Buffs Topple Oregon State in 2 OT
BOULDER — In a game that featured improbable moments, big plays on both sides of the ball and a season's worth of character testing, the Colorado Buffaloes leaned on their freshman kicker Saturday night to produce the overtime winner.
CU's Cole Becker came through, calmly booting a 43-yard field goal in the second overtime to lift the Buffs to a 37-34 win over Oregon State in front of a delirious Folsom Field homecoming crowd of 47,984.
Karl Dorrell's Buffs improved to 3-6 overall and 2-4 in Pac-12 play. The Beavers, who forced overtime with a 60-yard Everett Hayes field goal as time expired in regulation, fell to 5-4, 3-3.
Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis finished 15-for-24 with three touchdowns passing, along with a 9-yard rushing touchdown in the first overtime. Buffs RB Jarek Broussard had his first 100-yard game of the season, carrying 24 times for 151 yards, and Brenden Rice, Daniel Arias and Montana Lemonious-Craig each had touchdown catches.
Defensively, Colorado bent but didn't break when it mattered most, coming up with a stop in the second overtime as well as a key fourth-quarter stop that gave the offense the chance for a go-ahead touchdown. Safety Isaiah Lewis had five tackles and his second interception of the season, linebacker Quinn Perry had nine tackles in the absence of Nate Landman, and defensive end Carson Wells had seven tackles, including a sack and two quarterback hurries.
"That was a 60-minute fight — actually, more than that," Dorrell said. "I felt like our team grew up a little bit today. They rose to the circumstances. They didn't panic and were able to finish the game. So that was a big, big positive. It was a good win for us. Definitely stuff that we can continue to work on and do as we finish up the season. And we'll just see where it takes us."
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs led for most of the game, but were forced to rally late in the fourth quarter. A 16-yard Lewis touchdown pass to Lemonious-Craig to cap a 72-yard march gave CU a 27-24 lead with 2:24 left to play.
OSU's Hayes then missed a 51-yard field goal on the Beavers' next possession, but CU couldn't move the ball after taking over and punted.
The Beavers reaped a 26-yard return, giving them the ball near midfield with five seconds remaining. They gained 9 yards on first down before Hayes booted a 60-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into OT.
That might have been enough to make some teams fold. But the Buffs bowed their necks and went to work.
"Our mindset was to go out there and score again," Lewis said. "That's what we did and came out with a win."
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime, with Lewis cashing in for the Buffs on a 9-yard run for a 34-27 lead before the Beavers answered with a 1-yard B.J. Baylor run.
But the Beavers came up empty on their next possession when Hayes was wide left on a 38-yard try.
That was all the Buffs needed. Colorado ran the ball three times up the middle before Becker booted the game winner. The kick was sweet redemption after he had missed a 35-yard attempt early in the second quarter.
"When he missed that first one, I said, 'Hey, you got the bad one out of the way,'" Dorrell said with a laugh. "It's definitely a great moment for him to overcome some adversity and to come back and get himself straightened out for making a 52-yarder (also in the second quarter), and then he makes the game winner."
The Buffs came into the game intent upon creating a fast start, and they did just that. CU hadn't scored a first-quarter touchdown since the second game of the season, but finally broke that drought Saturday.
CU first took the opening kick and marched to the OSU 5-yard line before settling for a 28-yard Becker field goal.
But the Colorado defense quickly gave the offense another possession by forcing a three-and-out from the Beavers, and the offense took full advantage.
Moving from their own 21, the Buffs drove 79 yards in seven plays to find paydirt. Lewis connected with LaVontae Shenault — back in action for the first time since the season opener — for a 23-yard gain on third-and-long, and the Buffs converted another third down three plays later when tight end Matt Lynch took a direct snap from center and bulled forward for a 3-yard gain.
Lewis then found a wide-open Daniel Arias from 43 yards out on the next play and Becker's PAT gave CU a 10-0 lead with 6:47 still to play in the first period.
"We challenged (Lewis) about starting faster and doing some positive things early," Dorrell said. "I felt they came out and did some really good things at the start of the game."
But the Beavers finally found their run game on the ensuing possession. OSU marched 75 yards in 13 plays and got a 14-yard scoring run from Jack Colletto — the converted quarterback who now plays primarily at linebacker — on fourth-and-1 to cut Colorado's lead to 10-7.
The Buffs then missed a field goal try on their next possession and the Beavers answered by driving into Colorado territory. But CU safety Isaiah Lewis ended the march with his second interception of the year.
The two teams then traded punts before the Buffs pushed their lead to six after a short OSU punt. CU drove to the Oregon State 18, but two penalties pushed Colorado back to the OSU 34-yard line. The Buffs then got a career-long 52-yard field goal from Becker for a 13-7 lead with 39 seconds left in the half.
That, however, was just enough time for the Beavers to drive within field goal range, and a 45-yard Hayes field goal as time expired sent Colorado into intermission with a 13-10 lead.
The two teams traded punts early in the third quarter before CU defensive end Carson Wells came up with a big fourth-down play, forcing an incompletion from OSU quarterback Chance Nolan.
That gave the Buffs the ball at the OSU 41-yard line. Six plays later, including runs of 14 and 16 yards from Jarek Broussard, Lewis found Brenden Rice for a 5-yard touchdown pass to give CU a 20-10 lead.
But the Beavers quickly answered. OSU drove 75 yards for a touchdown, capping the drive with a 31-yard Trey Lowe touchdown run to cut Colorado's lead back to three, 20-17 with 3:19 to play in the third quarter.
Colorado moved to midfield on its next possession, but was forced to punt and the Beavers answered with an 80-yard scoring drive in 14 plays. A 27-yard Nolan pass to Tre'shaun Harrison gave OSU their first lead of the game, a 24-20 edge with 8:23 to play.
CU couldn't put together a drive on its next possession, but the defense answered with a three-and-out stop to force a Beavers punt and give the ball back to the Buffs at their own 28 with 5:37 to play.
They didn't stay in their own territory for long. Broussard ripped off a 49-yard run — his longest of the year — on first down to put CU deep in Oregon State territory. Six plays later, including a touchdown nullified by a penalty, Lewis stepped up in the pocket under pressure and rifled a 16-yard scoring pass to Lemonious-Craig. The freshman made a terrific catch in coverage and just got a foot down in the end zone before being shoved out of bounds for the score.
That gave Colorado a 27-24 lead with 2:24 to play.
"This team is starting to realize that adversity strikes in a lot of moments in the game and their confidence in being able to work through these difficult moments is growing," Dorrell said. "You know, we've been challenged a lot this season. They're starting to navigate and find a way. They're starting to deal with difficult circumstances and overcoming those things."
The Beavers' Hayes then missed a 51-yard field goal with 32 seconds to play on OSU's next possession, but the Buffs couldn't get a first down when they took over and were forced to punt.
But a 26-yard punt return and a 9-yard gain on first down put the Beavers in range for Hayes' improbable 60-yard kick that tied the game, sending it into overtime.
"The first thing I did was look at our sideline just to see what their thoughts were," Dorrell said. "It wasn't like they hung their heads. This team has grown."
TURNING POINT: This one was anyone's ballgame until the end — but CU's fourth-quarter touchdown drive covering 72 yards to regain the lead was a big moment for the Buffs.
KEY STATISTIC: The Buffs did not turn the ball over and had one defensive takeaway … CU had 222 yards rushing, the best since 261 in the opener vs. Northern Colorado, and Broussard notched his first 100-yard game of the season with 151 yards on the ground … The Buffs did not give up a quarterback sack … Three different CU players caught touchdown passes … Lewis was a very efficient 15-for-24 for 170 yards and three touchdowns, his second straight game with three TD passes.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs kept their postseason hopes alive, but they must win their last three games to finish 6-6. More importantly, it was their first win this season over a team with a winning record.
UP NEXT: The Buffs hit the road next Saturday for a 7 p.m. game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.