BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Rodney Stewart ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another, helping Colorado avoid its first winless season at 87-yeear Folsom Field with a 48-29 win over Arizona Saturday.
Tyler Hansen threw two TD passes and hauled in Stewart’s touchdown toss on a flea-flicker as the Buffaloes (2-9) recorded their first Pac-12 win after six losses in their new league since bolting the Big 12 last year.
The Wildcats (2-8, 1-7) came in as double-digit favorites but fell behind quickly and their comeback attempt wasn’t helped by the sustained 45 mph winds that gusted to 71 mph in the fourth quarter.
Arizona’s Nick Foles was 35 for 53 for 352 yards, but he had three interceptions and lost a fumble to go with his one touchdown.
The Wildcats trailed by 24 in the third quarter but cut their deficit to 34-23. Linebacker Tra’Mayne Bondurant returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown and then Foles completed all six of his passes for 68 yards on an 88-yard drive that ended with his 11-yard strike to David Douglas. However, Douglas couldn’t hold onto the 2-point conversion pass.
The Buffaloes went 80 yards in six plays with Stewart taking the handoff and scoring from 11 yards out to make it 41-23, then the Wildcats scored again on Ka’Deem Carey’s second rushing touchdown, and again the 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
After the `Cats recovered the onside kick, Jason Espinoza’s interception at midfield led to Stewart’s fourth touchdown, a 9-yard scamper.
The Buffaloes benefited from a couple of questionable calls on two TD drives as they built a 34-10 lead, their biggest of the season.
Arizona punter Kyle Dugandzic fielded a low snap from Josh Elias and trapped the ball on the grass. The officials ruled that before he recovered and got the punt off, his knee also touched the turf, downing the ball at the Wildcats 38. Although television replays showed his knee never touched, the play wasn’t overruled.
Three snaps later, tailback Josh Ford burst through the middle for a 29-yard score that put the Buffs ahead 20-10 at the half.
Colorado took the second-half kickoff and Hansen didn’t slide after a 19-yard scramble and was hit by cornerback Shaquille Richardson, who was whistled for a personal foul, tacking on 15 yards. That led to Hansen’s 15-yard TD toss to a diving Toney Clemons for a 27-10 lead.
On their next possession, Hansen tossed the ball Stewart, then flared out into the left flat to haul in a 14-yard flea-flicker touchdown throw from his tailback for his first career catch and a 34-10 lead.
Stewart’s only other career pass attempt, last season, also went for a touchdown.
High winds ahead of a winter storm wreaked havoc, especially in the kicking game, but also in the passing game, causing some throws to sail and others to sink. The goal post in the north end zone whipsawed much of the day and there were constant swirls of trash tumbling across the field, along with a couple of marching band members’ black hats.
Before the game, tents were prohibited from tailgating parties and some events with bounce houses and other inflatables were scrubbed. Even the kicking tee was tipped over by the winds during warm-ups.
Wide receiver Keenan Canty turned a short catch into a 39-yard gain on Colorado’s first drive, setting up Stewart’s 5-yard TD run.
After John Bonano’s 25-yard field goal, Hansen hooked up with freshman tailback Tony Jones for a 5-yard TD two plays after his errant pitch to Jones resulted in a 13-yard loss. Will Oliver’s extra point sailed wide left, his first miss in 23 tries.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)