Once Travon McMillian got through the first level of the New Hampshire defense on the first play of the third quarter, the Colorado senior wasn’t going to stop.
McMillian’s 75-yard touchdown run to open the second half was the highlight of his sensational performance in the Buffaloes’ 45-14 win on Saturday at Folsom Field.
A graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, McMillian finished with a career-high 162 yards on 15 carries, while also scoring twice.
“The guys up front, they’ve been blocking their tails off,” McMillian said. “I give all my credit to them. They gave me a crease and I hit it. Once I hit it, I got in the open field and I wasn’t trying to get caught. Hats off to those guys.”
And, hats off to McMillian, who is having the type of season — so far — that he wanted when he made the decision this summer to leave Virginia Tech after four years and play his final season in Boulder.
After redshirting in 2014, McMillian played three seasons with the Hokies, rushing for 2,153 yards and 16 touchdowns from 2015-17. His best single game total at Tech was 142 yards against Duke in 2015, and his longest run was 69 yards, in 2016.
Throughout his time at Tech, McMillian saw his workload decrease, as the Hokies used a committee approach to their run game. He was held under 100 yards in each of his last 19 games with the Hokies.
So far with the Buffs, he’s got 290 yards in three games, with two 100-yard performances.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work this offseason to try to have a really consistent year,” he said. “It’s good that I’m having a consistent year. I’m going to try to get better throughout practice each and every day, remain humble and keep working.”
McMillian’s first touchdown was a 1-yard run from the wildcat formation.
“I really like being in the wildcat,” said McMillian, who was recruited to Tech as a quarterback. “It kind of brings me back to the good old days when I played quarterback in high school. I enjoy running the ball out of it because you get that extra blocker. I’m just going to keep doing my thing as much as I can.”
Shenault takes it easy
Receiver Laviska Shenault had another spectacular play, scoring a 28-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
The sophomore had a relatively quiet day, however. The nation’s leader in catches and receiving yards per game coming in, he finished with five catches for 67 yards.
Shenault didn’t play much, however, and not at all in the second half. He injured the AC joint in his right shoulder last week against Nebraska and was still sore Saturday.
“We didn’t want him to get hit a ton if we could help it,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “At halftime we talked to him and said, ‘Let’s shut him down.’ He’s going to be fine, but he was a little sore.”
Shenault said after the game that he’ll be fine, and playing was really about his pain tolerance. He’s happy to have a bye this week though.
“Big time,” he said of the timing of the bye.
Moretti gets the start
Redshirt freshman Jake Moretti made the first start of his career, lining up at left guard for the Buffs. It was his first start since 2015, which was his junior year at Pomona High School.
“It was really cool, man,” said Moretti, who has battled knee and leg injuries the past two years. “It’s been a really long road, but the coolest thing was just sharing that moment with everyone in this building that’s helped me out, between the training staff, the coaches, the strength staff. I couldn’t thank them enough.”
Moretti started in place of Brett Tonz, who tweaked his ankle a week earlier at Nebraska and was not quite ready to go. CU’s line struggled at Nebraska, and the Buffs tinkered with different combinations on Saturday.
At different times, the Buffs used junior college transfer Kary Kutsch at right guard and left guard. William Sherman also played part of the game at left tackle. Starting left tackle Josh Kaiser also played some of the game at right tackle.
Rough day for Noyer
Backup quarterback Sam Noyer threw his first passes of the season — but also had the first interception of his career.
With 6:56 to play in the third, Noyer was picked off by UNH safety Pop Lacey, who returned the ball 15 yards for a touchdown and the Wildcats’ first points of the game.
“I just went and told him, ‘Hey, brush it off. This isn’t the first pick you’ve thrown in your life and it’s not going to be the last pick you ever throw,'” starter Steven Montez said. “One snap and clear and get back out there.”
Overall, Noyer was 3-for-5 for 14 yards.
Back on track
Buffs kicker James Stefanou missed a pair of fourth quarter field goal attempts at Nebraska last week and spent this week recovering from a groin injury.
The sophomore bounced back by hitting his only field goal attempt Saturday – from 19 yards out – and connecting on all six of his extra points.
Stefanou is 50-for-50 on extra points in his career, extending his school record for most consecutive successful PATs to start a career.
CU has scored 30-plus points in each of the first three games. It’s only the fifth time the Buffs have done that (1896, 1923, 1993 and 1995). … CU distributed 42,360 tickets for the game, but counted only 29,839 coming through the turnstiles. … Montez improved to 10-8 as CU’s starting quarterback.