BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – A failed fourth-and-goal play, a flubbed fake punt and a turnover all went against Colorado in the second half, turning a close game into a runaway at the end.
Ka’Deem Carey rushed for four touchdowns and Arizona extended Colorado’s Pac-12 losing streak to a dozen games with a 44-20 win over the Buffaloes on Saturday night.
“It’s very disheartening for the kids,” Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre said of the lack of success within the conference. “We’ve got to keep improving. We’ve just got to do it. We’ve got to fighting, keep moving forward.”
Getting a grip defensively might be the place to start, considering Arizona racked up 670 yards in offense.
Carey, the nation’s leading rusher, ran for 119 yards on 23 carries. But it was his quarterback, B.J. Denker, who surprised the Buffs on the ground with a career-best 192 yards on 15 keepers.
“I think we just weren’t keyed in to some of our responsibilities,” defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe said. “It was a big thing to make sure we don’t get him running, but obviously, we allowed him to run.”
Denker got 100 of those yards on two scampers up the middle, a career-long 54-yard gem and a 46-yarder that got the Wildcats (5-2, 2-2) out from the shadow of their own goal line.
“We played with them the first half but didn’t come out well in the second half,” Uzo-Diribe said. “It hurts because they’re definitely a team we thought we could beat.”
An irate MacIntyre said after the game he had no regrets about some of his late game decisions that went awry and instead fumed over the shortcomings of his defense.
“We didn’t tackle ’em,” MacIntyre said. “We couldn’t tackle the quarterback. We must have missed him seven times. Probably 200 yards of offense off missed tackles of the quarterback. We’ve got to work on tackling better.”
Carey, who came in averaging 160 yards a game, scored from 1, 7, 1 and 6 yards out – one TD in each quarter. He’s now reached the end zone in nine straight quarters against the Buffaloes (3-4, 0-4). Last year, he rolled up a conference record 366 yards and five TDs on the Buffaloes.
His last score Saturday night came after the Buffs tried a fake punt on fourth-and-5 from their own 17, but Trevor Ermisch tackled punter Darragh O’Neill at the 18.
Two plays later, Carey was in the end zone again for a 41-20 lead.
Asked why he opted for the fake punt down 14 points with plenty of time left, MacIntyre said, “Did you see us play defense? We couldn’t stop them. Thought it was a good place to try it. He was supposed to read it. We’ve had five on this year. He’s punted all five. We thought we had a chance. He thought he had a chance and didn’t get it.”
Denker also threw for 265 yards and a touchdown.
Sefo Liufau finished 17 of 32 for 212 yards and a touchdown for Colorado. He threw a late interception.
Carey’s best run of the night was a 30-yard scamper that set up another score in the first half that gave the Wildcats a 24-13 lead at the break after they’d spent much of the second quarter playing catch up.
Colorado pulled to 27-20 on Michael Adkins’ 1-yard TD run in the third quarter, but Carey’s second 1-yard TD run restored the Wildcats’ double-digit lead, and after the Buffaloes’ incompletion on a 4th-and-goal play, Arizona was never in trouble again.
Casey’s 7-yard TD run through a wall of tacklers gave Arizona the lead for good at 17-13 with 2:28 left in the first half. But the ‘Cats weren’t through.
After forcing a three-and-out, Carey broke free for a 30-yard rumble to the Colorado 44 on first down, and Denker hit Nate Phillips on the next play with a pinpoint pass just as he crossed the goal line.
Carey’s first touchdown run capped Arizona’s 14-play, 88-yard initial drive, but the Buffaloes needed just 13 seconds to tie it up.
Paul Richardson beat cornerback Jonathan McKnight in single coverage, hauled in Sefo Liufau’s pass at midfield and outraced McKnight into the end zone. Richardson’s cousin, Arizona cornerback Shaquille Robinson, trailing the play, pleaded with the side judge to rule him out of bounds inside the 5, but a replay review upheld the touchdown, his seventh of the season.
The team exchanged field goals, a 37-yarder for Arizona’s Jake Smith and a career-long 53-yarder for Will Oliver. Then, Oliver split the uprights on a 48-yarder that gave the Buffaloes their first lead at 13-10 with 5:17 left in the first half.
The Richardsons had some spirited moments before Paul went out with a right ankle injury early in the fourth quarter. After an 11-yard catch in the opening drive, Paul Richardson jumped up and got in his cousin’s face, and the official separated them. Later in the quarter, Paul argued unsuccessfully for a holding flag on Shaq after hauling in a tough 2-yard catch.
– By DENNIS GEORGATOS, Associated Press
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)