Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 25

Previously posted:

As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions as we count down my favorite 40 games and favorite 40 players of my 40 years as a Buff …

Top 40 Favorite Games … No. 25

August 30, 2003 – Colorado 42, No. 23 Colorado State 35 – Klatt’s “electrifying performance” in upset win

From the Game Story in the CU at the Game Archives …

Sophomore quarterback Joel Klatt was the unlikely hero in leading Colorado to a 42-35 win over its in-state rival, Colorado State, in the 2003 season-opener for both teams.

Prior to completing 21-of-34 passes for 402 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Rams, Klatt’s career numbers were as follows: a total of three passes, completing none.

Yet before 76,219 rain-soaked fans at Invesco Field (the largest crowd to ever witness a college sporting event in the state of Colorado) and a national television audience on ESPN, Klatt out-performed the Rams’ senior quarterback, Bradlee Van Pelt.

After CSU took a 7-0 first quarter lead, Colorado erupted for 28 second quarter points. Bobby Purify tied the score with a six-yard run, but the Rams quickly jumped back out on top with a 32-yard Van Pelt touchdown pass. The remainder of the quarter belonged to Joel Klatt. The former walk-on connected with Derek McCoy for an 82-yard score, then gave the Buffs their first lead when D.J. Hackett turned an acrobatic catch of a Klatt pass at the two-yard line into a touchdown. Colorado took a 28-14 halftime lead when Klatt hit John Donahoe from 45 yards out with just 29 seconds remaining.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, with Colorado going up 35-21 when Klatt hit Derek McCoy for another long score, this time for 78 yards.

Immediately after the touchdown, however, officials sent the teams to the locker rooms when a lightning storm hit the area. A 28-minute delay ensued, with players and fans seeking shelter from the storm, leaving the stadium a well-lit, but deserted, arena.

When play resumed, Colorado State took the initiative, and the game appeared headed for overtime when Bradlee Van Pelt scored on a 30-yard run to knot the score at 35-all with 1:50 remaining. This proved to be more than enough time for the Buffs, however, as Klatt engineered a 75-yard drive in just over a minute of playing time. With 40 seconds left, Bobby Purify scored on a nine-yard run, and when the Rams’ last ditch effort moved no further than midfield, the Buffs had a 42-35 win.

“We knew we had a lot of time left,” said Joel Klatt of the Buffs’ winning drive. “You’ve just got to stay calm and not go out of control in those situations.” This from a first-time starter who just happened to post the Buffs’ first 400-yard game since 1999, and the third highest debut for any Colorado quarterback.

Continue reading story here

From my Essay from the Game: “Electrifying Performance”

Droplets of water dripped from the edges of my baseball cap.

As I peered out into the darkened Mile High night from behind my water-logged CU hat, raindrops alternated falling from the right and left edges of the brim. The 28-minute lightning delay had come and gone, but the rain had persisted. Along with the return of the drenching rain came the equally annoying CSU Rams, making yet another comeback.

Twice down 14 points, CSU was clawing its way back into the game. Overtime looked inevitable. When Bradlee Van Pelt tied the score on a 30-yard run just below our seats in the endzone with only 1:50 remaining, my first thoughts were not of our chances in overtime.

My first thoughts were of the stadium bathrooms.

“Are the bathrooms heated?” was the question which ran through my mind. I was cold, damp, and frustrated, and the television delay before the start of overtime was destined to be lengthy. I needed to get away. How could we give up a 14-point lead? Twice? To Van Pelt?

How could we lose this game?

Continue reading essay here

Here are video highlights from the CU/CSU game …

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 25

Defensive Back Mickey Pruitt – 1984-87

Pruitt’s bio from CUBuffs.com … He is one of just six players in Colorado history to be afforded three-time first-team all-conference honors, as he was an All-Big Eight cornerback in 1985-86-87… His 332 career tackles set a school record for the most by a defensive back, a record that would stand for 14 years, and his 30 career pass deflections was the Buff standard for 12 seasons…

Pruitt had nine career forced fumbles, the third most at CU… He led all Big Eight defensive backs in tackles as a junior (106) and senior (108)… Was a finalist for the inaugural Jim Thorpe Award in 1986… His sack of Oregon quarterback Chris Miller as time expired preserved a 21-17 Colorado win 1985, the impetus for CU’s first winning season in seven years … CU’s most valuable player his senior year, as selected by his teammates… A member of CU’s All-Century team, selected in 1989, and a first-team Big Eight All-Decade selection (1980-89)… Undrafted out of college, he signed as a free agent and played 62 games in the NFL with Chicago (1988-90) and
Dallas (1991-92).

From CU’s “Big Plays Not in the Box Score” … Mickey Pruitt, 1985 vs. Oregon .. It’s year No. 4 of the Bill McCartney Era, and the second game of the season against Oregon in Boulder, while early, is important. A win would double CU’s win total of the previous season and could provide momentum for CU’s first winning team in six years. Oregon, trailing Colorado, 21-17, drives from its own 13 to the CU three-yard line and is faced with a fourth-and-goal with nine seconds left. The Buffs called for relentless pressure on Duck quarterback Chris Miller, the game obviously on the line. Miller was flushed out of the pocket, and before he could get the ball off, was sacked for a loss by sophomore safety Mickey Pruitt. The Buffs went on to finish the regular season with a 7-4 mark and earn their first bowl invitation since 1976.

The 1985 game story for Colorado 21, Oregon 17 (McCartney: “I think that could be a turning point for our program”) can be found here.

The game-winning play by Mickey Pruitt can be found here … 

 

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