First game of Buffs season leaves CSU haters happy
CU footballers and their fans were able to soothe the sting of last season’s 2-10 record with a season-opening win against arch-rival Colorado State University.
The Buffs defeated the Rams 31-28 with a field goal made by kicker Kevin Eberhart after the game went into overtime.
With the Rams at third and goal on the 9-yard line in overtime, cornerback Terrence Wheatley intercepted a potential touchdown pass by CSU quarterback Caleb Hanie. CU needed only a field goal on its offensive series to win the Qwest Rocky Mountain Showdown.
“I just walked up to Kevin and told him ‘do what you normally do,'” Wheatley said. “I mean, Kevin is a good kicker and I told him, ‘I set it up for you, you seal the deal.'”
Led by freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins, the Buffs opened the game with a six play, 83-yard drive resulting in a 24-yard pass to wide receiver Scotty McKnight and the first touchdown of the game.
“Scotty’s always open. That is just kind of our philosophy,” Cody Hawkins said. “I’ve know Scotty since I was a sophomore in high school and we’ve always gone out and thrown, and he was my roommate last year, and he’s a guy that I know is going to catch the ball. So if they are playing a zone and I’ve got two guys to pick from, I’m probably going to go with Scotty just because I know he’ll make a play and he’s tough.”
In just under six minutes after the opening touchdown, the Rams responded with a touchdown of their own. As CU came back with yet another touchdown a minute and a half later, defense did not appear to be a priority to either team.
“As a defense, they definitely presented some problems for us,” Wheatley said. “I mean they really didn’t show anything, at least in my opinion, that we didn’t game-plan for, we just didn’t execute as a defense.”
By the end of the first half, CU leading CSU 17-14, the Buff vibe was more like that of the 2006-2007 season.
Buff fans had fallen back into an old habit of cheering not for particularly successful plays, but rather just for not screwing up. Regardless, Cody Hawkins still led the team miles ahead of last season. Even with injured tailback Hugh Charles and benched quarterback/wide receiver Bernard Jackson, the team put up more points in this half than in the entire Rocky Mountain Showdown last year.
While Jackson(cq) was 8-13 with 70 passing yards, Cody Hawkins(cq) was 18-32 with 201 passing yards.
CSU’s Hanie was 20-27 for 229 passing yards and three touchdowns. Hanie opened the game 7-7, and at the end of the third quarter, he was 15-17 in completed passes.
Once the teams came back after halftime, Cody Hawkins said the team really began to implement a number of their defensive plays.
But the Rams still scored two touchdowns within the first five minutes to earn the biggest lead of the game 28-17.
What really made this Colorado team stand out from last year was how well it could come back after losing momentum.
The Buffs pushed up the field with a handoff to tailback Demetrius Sumler from 3 yards out to score their third touchdown of the game with only 34 seconds left in the third quarter. The touchdown was quickly followed by a pass to tight end Riar Geer for a successful two-point conversion.
“That was my big thing with guys on the sideline – guys just finish,” Head Coach Dan Hawkins said. “Told them before the game, ‘no matter what happens – good play happens, refocus, bad play happens, refocus, and just be a finisher.'”
With 1:16 left in the game, and CU down by three points at fourth and four, Cody Hawkins threw an incomplete pass. A flag thrown on the play for pass interference against CSU resulted in a 15-yard penalty, placing Colorado on first and ten at the 14-yard line.
At fourth and one, with only seconds on the clock, Eberhart scored a field goal and tied the game.
The rest is history.
“Just such a release after, you know, the season we had last year,” Wheatley said of the win. “All of the emotion, I mean if you listen to some of the speeches that were given before the game, I mean we were almost emotional before the game. You know you have all that pent up aggression, all that hurt, that anger, that frustration that you keep just the whole year and you finally get a chance to let it out on the field and, you know, we did that.
“I mean it wasn’t pretty, but I think we showed people today that we have heart. You know, this was a game, this wasn’t a regular football game, it was almost like a street fight. Whoever wants it more wins, and we just had more heart today.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Margot Schneider at email@example.com.