There appears to be a recipe for wins so far in the Mike MacIntyre era at Colorado.

Establish a double-digit lead, give it all away and then some, but storm back to send Buffs fans home happy.

MacIntyre's first team in Boulder proved to be a gritty bunch again Saturday winning his debut in front of the home crowd at Folsom Field 38-24 against Central Arkansas, ranked No. 5 in the nation in the Football Championship Subdivision.

The victory snapped the Buffs' six-game home losing streak. CU is 2-0 to start the season for the first time since starting 3-0 in 2008.

"These young men keep fighting," MacIntyre said. "They never get down. They keep playing. Yeah, we made some mistakes, but they just keep playing."

"...Our kids kept fighting, kept battling and kept clawing and never hung their head. I just can't tell you how proud of them I am, of their fight."

The game was played in front of the smallest crowd to see the Buffs play at Folsom Field since the 1988 home finale against Kansas State. The announced attendance Saturday was 35,168. It is the first time CU has attracted fewer than 40,000 fans to a home game since that same game 25 years ago.

It began in ominous fashion when players stormed out of the tunnel leading to the locker room through a cloud of smoke and past Ralphie V, who traditionally leads them on to the field. It was the first time Ralphie missed her run since 2002.


"I was so caught up in the moment I wanted to race Ralphie," wide receiver Paul Richardson said. "... I don't think Ralphie is mad at us. I think everything is all right."

It became obvious almost immediately that the CU offensive line would struggle with the Central Arkansas defensive front when CU failed to do much with its first two possessions.

CU quarterback Connor Wood found wide receiver Paul Richardson 10 minutes into the game for a 55-yard touchdown pass. The beautiful pitch and catch was the third scoring connection of the season between the tandem. There was more to come.

Richardson produced his second consecutive 200-yard receiving game with 11 catches for 209 yards and two scores. He is the first player in CU history to put together two such games and is now less than 50 yards shy of surpassing the leading receiver on last year's team in terms of yardage for the season.

Wood faced plenty of pressure and was responsible for four turnovers but he also threw three touchdown passes.

The Buffs extended their lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter when cornerback Greg Henderson intercepted a pass from Central Arkansas quarterback Wynrick Smothers and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.

It was CU's first interception in nine games, dating back to the Washington State game early last season. It was the second return for a touchdown by Henderson this year. He also scored on a fumble return in a Week 1 victory over Colorado State.

CU looked like it might finally make it look easy against an FCS opponent after losing to Montana State in 2006, squeaking by Eastern Washington in 2008 and losing to Sacramento State last season.

But the Bears proved to be resilient and determined.

Smothers directed his team on a pair of scoring drives in the final 5 minutes of the second quarter to tie the score at 14.

Smothers connected with wide receiver Dezmin Lewis for an impressive 23-yard touchdown pass and a little more than 4 minutes later he found tight end Chase Dixon in the corner of the end zone to tie it. Both Central Arkansas receivers made highlight-reel catches to score.

The Buffs' special teams woes returned at the start of the second half when they allowed an 88-yard kickoff return that set up a 28-yard go-ahead field goal from the Bears. Central Arkansas led 17-14 and was brimming with confidence.

CU later tied the score with a 31-yard field goal from Will Oliver.

On the first play of the fourth quarter facing a deafening roar in the south end of the stadium in front of the student section, Central Arkansas took a 24-17 lead when Smothers punched it in a 1-yard quarterback sneak that came on fourth down.

On the ensuing drive, Wood threw an interception that gave the Bears the ball near midfield and the Buffs looked like they might be in trouble.

But the defense came up with a momentum changing play for the second straight week when safety Jered Bell intercepted a tipped ball and returned it 79 yards for a tying score. The last time the Buffs returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game was the Bowl against Boston College in 1999.

CU true freshman Chidobe Awuzie came up with another turnover minutes later when he ripped the ball away from a Central Arkansas receiver. The CU offense made the most of the opportunity and reclaimed the lead when Wood found a remarkably wide-open Richardson in the middle of the field for 30-yard score.

The Buffs added some insurance later when Wood connected with Nelson Spruce for his third touchdown pass of the night. Cornerback Kenneth Crawley ended a late attempt to rally by the Bears when he made his first career interception in the end zone.

Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at or

Colorado 38, Cent. Arkansas 24

Cent. Arkansas 0 14 3 7--24

Colorado 7 7 3 21--38

First Quarter

Col -- Richardson 55 pass from C.Wood (Oliver kick), 4:58.

Second Quarter

Col -- Henderson 46 interception return (Oliver kick), 11:55.

CeAr -- Lewis 23 pass from Smothers (Denker kick), 4:37.

CeAr -- Dixon 11 pass from Smothers (Denker kick), :22.

Third Quarter

CeAr -- FG Denker 28, 13:54.

Col -- FG Oliver 31, 11:28.

Fourth Quarter

CeAr -- Smothers 1 run (Denker kick), 14:56.

Col -- Bell 79 interception return (Oliver kick), 10:43.

Col -- Richardson 30 pass from C.Wood (Oliver kick), 9:16.

Col -- Spruce 39 pass from C.Wood (Oliver kick), 4:24.

A -- 35,168.

CeAr Col

First downs 19 23

Rushes-yards 26-60 34-84

Passing 280 341

Comp-Att-Int 33-55-3 23-36-2

Return Yards 14 125

Punts-Avg. 6-42.3 3-46.7

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-2

Penalties-Yards 6-51 8-64

Time of Possession 33:18 26:42


RUSHING -- Cent. Arkansas, Matthews 13-32, Smothers 10-18, Wilson 2-9, Veasley 1-1. Colorado, T.Jones 12-58, Powell 6-22, Goodson 1-9, Abron 8-9, C.Wood 6-3, Team 1-(minus 17).

PASSING -- Cent. Arkansas, Smothers 33-55-3-280. Colorado, C.Wood 23-36-2-341.

RECEIVING -- Cent. Arkansas, Lewis 9-89, Matthews 7-46, Gardner 4-49, Dixon 4-36, Wilson 4-21, Murphy 1-13, Watts 1-9, Burdette 1-6, Hart 1-6, D.Smith 1-5. Colorado, Richardson 11-209, McCulloch 5-50, Spruce 4-62, Canty 1-8, Ross 1-7, Powell 1-5.