‘Mesmerizing’ is a word one might use to describe the entertaining duel that took place at Folsom Field Saturday night.
The Colorado Buffaloes fell to the Arizona Wildcats 45-42, dropping the Buffs to a 0-3 record in the Pac-12 Conference.
What made the game so dazzling was the duel of two elite rushers: Colorado senior tailback Phillip Lindsay and Arizona sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate.
Lindsay’s night was historic to say the least.
The Denver native surpassed his career high in total rushing yards with 281 and claimed three touchdowns while doing so. In the process, he broke school records for the most all-purpose yards in a career (4,989) and the most rushing attempts in a game (41).
“I do it for my team. Period,” Lindsay said after the loss. “I’m going to do whatever I have to do to help [us] win and bring glory to this program. We came up short and obviously I didn’t do enough.”
He declined to comment on his milestone achievement due to understandable frustration following the loss.
“I’m really happy for Phillip for how he battled and fought,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “He was the first one talking to the team after the game in the locker room about what we needed to do and how we needed to do it.”
But while Lindsay’s night was spectacular, it was well overshadowed by his counterpart.
Arizona originally started senior quarterback Brandon Dawkins, but on the Wildcats’ first drive, Dawkins was hit late out of bounds by junior linebacker Drew Lewis and was taken out of the game.
In came Khalil Tate, and everything changed.
“I just knew when I got into the game that I needed to keep the team rolling and put points on the board,” Tate said.
Prior to filling in for Dawkins Saturday night, the Inglewood, California native had somewhat of a low profile, having only rushed for 24 yards while tossing 81 yards through the air in the Wildcats’ 19-16 loss to Houston earlier this year.
But on a night where the Wildcats seemed to face adversity, Tate shined in a way no one expected him to. He rushed for four touchdowns, gaining 327 yards on 14 attempts, which translated to an eyebrow-raising 23.4 yards per rush.
With that incredible performance, Tate went on to break the FBS record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a game.
Senior defensive back Ryan Moeller wasn’t necessarily expecting a performance from Tate during the week.
“I didn’t even know his number to be quite honest,” Moeller said. “We were expecting a different guy to backup and someone else came in the game and we didn’t execute.”
Both head coaches were amazed with Tate’s performance and talent.
“He was phenomenal,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I could tell all week he was really wanting an opportunity and a chance. I was obviously really proud of the way he ran the football, but also his composure when he got in there, his game management [and] how he was seeing the field. He got some great blocking up front and outstanding perimeter blocking, but Khalil was certainly made a big difference today.”
Rodriguez was asked on whether Tate had the best rushing performance he ever saw from a quarterback.
“It’s close,” Rodriguez said. “With Denard Robinson and Patrick White, I’ve been blessed to have some really athletic quarterbacks, but this was a pretty special performance.”
MacIntyre simply gave credit to where it was due.
“[Khalil] was the difference in the football game.” MacIntyre said. “He was amazing. He should be National Player of the Week. He’s a phenomenal player.”
MacIntyre also had high praise for Tate and put his historic performance into perspective.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that, except for a couple times against [former Nevada quarterback Colin] Kaepernick,” MacIntyre said. “There were a couple plays we couldn’t touch Kaepernick. He was a heck of a player. We’ve got to get a better scheme when we play [Tate] next year to somehow corral him, there’s no doubt about it.”
The Buffaloes head into Corvallis, Ore. next Saturday, Oct. 14 as they take on the Oregon State Beavers at 2:00 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Drew Sharek at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @drew_sharek