Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado 38, UCLA 16
Play of the game: Naturally, it involves Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault. The two hooked up for a 57-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. It was the latest big play for the duo, which has led this team all year.
Turning point: Midway through the third quarter, the Buffs trailed 16-14, but responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive. They followed that by forcing a three-and-out by the UCLA offense and then a 13-play, 67-yard drive that gave the Buffs a 28-16 lead.
Top 3 Buffs of the game
1. WR Laviska Shenault: The sensational receiver was brilliant again, with 12 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, while adding a touchdown run.
2. QB Steven Montez: Sharp for the fourth game in a row, he was 22-for-26 for 237 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
3. OLB Drew Lewis: Had his best game of the season, with eight tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss.
Colorado has yet to beat a team with a winning record, but the Buffaloes continue to play well. They dominated the second half and set the tone for the Pac-12 season, rolling to a victory in the conference opener.
Naysayers will argue that the Colorado football team hasn’t beaten anyone this year.
Yet, the Buffaloes continue showing up on game day and beating everybody in their way.
On Friday night at Folsom Field, the Buffs dominated the second half and rolled to a 38-16 victory against UCLA in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
CU’s opponents are now 1-14 this year, but all that matters to the Buffs is that they are 4-0 for the first time since 1998. Most importantly, they have won their conference opener for just the third time in eight seasons in the Pac-12.
“It’s a great feeling for us,” senior safety Evan Worthington said. “It’s amazing for all of us. We’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing.
“Opening up the conference like this is great for us. We have plenty more games to go, but this is a great start.”
The Buffs had to fight off the scrappy Bruins (0-4, 0-1), who took a 16-14 lead on a field goal with 10 minutes, 36 seconds to play in the third quarter.
UCLA has been prone to collapsing this year, though. The Bruins gave up a 17-0 run to Cincinnati in their opener, a 35-0 run to Oklahoma in Week 2, and a 22-0 second-half run to Fresno State two weeks ago.
Colorado stung with the Bruins with a 24-0 second half surge, led by – who else? – Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault.
Overall, Montez went 22-for-26 for 237 yards and a touchdown. The junior quarterback also ran 11 times for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including a 35-yarder down the left sideline that capped the scoring midway through the fourth quarter.
Shenault, meanwhile, was brilliant again, finishing with 12 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, while adding a 1-yard touchdown run.
“In the second half, we played well,” Montez said. “We just came out and we started to play at our tempo. I think (the Bruins) kind of got a little tired because we were running that ball quick and making them run sideline to sideline, getting them back on the ball and running another play. I think the altitude kind of got them a little bit in the second half.
“Another part of it was just us doing our thing and just playing good football, (co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini) making great calls. We were putting guys out in space making people miss and just making plays.”
Those plays included several passes from Montez to Shenault, and a trick play with receiver Jay MacIntyre connecting with running back Kyle Evans for a 31-yard pass that put the Buffs inside the UCLA 10-yard line. Three plays later, Shenault scored on a 1-yard run to give the Buffs the lead for good, 21-16.
“(Jay) made a heck of a throw and Kyle made a heck of a catch,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “That was a big play in the game.”
Coming into the game as the nation’s leading receiver, Shenault topped the 100-yard mark for the third time in four games.
Running back Travon McMillian had his third 100-yard game, as well, rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the defense did its part.
UCLA scored on an 11-yard pass from freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Michael Ezeike midway through the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. From that point, CU kept the Bruins out of the end zone.
In the second half, UCLA had just three points and 98 yards on 26 plays.
It’s the second time in the last three games that CU has played significantly better on defense after intermission in a close game.
“Hats go off to our coaching staff,” coach MacIntyre said. “I thought our kids came out in the second half and kept playing and playing. This group of young men, they’ve done it twice now; they just don’t really blink. They’re really calm, they keep playing, they’re a physical group, they believe in each other. Hopefully we’ll keep doing that down the road.”
Down the road, the Buffs figure to run into tougher competition, beginning Oct. 6 with Arizona State (2-2) coming to Boulder.
Regardless of who they’ve defeated, the Buffs are off to their best start in two decades and have stated their case for a spot in the Associated Press Top 25 when the new poll is released on Sunday. The Buffs were just outside the rankings – 26th overall – in last week’s poll.
What matters to the Buffs, however, is simply staying focused and continuing what has worked so far this season.
“It feels good to go out there and get a win today,” Montez said. “We’ve been working hard. But, like I always say, this isn’t the end game for us. We still have another game next week at home against a very good ASU team.
“It’s really just now preparing for them.”
Colorado 38, UCLA 16
UCLA 10 3 3 0 — 16
Colorado 7 7 14 10 — 38
UCLA — Ezeike 11 pass from Thompson-Robinson (Molson kick), 7:26
COL — Shenault 57 pass from Montez (Stefanou kick), 5:00
UCLA — FG Molson 21, :57
COL — Montez 10 run (Stefanou kick), 6:13
UCLA — FG Molson 50, 1:40
UCLA — FG Molson 40, 10:36
COL — Shenault 1 run (Stefanou kick), 7:45
COL — McMillian 6 run (Stefanou kick), 1:04
COL — FG Stefanou 41, 11:46
COL — Montez 35 run (Stefanou kick), 7:15
First downs 15 26
Rushes-yards 28-151 48-209
Passing 138 268
Comp-Att-Int 17-35-0 23-27-0
Return Yards 32 84
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-67 6-60
Time of Possession 25:13 34:47
RUSHING — UCLA, Kelley 12-124, Allen 2-12, Olorunfunmi 3-9, Felton 1-6, Irby 4-6, Howard 1-3, Jamabo 1-0, Thompson-Robinson 4-(minus 9). Colorado, McMillian 21-102, Montez 11-81, Shenault 5-18, Evans 4-12, MacIntyre 1-4, Bisharat 1-(minus 1), Nixon 2-(minus 2), (Team) 3-(minus 5).
PASSING — UCLA, Thompson-Robinson 17-35-0-138. Colorado, MacIntyre 1-1-0-31, Montez 22-26-0-237.
RECEIVING — UCLA, Felton 3-49, Howard 3-19, Kelley 3-10, C.Wilson 2-13, Philips 2-10, Irby 1-19, Ezeike 1-11, Allen 1-8, Olorunfunmi 1-(minus 1). Colorado, Shenault 12-126, T.Brown 6-77, Evans 1-31, Nixon 1-12, Ento 1-11, MacIntyre 1-10, McMillian 1-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None.