00 p.m., I was working down at my office, rearranging our conference room. For a close game, I would have been at home, eyes glued to the television screen with the remote control at the ready. Even though I wouldn’t be able to watch the CU/Fresno State game (which was not televised, even regionally), I would have been able to obtain enough updates by way of the networks and ESPN to stay informed.

It was a good thing I didn’t get home until after halftime.

Had I seen a score of: Fresno State 14, Colorado 3 – as the score stood for much of the second quarter – I would have gone nuts. As it was, a score of: Colorado 19, Fresno State 14 in the third quarter was bad enough.

A one-score game? Nervous time.

What else could I do but sit and suffer with an upset stomach until the next update?

I called Brad.

Brad was not able to watch the game either, but he was listening to the game at his home in Grand Junction. By the time I called, Colorado had scored on a Jeremy Aldrich field goal to go up 22-14. A few moments later, the Buffs scored again on the Moschetti-to-Green 25-yarder, and I was able to hang up the phone.

29-14 was not overly impressive, but a win was a win.

Over the next half hour, I watched the network game of the week as I waited for updates to confirm CU’s win.

I didn’t like what I saw. The next posted score was 29-21, and Fresno State was back within one score. I called Brad again. I listened to Brad paraphrase the play-by-play from the radio as the Bledsoe-led Buffs went three-and-out. I nearly lost an eardrum as Brad screamed after the blocked punt.

I couldn’t hang up now.

Over the next few tension-filled minutes, with Fresno State on the Buffs’ goalline, I listened as Brad described the action. When Ziegler fell on the fumble to seal the win, the feeling was not so much of joy as it was of relief.

The Buffs had gotten by and were 2-0, and moved up to No. 15 in the country in the next poll.

I could not argue with the final results. The Buffs had received their “wake up call”, as Chiaverini had put it, and would put it all together against a smaller and slower Utah State squad.

Suurrre they would.

Continue reading story here

September 12, 2015 – Boulder           Colorado 48, UMass 14

Colorado rushed for 390 yards, dominating the final three quarters in pulling away from Massachusetts for a 48-14 victory. Michael Adkins rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown, with Christian Powell making the most of his eight carries, collecting 105 yards (a 13.1 yard average) and two scores, as the Buffs finished with a pair of 100-yard rushers for the first time in a game since 2010.

“I almost don’t know what to say it’s been so long (since a win),” said third-year CU coach Mike MacIntyre, whose team had lost nine consecutive games before Saturday.

MacIntyre’s quarterback, Sefo Liufau, did know what to say. “We had a chip on our shoulder and finally came out and played like we can,” said Liufau, who went 15-for-24 for 168 yards and a touchdown. “Our main objective was to get a win . . . we did and we’re excited.”

A week after opening the game in the worst way imaginable (three-and-out, blocked punt, opposition touchdown), the UMass game opened about as well as any Buff fan could hope. The Colorado defense forced a three-and-out (aided by an overthrow on the game’s first play which could have gone for a Minuteman touchdown), with the Buff offense responding with nine-play, 60-yard scoring drive.

After getting the drive going with a 13-yard completion from Liufau to Bryce Bobo, running back Michael Adkins took over with three runs covering 20 yards getting the Buffs to the redzone. Two plays later, Christian Powell bulled his way in from 15 yards out, and it was 7-0, Colorado, less than four minutes into the game.

A second three-and-out by the Buff defense had the 35,094 fans on hand thinking rout. Instead, the Buffs went three-and-out themselves, with UMass countering with a 56-yard scoring drive in only four plays. A two-yard run by Jamal Wilson tied the score at 7-7 at the midway point of the first quarter.

The Colorado offense, backed up after a blocking penalty on the ensuing kickoff, then put together one of its best drives of the afternoon. The Buffs pieced together a 14-play, 91-yard drive, taking 7:30 of game clock to retake the lead. A roughing the passer call got the ball out from the shadow of the CU goalposts, with a 34-yard completion from Liufau to Phillip Lindsay on a third-and-seven play the spark. This time, Liufau did the honors, taking the ball in from seven yards out to give CU a 14-7 lead on the last play of the first quarter.

Rather than fold, the Minutemen responded. UMass posted a 79-yard touchdown drive of its own. An 18-yard touchdown pass from Brian Frohnapfel to Matt Michel tied the score again, at 14-14, early in the second quarter.

The blow-for-blow continued on CU’s next series, with the Buffs again answering the bell. Michael Adkins carried the ball for the final three plays of the six-play drive, with the final carry covering 21 yards. Colorado 21, UMass 14.

Finally, UMass was not able to match CU’s score. A sack of Frohnapfel by Chidobe Awuzie got the Minutemen off schedule, forcing a punt …

Except it wasn’t a punt.

A low snap sent UMass punter Logan Laurent to his knees, counting as a 14-yard loss instead of a punt, giving the Buffs the ball at the Minuteman 28-yard line.

Poised to take advantage of the UMass miscue, the Buffs were only able to drive as far as the 14-yard line. Diego Gonzalez was then called upon to give the Buffs a two score lead. Gonzalez was good from 31 yards out, and the Buffs were up, 24-14, midway through the second quarter.

Continue reading game story here

How the Other Half Lives

I didn’t want to leave.

It was midway through the third quarter of Colorado’s 48-14 romp over Massachusetts. The Buffs had turned a 31-14 halftime advantage into a 41-14 laugher with two scoring drives to open the second half. Even for a cynic like me, there was the pleasant acknowledgement that the outcome of this game was no longer in doubt.

Why would we want to leave?

We weren’t talking about leaving the game, mind you.

Brad just wanted to meet a friend over in the Balch Fieldhouse beer garden, and the move made a certain amount of sense. It was certainly warm in the east stands – the 77-degree temperature at the noon-time start had certainly risen well into the 80’s, and the reflected light from the half-empty bleachers only made it more uncomfortable. It was also inarguable that the Fieldhouse would be cooler. Plus, the game was being shown on several big screen televisions inside the Fieldhouse, so we wouldn’t miss any of the action.

Still, I didn’t want to leave our seats.

Simply put, I was having too much of a good time seeing how the other half of the college football world lived.

It had been a long time since the Buff Nation had been afforded the opportunity to watch the home team dominate a game. To dictate tempo. To control the line of scrimmage. To pick up turnovers while making none of their own.

To win going away.

Several times during the UMass game I thought to myself, “So this is what it’s like for other teams to play Colorado”.

The Buffs have been beaten up so many times in the past decade. It has become commonplace for Buff opponents to put together scoring drives seemingly at will, with a full playbook of options. First-and-tens begat second-and-threes which begat more first-and-tens as Colorado fans hoped in vain for a turnover … or at least a third down.

Not that the outcome of the Massachusetts game was a given from the outset.

Continue reading game essay here

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