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Buffs Top UCLA To Give Dorrell Win In CU Debut

Nov 7, 2020
Jarek Broussard ran for three touchdowns for Colorado against UCLA.

Highlights | Karl Dorrell Press Conference | Sam Noyer Press Conferene | Derrion Rakestraw Press Conference | Jarek Broussard Press Conference | Final Game Book | Notes | Quotes | Boxscore

BOULDER — Karl Dorrell's Colorado Buffaloes gave their new head coach a win Saturday, but not before also providing him with some tense moments down the stretch.

The Buffs jumped out to a 35-7 second quarter lead, then had to fight off a furious UCLA rally en route to collecting a 48-42 win at Folsom Field in front of an announced crowd of 554 in the season opener for both teams. The Buffs were terrific in the first half, then came up with big plays when it mattered most to make Dorrell the third straight CU coach to win his Buffs opener.

The Buffs were playing their first game in 344 days in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. They were also playing for their third head coach in three years.

"I'm very proud of this football team," Dorrell said. "Our guys found a way to win and a way to score more points in the second half when things got close and got within seven. We found a way to just hang in there. It says a lot about this team. They didn't give up. They kept fighting and they hung on for a victory." 

Colorado built a 35-7 lead midway through the second quarter thanks to a defense that forced three turnovers and special teams that forced another. But UCLA cut the lead to 35-28 with three straight touchdowns — one late in the second quarter and two early in the third before Colorado pushed the lead back to two scores, then held the Bruins off down the stretch.

The game also featured solid starting debuts from senior quarterback Sam Noyer and redshirt sophomore running back Jarek Broussard.

Noyer, a senior who actually played safety in 2019 for the Buffs after playing sparingly as a quarterback in his first two seasons, threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 64 yards and a score. Broussard, making his playing debut for the Buffs, ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns — tying the CU record held by Bobby Anderson for the most touchdowns in a running back debut.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado led 14-7 after one quarter, then pushed the margin to 35-7 with just under six minutes left in the second quarter, thanks to four UCLA turnovers that CU converted into three of the Buffs' five first-half touchdowns. Broussard ran for all three of his scores in the first half, Noyer connected with tight end Brady Russell for another and Jaren Mangham ran for one. 

But the Bruins narrowed the gap to 35-14 late in the second quarter and CU's James Stefanou came up short on a 51-yard field goal try just before the half.

The Bruins then added two more touchdowns in the first five minutes of the second half to cut Colorado's lead to 35-28. UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson raced 65 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the half, and following a CU field goal try that was blocked, the Bruins went 60 yards for another touchdown to narrow CU's edge to one touchdown.

Colorado finally halted the Bruins' 21-0 run with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard Noyer run midway through the third quarter, but the Bruins answered again with another touchdown to pull within 42-35.

"They were more aggressive and started exploiting our secondary a little bit," Dorrell said. "We are going to need to get all of those things fixed but we hung on."

The Buffs then pushed their margin to 10 points with a long drive that ended with a 45-yard field goal from Evan Price, who replaced Stefanou. That gave CU a 45-35 lead with just 21 seconds left in the third quarter.

CU's defense then rose to the occasion on UCLA's ensuing possession. Buffs linebacker Nate Landman recorded a big stop on a UCLA fourth-and-1 at the Colorado 30 early in the fourth quarter, and the Buffs offense responded with another scoring drive, moving inside the UCLA 20 before settling for a 36-yard Price field goal for a 48-35 lead with 9:26 to play.

"We made plays when we needed to," Dorrell said.

Indeed, CU's defense then kicked in one more big stop. After the Bruins overcame a first-and-30, the Buffs stiffened. A Mustafa Johnson sack of Thompson-Robinson put the Bruins in a hole, and three plays later, the Buffs forced an incompletion on fourth-and-11 to regain possession with 5:04 on the clock, a 13-point lead and the ball at their own 40. 

Colorado then had a chance to make it a three-score game, only to see the Bruins collect their second blocked field goal of the night to keep CU's lead at 13 with 3:20 still on the clock.

Still, the clock was on Colorado's side. The Bruins then tallied one last score, but it came with just 1:45 on the clock and UCLA out of timeouts. CU's Dimitri Stanley recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Buffs ran out the clock in victory formation.

For two quarters, the Buffs were outstanding in all three phases early in the game. A forced fumble by Derrion Rakestraw on a UCLA punt return early in the game led to Alec Pell's recovery and CU's first touchdown, a 6-yard run by Broussard.

 Minutes later, a Carson Wells interception and return to the 1-yard line set up a second score for Broussard. That score gave the Buffs a 14-0 lead, one the Bruins then shaved to seven with a 28-yard screen pass for a touchdown late in the first quarter.

But the Buffs quickly answered, going 76 yards on 10 plays for a 21-7 lead. Two series later, Colorado forced a UCLA fumble deep in Bruins territory, and two plays later, Broussard had his third TD of the night for a 28-7 CU lead.

Colorado's defense then forced a UCLA punt and the Buffs drove 70 yards for their fifth touchdown of the night, a 1-yard Mangham run for a 35-7 lead.

The Bruins, though, quickly answered with a 52-yard Dorian Thompson-Robinson scoring pass late in the second quarter to send the Buffs into the locker room with a 35-14 lead.

TURNING POINT: With the Bruins holding momentum and the ball in CU territory in the fourth quarter, Nate Landman's big stop on fourth-and-1 gave the ball back to the Buffs. CU's offense responded with a field goal drive to give the Buffs a 13-point cushion.

CU STANDOUTS: Jarek Broussard made his CU debut with 187 yards and three touchdowns rushing … Senior quarterback Sam Noyer threw for 257 yards and a score and also ran for 64 yards and a touchdown … Safety Derrion Rakestraw had six tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery … CU's offensive line was outstanding all night, yielding just one sack and paving the way for 264 yards rushing … Wide receiver Dimitri Stanley caught six passes for 66 yards … Tight end Brady Russell caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown … Nate Landman had six tackles, a big fourth-down stop and a big quarterback hurry on fourth down to end another drive … Linebacker Carson Wells had an interception, three tackles, was in on a sack and had one pass breakup.

KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs forced four turnovers and ran for 264 yards, pounding the Bruins on the ground almost at will.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs open the season with a big win and are tied with USC for the Pac-12 South lead.

NEXT UP: The Buffs play at Stanford next Saturday in a 1:30 p.m. game.