Arizona 42, Colorado 34
Play of the game: Khalil Tate's 39-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Poindexter, with 7:11 to play in the third quarter, was one of many big plays against the CU secondary. That one gave the Wildcats the lead for good, 32-31.
Turning point: After CU pulled within 35-34 on the final play of the third quarter, Arizona went on a quick, four-play, 85-yard scoring drive to increase the lead to eight. CU never recovered from that point.
Top 3 Buffs of the game
1. QB Steven Montez: Although beat up throughout the night, he still completed 27-of-42 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns.
2. WR Juwann Winfree: Had his most productive game of the season, with eight catches for 101 yards. He had several big catches to keep the chains moving.
3. PK Tyler Francis: Thrown into action for the first time at the collegiate level, the true freshman walk-on went 2-for-2 on field goals, including a 48-yarder, and 4-for-4 on extra points.
Colorado's bowl hopes took a significant hit with this loss. Home games against a pair of top-20 foes - Washington State and Utah - are coming up in the next two weeks, and this may have been CU's best chance at its sixth win.
TUCSON, Ariz. — If Colorado's 2016 football season was called The Rise, what do we call the 2018 season?
The Fall? The Collapse? The Nose Dive?
CU's once-promising season continued to slip away on Friday night, as Khalil Tate and the Arizona Wildcats knocked off the reeling Buffaloes, 42-34, at Arizona Stadium.
"It sucks not winning, especially how hard we work week in and week out," quarterback Steven Montez said after CU's fourth consecutive loss. "It's tough.
Once 5-0 and ranked 19th in the country, the Buffs (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) are now all alone in last place in the South division. It's all too familiar territory for a program that continues to struggle to win games that matter most.
In the last calendar year, the Buffs are 0-7 when playing for bowl eligibility, including 0-4 this year. Win No. 6 seems to be the hardest one to achieve.
"I thought our kids battled," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "We had opportunities to win the football game."
Yeah, they did, but once again they failed to capitalize on those opportunities and the team on the other side made more plays.
Arizona (5-5, 4-3) rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to outscore the Buffs 42-24 in the final three quarters.
Tate, the dynamic Wildcats quarterback, shredded CU for 327 rushing yards - an NCAA record for a quarterback - in a 45-42 Arizona win last year.
This time, Tate sliced up the Buffs with his arm. Taking advantage of CU's injury-riddled secondary, Tate threw for a career-high 350 yards and five touchdowns. Three of his touchdown passes covered 40, 39 and 57 yards.
"Khalil ran around and threw it up in the air and their guys came down with it on long, delayed plays," MacIntyre said. "Those are tough to stop. We have to get a better pass rush. You can't cover a guy for that long down field that many times. He made some nice throws."
The last of Tate's touchdowns came on the fourth play of the fourth quarter, when he connected with Cedric Peterson for 57 yards to give Arizona a 42-34 lead with 13 minutes to play.
CU got the ball two more times, driving to the Arizona 22 one on possession and to the 18 on another. Both drives came up empty.
That was a common theme for the Buffs.
CU's first offensive possession started at the Arizona 14 after a 59-yard punt return by Ronnie Blackmon. It ended with a failed fourth-and-2 attempt from the 6-yard line.
Up 7-0 in the first, the Buffs started another drive at the Arizona 7 after recovering a fumble. They lost 1 yard in three offensive plays and settled for a field goal.
Overall, CU had three drives inside the Arizona 25-yard line come up empty and another result in just a field goal.
"We just have to do a better job of when opportunities present themselves, we have to make the plays," said quarterback Steven Montez, who completed 27-of-42 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns. "I don't think it's a question of effort or guys going hard or guys giving it all they've got. What's kind of pulling us back and dragging us down is when those opportunities to make plays present themselves, we have to capture them and we have to make them."
Despite some missed opportunities early, the Buffs built a 10-0 lead after the first quarter.
Arizona, however, responded with a 26-point second quarter, taking a 26-24 lead into halftime.
It set up a tight second half, and Arizona never did pull away, but the Wildcats continued to make big plays on the struggling CU defense. Arizona finished with 566 yards in total offense.
"It sucks to see us fall apart like that later in the game," linebacker Drew Lewis said. "We tried to fight all we could."
For the fourth consecutive week, the Buffs lost the fight, and their pursuit of bowl eligibility continues.
"I think every year is a tough year, every game is a tough game," MacIntyre said. "We have a ton of people out (with injuries) and I thought the way the kids kept fighting and not hanging their head when all those people were going down was impressive.
"I think they just have to keep battling. The coaching staff has to keep battling and keep fighting. We have to keep finding a way."
Arizona 42, Colorado 34Colorado 10 14 10 0 — 34
Arizona 0 26 9 7 — 42
First quarter: COL — Nixon 8 run (Francis kick), 5:35 COL — FG Francis 25, 3:56Second quarter: ARI — FG Havrisik 49, 14:33 ARI — Berryhill 40 pass from Tate (Pollack kick), 10:33 ARI — Poindexter 1 pass from Tate (Pollack kick), 6:15 COL — Evans 17 pass from Montez (Francis kick), 2:50 ARI — S.Brown 12 pass from Tate (kick failed), :59 COL — McMillian 57 pass from Montez (Francis kick), :33 ARI — FG Havrisik 55, :00 Third quarter: COL — T.Brown 20 pass from Montez (Francis kick), 9:26 ARI — Poindexter 39 pass from Tate (pass failed), 7:11 ARI — FG Pollack 41, 2:39 COL — FG Francis 48, :00 Fourth quarter: ARI — Peterson 57 pass from Tate (Pollack kick), 13:04 A — 43,080.
First downs 27 27
Rushes-yards 32-40 47-216
Passing 343 350
Comp-Att-Int 27-43-1 17-22-1
Return Yards 92 79
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-52 12-129
Time of Possession 30:56 29:04
RUSHING — Colorado, McMillian 11-59, Nixon 2-6, Evans 3-(minus 1), Montez 16-(minus 24). Arizona, J.Taylor 40-192, Tate 4-15, Mariscal 1-9, Tilford 1-1, (Team) 1-(minus 1).
PASSING — Colorado, McMillian 0-1-0-0, Montez 27-42-1-343. Arizona, Tate 17-22-1-350.
RECEIVING — Colorado, Winfree 8-101, Jackson 6-25, Ento 5-82, T.Brown 3-37, McMillian 2-68, Evans 2-21, Nixon 1-9. Arizona, S.Brown 5-57, D.Cooper 3-63, Peterson 2-72, Ellison 2-49, Poindexter 2-40, Berryhill 1-40, Wolma 1-17, J.Taylor 1-12.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None.