SALT LAKE CITY — Jaleel Awini finally got the opportunity for which he had been waiting.

It just came a little too late.

For the first time in over two years, Awini got to play quarterback during Colorado's 20-14 loss to Utah.

"It was fun," said Awini, who ran four times for 20 yards. "I think we needed a change of pace in the game and I think I was able to do that. I think I opened a little more holes for the running back, too."

Awini became CU's emergency quarterback two weeks ago when starter Sefo Liufau went down with a season-ending injury, and the Buffs had an emergency situation in the fourth quarter, trailing 20-7 with 9 minutes, 36 seconds to play.

Awini didn't throw the ball, but ran read-option plays and helped CU move down the field. He alternated with third-string QB Jordan Gehrke on the drive, which culminated in a CU touchdown to cut the deficit to 20-14.

Taking out sacks, CU had 103 yards on running plays, with 47 of them on that drive.

"Oh, I was itching (to play)," he said. "I was a little disappointed that it didn't come a little bit earlier, but I was just glad I had a chance to go in and help on a scoring drive."

CU got the ball back with 2:28 to play, but Awini stayed on the sidelines.

"The passing game, he hasn't worked on that as much," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "We had him ready if we had to do any third down or fourth down type of situations. As far as him dropping back and throwing it, he hasn't been able to do that as much."


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A quarterback at Rangeview High School and at Air Force in 2012 and 2013, Awini came to CU as a quarterback in 2014, but had to sit out that season because of the NCAA transfer rule. This past spring, he saw a logjam at QB and switched the linebacker.

This season, he played 139 snaps on defense, with 21 tackles. He was also one of the team leaders on special teams.

Next year, the Buffs are hoping to have Liufau, Cade Apsay, Gehrke and Steven Montez at quarterback. Awini wouldn't mind having a shot at the job, too.

"Wherever the team needs me," he said. "If quarterback is the answer, I'd love to be at quarterback; if not I'll play linebacker again. If not (linebacker), somewhere on offense, hopefully. I still have a little itch to play quarterback and prove to people I can throw a little bit."

Block party

Utah blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt by the Buffs' Diego Gonzalez in the first quarter, giving CU opponents six blocks (on either punts or kicks) this season.

"We had a mess up inside and we've been working on it," MacIntyre said. "The kid didn't do it right, they squeezed through and got their hand up."

The school record for blocks allowed is seven, in 1995 and 2003. CU last had six kicks blocked in 2011. From 2012-14, CU had just two kicks blocked.

With the block, Gonzalez capped a tough year. He went 18-for-29 on field goals and missed at least one in each of the last seven games.

"It's beyond frustrating," MacIntyre said of the field goal unit in general.

Kafovalu ejected

During the second quarter, CU defensive tackle Samson Kafovalu was ejected for targeting.

Utah running back Joe Williams was already down when Kafovalu came in late with a helmet-to-helmet hit. The Buffs were penalized 15 yards and Kafovalu got the automatic targeting ejection.

Kafovalu was third Buff to get thrown out for targeting this year. Safety Afolabi Laguda was penalized in Week 2 against Massachusetts and Jimmie Gilbert in Week 3 against Colorado State.

Milestones for Lindsay

CU sophomore Phillip Lindsay hit a couple of career milestones Saturday.

Lindsay topped the 1,000-yard mark for career rushing yards (he now has 1,042) and the 1,000-yard mark for career kickoff return yards (1,003). He's the first player in CU history to hit that mark in both categories.

Lindsay finished the season with a team-high 653 rushing yards.

Notable

Utah has won four consecutive games against the Buffs. All five meetings between the teams since 2011 have been decided by seven points or less. ... According to CU, this was the first Buffs game with snow falling during the game since Nov. 11, 2000, against Iowa State in Boulder. ... Senior Christian Powell, who led the Buffs in rushing the previous three years, finished his career with 2,040 rushing yards, ranking 17th in CU history. ... CU's captains on Saturday were Jered Bell, Stephane Nembot, Kenneth Olugbode and Nelson Spruce.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.