"Burned to the Ground" - Colorado Buffaloes lose 52-45 to Kansas

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November 6th - at Kansas          Kansas 52, Colorado 45

Against Kansas, junior Rodney Stewart rushed for a career-high 175 yards, and freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson had his first 100-yard receiving game (11 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns). The 2010 game between Colorado and Kansas, however, will only be remembered by Buff fans as the game in which Colorado lost a 28-point lead. Up 45-17 seven seconds into the fourth quarter on Stewart's third touchdown of the game, the Buffs gave up 35 unanswered points to lose, 52-45. The worst "come-from-ahead" loss in school history sent the reeling Buffs to a 3-6 record overall, and their first 0-5 start in conference play since the 1979 Buffs started Big Eight play with an 0-5 record.

In a game between two teams which had found ways to beat themselves all season, it was the 2-5, 0-4 Kansas Jayhawks which spent the first three quarters finding ways to make the 3-5,0-4 Colorado Buffaloes look good.

The game opened about as well as any Buff fan could have hoped. For only the second time all season, Colorado scored on its opening possession. The Buffs drove 80 yards in 12 plays, converting two fourth down attempts along the way. Rodney Stewart did the honors on a seven yard run six minutes into the game to give Colorado a 7-0 lead. Kansas responded in kind, quickly driving down the field on its first possession. Converting three third downs of six yards or longer, the Jayhawks found themselves at the Colorado one yard line when ...

... Kansas made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... on third-and-one at the one yard line, Kansas was called for a false start, pushing the ball back to the Colorado six yard line. An incompletion later, the Jayhawks had to settle for a field goal. 7-3, Colorado.

The Buffs went three-and-out on their next possession, and Kansas was poised to take the ball and the lead when ...

... Kansas made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... on fourth-and-two at the Colorado 28-yard line, Kansas not only went offside, but ran into Buff punter Zach Grossnickle. The penalties gave Colorado new life, and, three plays later, senior quarterback Cody Hawkins hit freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson for a 62-yard touchdown. Colorado 14, Kansas 3.

After forcing a three-and-out of their own, the Buffs took over at the start of the second quarter with the ball at their own 29-yard line. This time, the Buffs didn't need any help from the Jayhawks, never needing to convert even a third down in traveling 71 yards in 11 plays. Cody Hawkins hit Paul Richardson for his second touchdown of the afternoon, this time from four yards out, to give Colorado a 21-3 lead.

The game appeared as if were about to become a rout when, on the Jayhawks' next series, Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham was intercepted by CU freshman defensive back Terrel Smith. Four plays later, though, Cody Hawkins returned the favor. Hawkins, who hadn't been intercepted in over 114 straight passes, was picked off by Isiah Barfield. Momentum was back with the home team when ...

... Kansas made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... just four plays later, Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham was intercepted again, this time by junior defensive back Travis Sandersfeld. Set up near midfield, the Buffs turned to Rodney Stewart, who had runs of 16, 11, 16, six and one in accounting for 50 of the 51 yards of the Colorado drive. Stewart's shortest run, of one yard, was the touchdown run which gave Colorado a commanding 28-3 lead with 2:05 to play before halftime.

Kansas did not quit, though. Assisted by a roughing the passer penalty, Kansas covered 82 yards in only eight plays, with Mecham hitting D.J. Beshears from 19 yards out to give the 40,851 on hand something to cheer about. With 49 seconds to play before halftime, the new score was 28-10. The Jayhawks had momentum, and would receive the opening kickoff to start the second half. A comeback was in the offing when ...

... Kansas made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... in this case, two plays. With less than a minute to work with, Colorado was aided greatly by two 15-yard penalties by the Jayhawks, one for pass interference; the other for for a personal foul. The 30 yards in markoffs put the Buffs in position to score again, and Colorado took advantage, with Cody Hawkins hitting red-shirt freshman DaVaughn Thornton for a 12-yard touchdown with just three seconds remaining before halftime.

Halftime score: Colorado 35, Kansas 10.

Kansas did not come out with fire to start the second half. A four-play drive and a short punt gave Colorado the ball at the Kansas 49-yard line. The Buffs did surmount a drive, but it stalled at the Kansas 21-yard line. Senior kicker Aric Goodman, though, was true on his 38-yard field goal attempt, upping the Colorado lead to 38-10 with ten minutes to play in the third quarter.

The Jayhawks then put together their best drive of the day, covering 69 yards  in 14 plays, with James Sims scoring from a yard out to pull Kansas to within three scores, at 38-17, with 3:16 to play in the third quarter. Any hopes of a Jayhawk comeback, though, were seemingly thwarted when the Buffs needed only seven plays to retaliate. On the first play of the fourth quarter, running back Rodney Stewart scored his third touchdown of the day, this time from seven yards out, to give Colorado a 45-17 lead.

14:47 remained.

Kansas, which had scored only 40 points in its first four games in Big 12 play, put together something of a consolation drive, going 66 yards in nine plays. James Sims scored his second toucdown from 13 yards out to make the score a more respectable 45-24.

Colorado, which had only been stopped by an interception in its first eight drives, only needed to run time off the clock to preserve the victory when ...

... Colorado made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... Kansas attempted an onsides kick. Not unusual for a team down three touchdowns, and presumably not unexpected by the Colorado coaching staff. Still, Kansas was successful in recovering the onsides kick, and the Jayhawks were back in business. Three plays later, there was confusion at the line of scrimmage. Instead of playing to the whistle ...

... Colorado made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... assuming that the penalty was on Kansas, Buff players appeared to quit on the play. Kansas, though, went on with the play, resulting in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Mecham to Johnathan Wilson.

Colorado 45, Kansas 31. Still 9:26 left to play.

The Colorado offense appeared to right the ship a few moments later when Cody Hawkins hit Paul Richardson for 15 yards on third-and-12 to keep possession. After a five yard run by Rodney Stewart gave Colorado a 2nd-and-five at the Buff 40-yard line ...

... Colorado made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... instead of pounding the ball, the Buffs got cute. An end around to wide receiver Toney Clemons was fumbled. Kansas nickelback Tyler Patmon picked up the fumble at the Colorado 28-yard line, taking the ball in unmolested for yet another Kansas score.

Colorado 45, Kansas 38. Still 7:12 to play.

Suddenly, what had been a rout less than eight minutes before was now a ball game. Still, Colorado had the lead and the ball. All the Buffs needed to do was to put together a long scoring drive. After all, in ten possessions, the only thing to stop the Colorado offense were its two turnovers. So, naturally ...

... Colorado made a play which losing teams usually make ...

... Instead of running the ball, the Buffs passed. On the second play of the drive, Cody Hawkins was picked off for the second time, this time by fumble returner Tyler Patmon. Set up at the Colorado 37-yard line, the Jayhawks made quick work of the reeling Buffs. It took only five plays for Kansas to score, with James Sims scoring his third touchdown of the game from six yards out.

Colorado 45, Kansas 45. 4:30 left to play.

Now completely out of sync, the Colorado offense, which could not be stopped the first three quarters of the game, went three-and-out, giving the ball back to Kansas with a chance to win the game. Only 2:49 remained on the game clock when Kansas took over at its 37-yard line. A game-winning field goal as time expired seemed to be in the offing, but the Jayhawks were on a roll. It took only five plays to cover 63 yards, with James Sims scoring his fourth touchdown of the game (and third of the fourth quarter) from 28 yards out to give Kansas its first lead of the game.

Kansas 52, Colorado 45. 52 seconds remaining.

It would have been appropriate for Colorado to go "four-and-out" to end the contest, but instead the Buffs rallied. A pass interference penalty set up the Buffs at the 47 yard line where, on fourth-and-ten, Hawkins hit Scotty McKnight for a 19-yard gain. Hawkins then followed that pass with a 27-yarder down to the Kansas seven yard line. Suddenly, it appeared that the game might go into overtime. Hawkins' first pass was caught by Paul Richardson in the endzone, but the pass was ruled incomplete. A second attempt, as time expired, fell incomplete.

Final score: Kansas 52, Colorado 45.

"You've just got to finish, just got to learn how to finiah," said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins, acutely aware of what the loss to Kansas meant to his future at Colorado. "You've got to know what it's like to be in the lead". Unfortunately for the Buffs and their fans, with Hawkins' record falling to 19-39 with the loss, the Buff players have had all too little experience in knowing what it's like to be in the lead.

The loss overshadowed a strong offensive performance by the Buffs. Colorado had not scored over 31 points in a game all season, but had 35 points on the board by halftime. Rodney Stewart, held in check the last two games, had a career-best 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns. When combined with his 44 yards receiving, Stewart had his first 200-yard all-purpose yard day (219). True freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson set school records for receptions (11) and receiving yards (141) by a freshman. His two touchdowns gave him four on the year, besting the record for true freshman of three set by Donnie Holmes in 1979.

Senior quarterback Cody Hawkins also set a new record. In going 29-for-44 for 322 yards, Hawkins set the new standard for attempts (1,139). His two interceptions only added to his already school record high in that category, now up to 39.

Overall, the Buffs set new season highs for points (45) total yards (464), and first downs (31). Still, there was little on the stat sheet which could bring consolation in allowing the greatest comeback ever mounted by a Colorado opponent.

"You think you have it in the bag and all of a sudden the bag rips open and everything starts going against you . . . this is probably the worst I've ever felt after a game," Cody Hawkins said. "We put our defense into some tough spots when we turned the ball over down there . . . the back-to-back turnovers hurt us.

"Those guys were playing like they were the best team in the country and we were allowing them to do that."

Kansas had not played like a good team since knocking off Georgia Tech in the second game of the season. After averaging only ten points per game in their first four Big 12 games, the Jayhawks found a way to score 52 against Colorado.

Aware that the call for the head of Dan Hawkins had reached a crescendo, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn gave the following quote to the Boulder Daily Camera:

"It goes without saying that this game was extremely disappointing on many levels and obviously these developments do not meet our expectations," Bohn told the Camera in a phone interview. "That`s not to disparage Kansas` accomplishments in any way. While we share many of the same frustrations and serious disappointment as our fans, I have confidence in this group of seniors to represent this team and the university with both pride and a competitive spirit the rest of the season. I am cognizant and most appreciative of our fans` support of the players all season long. Their loyal following will be integral to our immediate and long-term success."

The end of the Dan Hawkins' era, be it the week before the Iowa State game or the week after the Nebraska game, was forever sealed in the fourth quarter of the 2010 Kansas game. The discouraging loss, unforeseeable when the fourth quarter began, somehow provided an appropriate bookend to Hawkins' career in Boulder, which began with a 19-10 loss to 1-AA Montana State in 2006.

Game Notes -

- Rodney Stewart, with a career-high of 175 yards against Kansas, now had 912 yards for the season, poised to become the first 1,000-yard rusher for Colordo since Bobby Purify went for 1,017 in 2004. Stewart also moved into the top ten in career rushing yards, with his 2,338 yards moving him ahead of such notables as Cortlen Johnson (2,199; 1998-2001); Lamont Warren (2,242; 1991-93) and Lee Rouson (1981-84). His 19 rushing touchdowns put him 17th on that list.

- Stewart also became the first Buff to rush for three touchdowns in a game since Hugh Charles had three rushing scores against Nebraska in 2007.

- Cody Hawkins, only the second quarterback in Colorado history to have over 1,000 pass attempts, moved past Joel Klatt (1,095 attempts; 2002-05), with the new standard being 1,139. Hawkins, with 322 yards passing against Kansas, moved into second place in that category. Hawkins now has 6,778 yards passing, moving past Kordell Stewart (6,481; 1991-94), second only to Klatt (7,375; 2002-05). Before his second quarter interception, Hawkins had gone 114 straight passes without an interception, second longest streak in that category (Klatt had a streak of 139 straight passes without a pick).

- True freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson continues to impress. His 11 catches for 141 yards both set freshman records, with the 11 catches tied with five other players for most catches in a game by any receiver. His four touchdown catches for the year are also a freshman receiving record.

- Red-shirt freshman tight end DaVaughn Thornton made his first career catch count. It went for a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

- True freshman defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe made his first career start; true freshman kicker Justin Castor had his first kickoff attempts (he previously had his only field goal attempt of the season blocked at Missouri).

- True freshman defensive back Terrel Smith had his first career interception, the first true freshman Buff to have an interception since Curtis Cunningham had a pick against Florida State in 2008.

- The 45 points were the most by Colorado in a losing effort since the infamous 82-42 track meet against Oklahoma in 1980 ... somehow, that seems fitting ...

For news about possible replacements for Dan Hawkins as the head coach at Colorado, go to www.cuatthegame.com

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