DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Buffaloes didn’t let the game or the Centennial Cup slip from their grasp.
Tyler Hansen ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more in helping hand his coach, Jon Embree, his first collegiate win Saturday, 28-14 over rival Colorado State.
The Rams (2-1) had just pulled within a touchdown when Hansen directed the Buffs (1-2) on a 16-play, 85-yard drive that ate up more than 10 minutes in the fourth quarter.
“That was so frustrating,” Rams pass-rusher Nordly Capi said. “That was very embarrassing on defense. To have the ball over seven minutes is very embarrassing, but to have it 10 minutes, it’s very disappointing.”
The drive lasted 10:03, just four seconds shorter than the school record set in 1961 against Miami.
Hansen, who capped the drive with a 2-yard keeper with just over a minute remaining, said his coaches told him to milk the clock when he trotted out for the drive after three of the Buffs’ four second-half possessions had ended in punts.
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“So, I kept looking at the clock. I was aware of the play clock and just kind of milked it, milked it,” Hansen said. “And we got those (two holding) penalties and we just kept fighting.”
“It was big,” said tailback Rodney Stewart, who amassed 98 yards on the ground and added 93 yards receiving. “It was the fourth quarter. We were trying to maintain the lead.”
For a change. They had to play catch-up at Hawaii and against Cal.
“Here is our chance, here is our opportunity,” Embree said as he gathered his offense just before they went out to start the drive at their own 15.
It wasn’t pretty. They had two holding calls, and Paul Richardson, who was held to 27 yards on four catches a week after setting the school record with 284 yards receiving, dropped his third pass of the game.
“To their credit, they never blinked,” Embree said. “They never blinked when we had the holding calls and had a long-yardage situation. We had a dropped pass that was a big play, but they never blinked because they knew it was always about the next play.”
Colorado linebacker Josh Hartigan, who had two sacks, enjoyed the breather that lasted most of the fourth quarter.
“It shouldn’t have been that close,” he said. “We needed them to go out and score a touchdown.”
The Rams were playing their first game without standout senior linebacker Mychal Sisson, who broke his right ankle last week and watched on crutches from the sideline.
The bevy of backups helped stifle the Buffs until they got their ground game going.
After setting a school record by passing for 474 yards against Cal, Hansen was limited to 215 yards, but he threw two touchdown passes and rumbled into the end zone twice himself.
The second one capped the long drive and came after Rams wide receiver Charles Lovett took a quick pass from quarterback Pete Thomas in the left flat and threw a perfect 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Crockett Gillmore to make it 21-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Hansen’s TD tosses covered 25 yards to Kyle Cefalo and 44 yards to Toney Clemons, who made up for Richardson’s frustrating afternoon.
“Today was a rough day, but our receivers showed that we have more than just one receiver,” Richardson said. “They all had awesome games.”
Cefalo’s first career TD catch came after the Buffaloes caught a big break. Colorado State’s Joe McKay got a hand on Darragh O’Neill’s punt, the ball bounced for 11 yards and CSU’s Eric Niederberger tried to pounce on it, only to watch it squib away from him and into the hands of Colorado’s Ryan Deehan.
“That was heartbreaking.” Capi said. “We were excited to see the punt get blocked and the next thing we hear, ‘Defense up, defense up.’ We’re winded, we’re trying to get our rest and we’ve got to get up and play defense.”
Embree, whose first win as a Buffaloes player in 1983 also came against the Rams, held the Centennial Cup aloft on the field, then tucked it like a football and took it into the tunnel, relishing his first win as a head coach.
“It felt great,” Buffs guard Ryan Miller said. “I wish we had gotten him two more by now.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)