This Week in CU History – With CU at the Game Supplements

From the Daily Camera … A look back at some of the memorable moments in Colorado football history for the week of August 31st -September 6th:

1989 – Sept. 4, No. 14 Colorado 27, Texas 6: In the opening game of the Buffs’ undefeated regular season – and one of only two Monday games ever played by CU – sophomore Darian Hagan made his first career start at quarterback and was exceptional. He ran for 116 yards and a touchdown and completed 7-of-12 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” Hagan said after the game.

From the CU at the Game Archives story of the game

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.

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A YouTube look at Darian Hagan highlights (run against Texas the first play shown) … 

1997 – Sept. 6, No. 8 Colorado 31, No. 24 Colorado State 21: The only time in 91 meetings between these teams that both came in ranked among the top 25. Down 14-7 at the half, CU got a 26-yard interception return for touchdown from Rashidi Barnes to kickstart a 24-point surge to change the game.

From the CU at the Game Archives story of the game

Under partly cloudy skies in Boulder, the 1997 campaign kicked off about as well as any Buff fan could hope.

A good kickoff return (not something you could say happened all that often in 1996) allowed CU to start the season at their own 39 yard line. Eleven plays later (seven of them runs), Herchell Troutman busted over from the one yard line, and CU had a 7-0 lead with 9:52 remaining in the opening quarter.

If the Buff Nation could have just freeze-framed the season right there.

The remainder of the first half was all Colorado State. After recovering a fumble at the CSU 34-yard line late in the first quarter, the Colorado offense generated no yards in three plays, and long-range kicker Jason Lesley missed a 51-yard field goal attempt. That was as close as the Buffs would get to a score the rest of the first half.

Moses Moreno threw the first of his three touchdown passes two minutes into the second quarter, a ten-yard floater to Kevin McDougal. When Moreno connected with receiver Darran Hall on a 61 yard score with 4:17 left in the half, the Folsom Field scoreboard read: Colorado State 14, Colorado 7.

Fortunately for the Buffs, the game was 60 minutes, at least eight of which Ram fans would love to have back. On the third play of the second half, Moreno dropped back to pass, but his pass to the right flat was picked off and returned 26 yards for a touchdown by Rashidi Barnes. 14-14.

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1998 – Sept. 5, Colorado 42, No. 15 CSU 14: In the first Rocky Mountain Showdown to be played in Denver, the Buffs stunned the Rams, riding high after winning at No. 23 Michigan State a week earlier.

From the CU at the Game Archives story for the game

Ralphie IV, only 16 months old and a mere 500 pounds, made her debut as the Buffs’ mascot before a crowd of 76,036 in a sold-out Mile High Stadium and a national television audience in the first-ever college football game at Mile High Stadium. The young buffalo looked small and unsure as she made her initial run, but came through nonetheless.

The same could be said for the young Colorado Buffaloes. Only 40 of the 102 players on the Buffs’ roster had ever seen action in a college game before that warm Saturday evening. In all, 12 Colorado players made their first career starts.

Youth was served.

The Buffs dominated, roughing up the beleaguered Rams from Colorado State, 42-14. New quarterback Mike Moschetti was all that the Buffs could have hoped for, completing 21-of-32 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Even more importantly, Moschetti committed no turnovers, and provided the leadership the Buffs had been longing for.

The largest crowd to ever watch a college sporting event in the state of Colorado were on hand to witness the first neutral site game in the 105-year, 70-game history of the series between Colorado and Colorado State, and, has been the case in most of those games (53-15-2), CU came out victorious.

The Buffs, unranked in the preseason for the first time since 1988, raced out to a 13-0 lead. Two Jeremy Aldrich field goals in the first quarter were topped by a 53-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti to Marcus Stiggers early in the second quarter. A 36-yard touchdown pass by the Rams with just over a minute to play before halftime kept the game closer, at 13-7, than it should have been (CSU had only 67 yards of total offense in the first half).

The second half opened with another Ram touchdown, and, suddenly, the green-and-gold half of the stadium was rocking. Colorado State’s 14-13 lead, though, lasted only as long as it took for Moschetti to engineer an eight-play, 79-yard drive. Javon Green caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti with 7:05 to play in the third quarter, and the Buffs never looked back.

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2001 – Sept. 1, Colorado 41, No. 24 CSU 14: Rebounding from a loss to Fresno State the week before, the Buffs dominated the Rams on the ground, as Bobby Purify (191 yards, 1 TD) and Chris Brown (121 yards, 2 TD) helped CU rack up 315 rushing yards.

From the CU at the Game Archives story for the game

For a change, it was Colorado who seized early momentum in a big game.

Junior cornerback Donald Strickland returned an interception for a touchdown in the first minute of play to set the tone as the Colorado dominated No. 24 Colorado State, 41-14.

Playing before 75,022 at the new Invesco Field at Mile High, the Buffs’ secondary, which had given up big plays to the Rams in two consecutive losses, came up with four interceptions on the afternoon, returning two for scores.  “They got a brief glimpse of the defense you are going to see this season,” said Strickland.

To compliment a dominating defense, the CU offense clicked on all cylinders.

Bobby Purify and Chris Brown both rushed for career highs, leading the Buffs to over 300 yards of rushing offense for the first time in almost six seasons.  Purify put up 191 yards alone, including an 18-yard scoring run in the first quarter to put the Buffs up 14-0.  Brown contributed 121 yards and two short-yardage scores.  With the Buffs crunching out 315 yards of rushing offense, quarterback Craig Ochs only had to be efficient in the passing game, and he was, connecting on 15 of his 18 passes.

CSU did make an attempt to make a game of it after Purify put the Buffs up by two scores in the first quarter, as H-back Joel Dreessen scored on a three yard pass from quarterback D.J. Busch to cut the CU lead to 14-7.  The Rams would not score again until the fourth quarter, however, as the Buffs scored 17 unanswered points to put the game out of reach.

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2004 – Sept 4, Colorado 27, CSU 24: After an offseason of turmoil around the program with a recruiting “scandal” that put coach Gary Barnett’s job in jeopardy, CU opened the season with a wild win at Folsom Field. CSU marched to the 1-yard line with 30 seconds to play but was stuffed twice, including the Buffs’ JJ Billingsley tackling Tristian Walker as time expired.

From the CU at the Game Archive story for the game

A pitch from Colorado State quarterback Justin Holland to running back Tristan Walker was stopped at the Colorado three-yard line by defensive backs  J.J. Billingsley and Lorenzo Sims as time expired, preserving a wild 27-24 Buff win. The frenetic finish, before a record Folsom Field crowd of 54,954, gave Colorado head coach Gary Barnett and his players something other than scandal to talk about for the first time in 2004.

The game started out about as well as the Buffs could have hoped.  Colorado scored on its opening drive, a one-yard plunge by senior running back Bobby Purify.  Junior quarterback Joel Klatt scored from a yard out on the Buffs’ second drive, giving the Buffs an opening quarter 14-0 lead.  The lead was up to 17-0 before CSU quarterback Justin Holland connected with tight end Matt Bartz 23 seconds before halftime to make the score at the break 17-7.

The second half witnessed the pendulum of emotion swing back and forth between the two benches.  Colorado State climbed back into the contest, tying the score at 17-all with a 26-yard field goal by Jeff Babcock early in the fourth quarter.  The Buffs regained momentum with a 55-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Mason Crosby.  A few plays later, the Buffs seemingly regained command of the contest when junior linebacker Brian Iwuh intercepted a Holland pass, returning the pick 37 yards for a touchdown and a 27-17 Colorado lead with just 6:25 remaining.

The Rams were not finished, however.  Holland quickly led CSU down-field, hitting Tristan Walker from 31 yards out with 4:35 still left to be played, making the score 27-24.  The Buffs could not move the ball on their next possession, punting the ball back to the Rams with 2:36 remaining, setting the stage for the game’s final drama.

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2005 – Sept. 3, Colorado 31, CSU 28: The largest crowd in Folsom Field history (54,972) watched CU rally from a 21-10 fourth quarter deficit. The Buffs scored 18 straight to take the lead, but CSU tied it with 36 seconds left. CU quickly responded, though, as Mason Crosby, celebrating his 21st birthday, booted the game-winning 47-yard field goal with four seconds to play.

From the CU at the Game Archives story for the game

For the fourth year in a row, the “Rocky Mountain Showdown” between Colorado and Colorado State came down to the final minute of play.

For the third year in a row, the Buffs prevailed.

Colorado opened its 2005 campaign by defeating the Rams, 31-28, before a sweltering Folsom Field record crowd of 54,972. Mason Crosby connected from 47 yards out with four seconds remaining to give the Buffs the victory.

Unlike 2003 and 2004, when the Buffs watched double digit leads evaporate against the Rams, only to win those games in the waning moments, much of the 2005 contest was controlled by the Rams.

The Rams took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a one-yard run by Jimmy Green. The Buffs then countered in the second quarter with ten unanswered points on a 32-yard Mason Crosby field goal and a one-yard run on fourth down by senior running back Lawrence Vickers.

The Colorado lead lasted just two minutes, however, as Buff killers Justin Holland and David Anderson hooked up on a one yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a 14-10 halftime lead.

The Rams stretched the lead to 21-10 late in the third quarter, and it appeared as if the Buffs would fall to Colorado State in Boulder for the first time since 1986.

The Buffs rallied, however, assisted by four Justin Holland interceptions. Sophomore running back Hugh Charles, who would post 101 yards rushing on the day, scored on a 29-yard run to cut the lead to 21-18 (after a two-point conversion pass from Joel Klatt to Evan Judge). With 2:32 remaining, the dependable Mason Crosby hit from 32 yards out to tie the score.

The game appeared headed for an overtime with the score tied at 21-21 … but the two teams were just getting warmed up.

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