The sting of Colorado’s first loss of the season was made worse by the ugly injury to safety Aaron Maddox.
On the penultimate play of the third quarter of Air Force’s 30-23 overtime win on Saturday at Folsom Field, Maddox chased a Falcons runner out of bounds. He went down and crashed into a misting machine on the Air Force sideline.
Maddox suffered a nasty laceration to his lower left leg and he was eventually carted off the field. The sight of the blood and the rush of trainers and doctors to his side led some to fear a broken leg, but CU said it hopes to have Maddox back on the field in four or five weeks.
Shortly after the game, CU head coach Mel Tucker and players weren’t aware of the severity of the injury, but some players were emotional about it.
“I’m sick for him, knowing what he’s been through and knowing how hard he works every single day,” fellow safety Mikial Onu said. “You hate to see it happen to a guy like that that loves football that much, that cares about his team that much, that cares about the game that much. I’m even more sick because we couldn’t get the win for him. I pray for a speedy recovery. I love that kid. I know what he can do when he’s healthy and I know he’ll come back stronger and better than ever.”
Maddox has started all three games for the Buffs. He had eight tackles and a forced fumble on Saturday before the injury.
Late game decision
After Laviska Shenault scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds left in regulation, CU could have gone for the win with a two-point conversion, but elected to tie the game with a kick.
“There was no thought of (going for two),” Tucker said. “I felt like we were actually playing pretty good on defense, we were playing good on offense.”
CU was unable to continue the momentum in overtime, however.
Struggles up front
In the trenches, the Buffs had a long day against the Falcons. On offense, in particular, it was a struggle.
CU made changes at both guard spots during the game, replacing Colby Pursell with Casey Roddick at right guard and replacing Kary Kutsch with Chance Lytle at left guard.
Starting tight end Brady Russell also had a tough day. After playing nearly every snap the first two games, he was taken out in favor of Jalen Harris for a good chunk of the game.
“I don’t think it was really a matter of what Air Force was doing,” Russell said. “I think it was more on us and our mental errors and our stupid penalties we had on the field. It was more so ourselves stopping us more than Air Force stopping us. Especially me.”
With Air Force dominating up front, CU rushed for just 17 yards on 13 carries in the first half. In the second half, however, they ran for 88 yards on 19 carries.
This was the first time in CU history that it played overtime in back-to-back games. The Buffs are 7-9 all-time in overtime. … CU had won 13 consecutive nonconference games played in-state before Saturday. … Air Force snapped a six-game losing streak to Power 5 conference teams, dating back to the 2010 Independence Bowl. … The Falcons faced a double-digit deficit for the 26th time in its last 53 games, dating to the start of the 2015 season. They are now 8-18 in those games. … The two teams had not played since 1974, but Air Force’s wait for a win was even longer. The Falcons ended a five-game losing streak to CU, beating the Buffs for the first time since 1968. … Shenault moved up to 15th on CU’s all-time list for catches, with 109.