Oct. 16–Boulder, Baylor 31, Colorado 25
Colorado drove as far as the Baylor 19-yard line in the final minute, but a desperation pass from Tyler Hansen to Toney Clemons fell incomplete, preserving a 31-25 victory for the Baylor Bears in Boulder. The loss left the Buffs with a 3-3 record for the 2010 season, with bowl hopes that were so much in view after Colorado upset Georgia to run its record to 3-1 suddenly fading.
The game started well for the Colorado offense, as the Buffs took the opening kickoff and marched from their 20-yard line to the 34-yard line of Baylor. The optimism which permeated through the sun-drenched crowd of 48,953 quickly dissipated, though, when junior quarterback Tyler Hansen was intercepted on a 1st-and-10 at the 34 by Baylor safety Byron Landor.
Setting up shop at the Colorado 46-yard line after Landor’s 32-yard return, Baylor quickly returned the favor of a turnover. On the Bears second play from scrimmage, running back Jay Findley fumbled, with junior safety Patrick Mahnke recovering for the Buffs at the Colorado 26-yard line.
A three-and-out by the Buffs and two 12-yard completions by Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III set up the Bears in Colorado territory. On 4th-and-1 at the Colorado 40-yard line, however, senior linebacker B.J. Beatty stopped Terrance Ganaway for no gain, and the Buffs took over.
A nine-play, 60-yard drive ensued, with Tyler Hansen twice completing third-down passes to junior wide receiver Toney Clemons to keep the drive alive. A 19-yard pass from Hansen to tight end Ryan Deehan set up the Buffs at the Baylor 18-yard line, and Rodney Stewart did the rest.
Taking off on a sweep to the right, Stewart evaded a number of Baylor defenders, cutting back to the middle of the field for a touchdown. Inexplicably, Colorado went for a two-point conversion after the score, but a Cody Hawkins pass to Ryan Deehan fell incomplete. Still, with 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Colorado had the lead, 6-0.
Baylor then put together a 14-play drive of their own, covering 66 yards. The Bears had five plays in the Colorado red zone, and had a 1st-and-goal at the Buffs 1-yard line. Still, aided by a false start penalty which pushed the Bears back to the six, Baylor came up empty after a 24-yard field goal attempt by Aaron Jones hit the right upright.
Colorado could not take advantage, driving only as far as the Baylor 48-yard line before punting the ball away. This time, Baylor and star quarterback Robert Griffin III would not be denied. It took the Bears only six plays to cover 80 yards, with Griffin posting runs of 24 and 20 yards along the way. A 9-yard scoring pass from Griffin to tight end Jerod Monk put Baylor ahead, 7-6, with 5:24 to play in the first half.
The Buffs answered in short order. Taking over at the 35-yard line after a 31-yard kickoff return by Toney Clemons, the Buffs put together an eight-play scoring drive of their own, highlighted by a 13-yard completion from Hansen to Scotty McKnight on a 3rd-and-13, and a 35-yard completion to senior wide receiver Travon Patterson down to the Baylor 3-yard line.
Two plays later, Rodney Stewart had his second touchdown of the night, hitting the left pylon of the end zone to complete a 6-yard touchdown run. A second unsuccessful two-point conversion, this time on a Tyler Hansen scramble, left the score at 12-7, Colorado, with just 1:28 to play before halftime.
The late first-half scoring onslaught continued a few moments later, after a Robert Griffin pass was deflected by sophomore defensive tackle Will Pericak and intercepted by Michael Sipili. The Buffs senior linebacker returned the interception four yards to the Baylor 24-yard line, and the Buffs were in business with 1:28 still to play before halftime.
The Colorado offense, however, sputtered, losing four yards in three plays. Buff fans held their collective breaths as senior kicker Aric Goodman trotted out onto the field.
Goodman had not been successful since the first half of the first game of the season, but did connect this time, hitting from 45 yards out to give Colorado a 15-7 lead.
The Buffs also gave Robert Griffin too much time. Taking over with just 49 seconds to play before the break, Griffin ran and threw the Bears into scoring position, with Aaron Jones hitting a 50-yarder as time expired.
Halftime Score: Colorado 15, Baylor 10
Colorado had the lead at halftime, yet there was still a sense of unease amongst the Buff faithful. The Buffs had two touchdowns (and a field goal!), had held the ball for almost two-thirds of the first half (19:46 to 10:14), but still only had a five-point lead.
Baylor had run only 29 plays from scrimmage in the first half (to 41 by Colorado), but had amassed 253 yards of offense—almost nine yards per play. The Bears had yet to punt, being stopped only by a missed field goal, a turnover on downs, a fumble and an interception.
It would take more of the same if Colorado was to hang on for a victory.
Fears of Baylor’s offense taking over the game were realized when Baylor took the second-half kickoff and quickly moved into position to take the lead. A 38-yard run by Jay Finley, who would rush for 143 yards in the game, set up the Bears at the Colorado 12-yard line. Once again, though, the Colorado defense stiffened, and the Bears had to settle for a 25-yard Aaron Jones field goal.
Colorado 15, Baylor 13.
Rather than fold, the Colorado offense again responded in kind. The Buffs quickly marched down the field, never facing a third down. It took only eight plays for the Buffs to set up shop at the Baylor 24-yard line. A touchdown to give Colorado a two-score lead seemed inevitable.
Then … the Play of the Game
Sophomore Will Jefferson, who moved to running back the week of the Baylor game after Brian Lockridge was lost for the season with an ankle injury, rushed up the middle of the Baylor defense.
Jefferson appeared to be on his way to a touchdown, but was stripped of the ball at the Baylor 1-yard line. The ball fell into the end zone for a touchback. Not only were the Buffs denied a 1st-and-goal at the Baylor 1-yard line, but Baylor was able to take over at their 20-yard line for their next drive.
It took only five plays for Baylor to take advantage of their second life. Quarterback Robert Griffin, who had 234 yards passing to go with 137 yards rushing, ran and passed the Bears into position to take the lead for good.
With 4:09 to play in the third quarter, running back Jay Finley ran up the middle untouched for a 17-yard touchdown and a 21-15 Baylor lead.
The game seemed all but over after the Colorado offense went three-and-out in response to the Baylor touchdown. On the Bears second play from scrimmage, however, Robert Griffin threw a lateral to wide receiver Kendall Wright.
The ball was behind Wright, and the fumble was recovered by Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown at the Baylor 36-yard line. A 15-yard personal foul penalty set up the Buffs at the Baylor 21-yard line, and Colorado was back in business as the third quarter drew to a close.
As had been the case with a Baylor turnover late in the first half, though, the Buffs could not capitalize. Colorado pushed the ball as close as the Baylor 8-yard line, but no further.
Aric Goodman was true on his second field goal of the night, hitting from 25 yards out to pull the Buffs to within three, at 21-18, but there was a sense of opportunity lost amongst the “Gold Rush” crowd on hand for Parents’ Weekend at Folsom Field.
Baylor tried to put the game out of reach with their next drive, an 80-yarder in eight plays. The drive was capped by Jay Findley’s second touchdown of the game, this time on a 14-yard run.
Down 28-18 with less than ten minutes to play, though, the Buffs rallied. A 43-yard kickoff return by Arthur Jaffee set the Buffs up in Baylor territory, and this time the Buffs capitalized.
Tyler Hansen, who would hit on 21-of-28 passes for 207 yards in the game, hit freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson for a 21-yard gain to the Baylor 7-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the seven, Hansen hit Scotty McKnight for the score.
A conventional extra point by Aric Goodman brought the Buffs back to within three, at 28-25, with 5:08 still to play.
Hopes of a comeback were seemingly dashed, however, as Baylor, behind Robert Griffin, sapped the spirit of the Colorado faithful. A 36-yard run by Griffin put the ball at the Colorado 31-yard line, and a game-clinching touchdown appeared inevitable.
A holding penalty, though, stalled the Baylor drive, and, after Colorado exhausted its time outs to preserve the clock, Aaron Jones hit on his third field goal of the game, this time from 38-yards out, to give Baylor a 31-25 lead.
There was still 1:54 on the clock, however, as the Colorado offense took the field at their 29-yard line to mount its final drive. Two completions from Hansen to Ryan Deehan took the ball out near midfield with still over a minute to play.
A six-yard completion from Hansen to tight end Ryan Walters on 3rd-and-6 a few moments later kept the drive alive.
On 2nd-and-9 at the Baylor 41, Tyler Hansen scrambled for a 15-yard gain, but the run was nullified as the Buffs did not have seven men on the line of scrimmage.
The costly penalty not only pushed the Buffs back five yards, it cost precious time. Three consecutive completions to Ryan Deehan got the ball into the red zone, but now only five seconds remained.
First-and-ten at the Baylor 19-yard line. Down six points. Five seconds to play.
One chance at Colorado immortality.
Instead, Tyler Hansen’s pass for wide receiver Toney Clemons was broken up by Baylor cornerback Chance Casey, and fell quietly to the turf in the end zone.
Final Score: Baylor 31, Colorado 25
“Well, I certainly didn’t like the score, but I’m proud of our effort,” said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins after the game. “It wasn’t from lack of effort, or trying, or heart or soul. They just made more plays than we did, and sometimes that happens.”
Colorado’s offense posted better numbers than it had after being shut out by Missouri the previous week … but not by much. Against Missouri, the Buffs had 311 yards of total offense; against Baylor the Buffs had 399.
The problem for the Colorado offense, as had been the case against the Tigers, was not executing on the opponent’s side of the field. In the Missouri game, Colorado had the ball on the Missouri side of the field six times, but came away with no points (aided in part by the decision on three occasions, to go for a fourth-down conversion instead of kicking a field goal).
Against Baylor, the Buffs had the ball on the Baylor side of the field nine times, but scored only 25 points. In fact, on only two occasions in the entire game did the Buffs fail to cross midfield.
On the other side of the ball, the Colorado “bend but don’t break” defense did exactly that—for the most part. The Buffs defense did not force a punt the entire evening, but did force three turnovers, and on three drives inside the Buffs red zone, forced three field goal attempts (two made; one missed).
Colorado gave up 543 yards of total offense, with Baylor gaining an average of 8.8 yards every time it snapped the ball … yet the Colorado defense did give the Colorado offense every opportunity to win the game.
The Colorado special teams contributed as well … for a change. Toney Clemons contributed a 31-yard kickoff return in the first half; Arthur Jaffee had a 43-yarder in the second. Zach Grossnickle, while he did not pin Baylor inside its 20-yard line, did have his best game of the season, going for a 44.7 yard average in three kicks.
And then there was, of course, the two successful field goal attempts by senior Aric Goodman. Reportedly benched in favor of junior walk-on Marcus Kirkwood, Goodman hit from 45 and 25 yards, for his second and third field goals of the season.
“I think (Goodman) hit a 57-yarder in warmups, and sometimes you go by feel,” explained Dan Hawkins. “He made the long one, and so obviously he was hot, so we returned the favor and he made the other one as well.”
Goodman’s success would have been one of the “feel good” stories of the night … had the Buffs won the game.
Instead, Tyler Hansen’s 28th pass of the game fell incomplete, and the storybook ending was not to be.
“Clemons is a great player,” said Hansen of his target on the last play. “He has a chip on his shoulder, he has a little swagger, and before the play he said, ‘Hey, give me a chance. I’m going to get it’. I was confident in him, and I had confidence in him that he would go up and make that play. He almost did.”
Said Clemons of the final play, “Tyler threw a ball and I just had to go make a play. The defender made a good play; he was in good position. We both tussled for the ball, it hit the ground, and the ball was incomplete.”
With the loss, Colorado fell to 3-3, 0-2 in Big 12 play. Hopes for a Big 12 championship gone for good, the Buffs had to move on to more modest goals. “I think next week is a big week for us,” said Tyler Hansen. “We’ve got to get a win. 4-3 as opposed to 3-4 is really big for us.”
“I think these guys are pretty resilient, I really do,” said Dan Hawkins. “We talked about this at the start of the season, how there is no easy day, and how every day is going to be a grind. So if we win by two or lose by two, you’d better redial and be ready to go by the next week, and I’m sure that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Up next for Colorado, a date with Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are also 3-3, and also in a hole in the Big 12 Conference with a 1-3 record. The only conference win for the Red Raiders came in a 45-38 shoot out with—you guessed it—Baylor.
It will be one more opportunity for the Colorado offense to shine against a porous defense. Another game with success between the 20's, but not in the red zone, will only result in another loss.
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