Seniors Rodney Stewart and Toney Clemons embrace after Colorado scores. (CU Independent/James Bradbury)
Saturday’s 28-14 win against in-state rival CSU was extra sweet.
In front of a crowd of 57,186 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Buffs captured their 61st win against CSU, extending their series lead to 61-20-2 overall. In doing so, they grabbed their first win of the season and the first of Coach Jon Embree’s tenure.
Quarterback Tyler Hansen expressed what this win meant for the organization.
“It meant a lot,” Hansen said. “We thought we would get one last week. We love coach Embree. We love the whole staff. It’s really important to get that first win for him.”
Embree had this to say of the win:
“I underestimated a little bit how much last week’s lost hurt us,” Embree said. “We didn’t have quite the same kind of juice we had in the first two games. We’re a team that has to play on passion and emotion. It felt too business like early on, too much like it was going out to have a good practice.”
In the days leading up to the game, Embree described the Buffs performance this season as sporadic, an observation that held true in today’s game in the first half.
Colorado’s ongoing issue with consistency was evident throughout the first quarter. In eight plays, the Buffs managed to compile a lowly ten yards of total offense.
Despite allowing CSU to score on their opening drive, the Buffs contained their offense for the reminder of the half. Defensively, the Buffs played more soundly than they have in previous weeks, although a number of penalties gave CSU easy yardage. Overall however, the defense stepped up.
CSU was limited to only 67 yards on the ground. Quarterback Pete Thomas was also hindered, throwing 28 passes, completing 18 for 157 yards.
For the Buffs to progress, they will need to keep the penalties to a minimum, especially against the high-powered offenses they will be facing in the coming weeks such as Ohio State and Oregon.
The games against Hawaii and Cal showcased a Buffs team that was unable to click offensively and defensively in the opening minutes. Today, CU put a stop to this trend, which has been an area of concern for the team. Rodney ‘Speedy’ Stewart commented on the change.
“I think we could do a lot better,” Stewart said. “I think we could get going a lot faster. In the first quarter we’ve been making a lot of mistakes and if we can fix that we can be a better team.”
Midway through the second quarter, the Buffs started to find themselves offensively.
Two newcomers to the offense, fifth-year Sione Tau and freshman Alex Lewis, stepped up in their first starts. Despite a few issues here and there, they helped to create holes for Stewart and establish protection for Hansen to complete passes.
Stewart took over and helped boost the running game that CU desperately needed. His rushes of 12 and 17 yards helped to move the chains for Colorado and gave life to an ailing offense.
Stewart reached 191 yards combined in rushing and receiving. He had 19 carries for 98 yards and his seven receptions brought in 93 yards.
Four plays later, Tyler Hansen would scramble into the end zone for the first score of the day. With 2:37 left in the half, momentum permanently in favor of the Buffs.
After failing to convert on third down, the Buffs attempted to punt the ball, only to have it tipped. The ball sailed some 30 yards before coming into contact with a CSU player, who was unable to gain control of the ball, allowing CU’s Ryan Deehan to recover.
From there, Colorado marched downfield in seven plays, scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Hansen to receiver Kyle Cefalo with 12 seconds left on the clock. CU led at the half, 14-7.
Colorado’s offense continued with the success they had towards the end of the half. Half way through the third, Tyler Hansen connected with a wide open Toney Clemons for a 44 yard touchdown, extending the Buff’s lead to 14. It was Clemons’ fourth reception of the season and his only touchdown.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed on the kickoff gave CSU great field position with the ball on their own 36. They drove 64 yards in eight plays before quarterback Pete Thomas completed a 23 yard touchdown pass to C. Gilmore, narrowing Colorado’s lead to seven.
The Buffs cemented their win on an extraordinarily long drive which lasted just over 10 minutes and 85 yards, capped off by a 2 yard touchdown run by Hansen giving CU a victory. Coach Embree was proud of the way the Buffs maintained their lead in the closing moments.
“We finally had an opportunity where we had the ball, we had the lead and it was up to us to finish it off,” Embree said. “The thing I’m proud about is I think we had two holding penalties on that drive, yet we still found a way to overcome ourselves.”
That final drive game Embree his first win as a coach, who was thankful for those that got him there.
“Well I thought my first win would be on the island,” Embree said. “I thought I would have some flying time to enjoy it. I just think about all the people that have sacrificed for me to be here. It means a lot. I know a lot of people did a lot. So I’m glad I can thank them.”
They hope that this victory will allow them to carry momentum into next week where they will face off against a true heavyweight in Ohio State. That game kicks off next Saturday, Sept. 24, in Columbus, Ohio at 1:30.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Shay Knolle at email@example.com.
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