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Buffs Fall To Sun Devils In Pac-12 Opener

Sep 25, 2021

TEMPE, Ariz. — Colorado finally ended its offensive drought Saturday evening, but it wasn't enough as the Buffaloes dropped a 35-13 decision to Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

CU dropped to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in Pac-12 play while ASU improved to 3-1, 1-0.

The Buffaloes trailed 14-0 midway through the second quarter before finally ending their eight-quarter scoring drought with a Cole Becker 51-yard field goal just before halftime.

Colorado then closed the gap to 14-10 early in the second half by taking the opening kick and marching 75 yards for a touchdown. That score appeared to swing momentum to CU's side.

But the Sun Devils quickly answered with a long scoring drive of their own, then added two more touchdowns over the next 15 minutes while holding the Buffs scoreless in that stretch to put the game away.

CU did add a field goal late in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.

The Buffs actually outrushed the Sun Devils, 183-167, with CU's Alex Fontenot rushing 14 times for 65 yards and a touchdown. But the Buffs managed just 67 yards passing while giving up 272 in the air.

CU freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis was 7-for-17 for 67 yards and he also rushed 10 times for 39 yards.

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for 236 yards and also ran for 75, and CU's defense failed to produce a takeaway for the second straight week.

"We have to just keep bringing this team along," CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. "We have a lot of young players playing and a lot of new players playing. It's challenging every week … We have to keep working at getting better each week and hopefully that light bulb starts to glow a little bit brighter for us to be a more productive team and do as well as we need to do."

HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado's offensive struggles continued for much of the first half, as the Buffs came up empty on their first four possessions, one of which ended in a missed field goal.

Meanwhile, the Sun Devils found the end zone twice, with both scoring drives extended by third down penalties on CU.

ASU took its second possession 45 yards to the end zone, getting new life when a facemask penalty on third down negated a Colorado sack. Four plays later, Daniels scored from 7 yards out and the Buffs trailed, 7-0, with 7:45 to play in the first quarter.

Penalties plagued the Buffs for much of the half, as they were flagged for six infractions for 59 yards in the first 30 minutes. CU finished with eight penalties for 84 yards.

After the two teams traded punts following ASU's score, the Buffs finally drove into Arizona State territory. CU's Lewis ran for 42 yards on back-to-back plays before the drive stalled at the ASU 28. A 46-yard field goal try, however, was partially blocked and the Buffs came away empty.

ASU then took advantage of another Colorado penalty on the ensuing possession. The Buffs forced an incompletion on third down, but a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive alive and Rachaad White scored from 11 yards out on the next play to extend ASU's lead to 14-0.

"I felt we did some really positive things in the first half, but those things were negated with the penalties and they ended up getting points," Dorrell said. "Those guys played hard and did some good things in the first half. The second half was a little bit of a challenge."

The Buffs finally ended their scoreless streak at eight quarters late in the half. CU drove 58 yards over the final three minutes before getting a 51-yard Cole Becker field goal with 13 seconds left in the half, sending CU to the locker room trailing 14-3. 

Finally putting points on the scoreboard seemed to inspire the Buffs as they took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 75 yards to the end zone. Jarek Broussard had two carries for 20 yards to open the drive before Lewis dropped a jet sweep pass to freshman receiver Ty Robinson, who raced 26 yards upfield.

Fontenot then took over, carrying five times in a row for 29 yards, capping the drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone. Becker's PAT pulled the Buffs to within 14-10 with 11:01 still to play in the third quarter.

"I was really encouraged that we came out of halftime and went down the field and scored," Dorrell said. "That was kind of reminiscent of what we saw a year ago with how we played with the running game really leading the way."

Colorado's momentum, though, didn't last long, as the Sun Devils quickly answered with a long drive of their own. Daniels completed three passes for 42 yards, setting up a 17-yard touchdown carry on a reverse, giving ASU a 21-10 lead midway through the quarter.

Colorado managed to move close to midfield on its next possession, but a dropped pass on third down ended the drive.

"I thought Brendon played OK," Dorrell said. "I thought he had a couple steps of progress this week. We need to continue to bring him along, along with our passing game. I thought he hit some opportunities for some throws and a couple receivers dropped the ball."

ASU then extended its lead to 28-10 two possessions later on a trick play when wide receiver Ricky Pearsall threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to White.

After another Colorado punt, the Sun Devils capped their evening with a 59-yard scoring drive, with Daniels scoring from 15 out to wrap up the march for a 35-10 lead.

CU did get on the board once more, driving 61 yards before settling for a 33-yard Becker field goal to complete the scoring for the night.

TURNING POINT: The Buffs seemed to finally grab momentum early in the second half with a long scoring drive that cut ASU's lead to 14-10. But the Sun Devils responded with a long touchdown drive of their own and Colorado never mounted another comeback.

KEY STATISTICS: ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels completed 18 of his 25 pass attempts for 236 yards … The CU defense did not register a takeaway for the second straight week … Colorado was flagged for eight penalties … CU was just 5-for-15 on third-down conversion attempts … CU finished with just 67 yards passing.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs have now lost three in a row, with Saturday's loss coming against a Pac-12 South foe.

UP NEXT: The Buffs return to Boulder next Saturday for a noon matchup with Pac-12 foe Southern California.