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Reeling CU Buffs routed by Washington State

Steven Montez struggles again as Buffs drop third straight

Colorado safety Derrion Rakestraw (3) hits Washington State wide receiver Renard Bell (9) breaking up a pass in the first quarter of a Pac-12 Conference game on Saturday afternoon at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.
Colorado safety Derrion Rakestraw (3) hits Washington State wide receiver Renard Bell (9) breaking up a pass in the first quarter of a Pac-12 Conference game on Saturday afternoon at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.

PULLMAN, Wash. – It’s not a seven-game losing streak – yet – but the Colorado Buffaloes’ season is in a nose dive.

Steven Montez struggled for the second week in a row, the defense couldn’t stop anybody (again), and the Buffaloes found Martin Stadium to be just as unfriendly as the past two trips here.

Washington State’s 41-10 rout on cold, rainy Saturday night on the Palouse slapped the Buffs with a third consecutive loss and cemented their place in the Pac-12 South division cellar.

“Obviously, I am hugely disappointed in what happened out there tonight,” said first year head coach Mel Tucker, whose team has been hammered by a combined score of 86-13 the last two weeks.

CU has lost three in a row in Pullman, by a combined score of 96-13.

After exceeding expectations early in the season, the Buffs (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12) they’ve sunk to the all-too-familiar spot at the bottom of the conference and have hardly put up a fight in back-to-back weeks.

Pete Caster/Tribune Staff Photographer
Colorado safety Mikial Onu (2) and linebacker Davion Taylor (20) attempt to catch Washington State running back Max Borghi (21) as he runs through the secondary on Saturday.

Colorado closed last season on a seven-game losing streak. While this skid isn’t quite halfway to that point, the Buffs are looking like a team that will struggle to reverse course. They host Southern California on Friday and while a return to Folsom Field might be good for the Buffs, they are 0-13 all-time against the Trojans.

On a weekend that saw hapless UCLA rout Stanford on the road and perennial doormat Oregon State pull an upset in Berkeley, the Buffs were washed away in a steady rain that didn’t bother the Cougars (4-3, 1-3), who snapped a three-game losing streak with the easy win.

CU could chalk up a bit of a moral victory in holding Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon to only 369 passing yards. That’s the second-lowest total of the season for the nation’s leading passer, but he did complete 35-of-51 passes and four touchdowns.

Wazzu running back Max Borghi, a one-time CU commit and Pomona High School graduate, racked up 162 yards in total offense (105 rushing, 57 receiving) and scored twice.

“He was a good player,” CU’s Davion Taylor said. “He found some gaps and he was just hitting them fast.”

Both of Borghi’s touchdowns came in the first quarter, including a 47-yard run on which he broke several busted tackles and put the Cougars ahead 21-3.

While the Cougars racked up 24 points and 282 yards on offense in the first half, the Buffs six first half possession (not counting a kneel down before intermission) resulted in two Montez interceptions, one punt and three field goal attempts – only one of which was successful.

“To start the game, we weren’t able to get anything going offensively,” Tucker said. “We had some penalties still, turnovers, weren’t able to finish drives. Defensively, it just took us too long to settle down. Early in the game we had missed tackles, we had some missed assignments and cut some guys loose. We weren’t able to get off the field on third down. It was a very disappointing effort, especially in the first half.”

CU had a brief moment of hope after Laviska Shenault scored on a 6-yard run out of the wildcat formation. That pulled the Buffs within 24-10 with 5:06 to go in the third.

“I didn’t even know how much time we had left on the clock, but we just have to capitalize on any chances we get, honestly,” said Shenault, who caught four passes for 46 yards and added 16 rushing yards.

Whatever momentum the Buffs might have got from the Shenault touchdown quickly disappeared. The Cougars needed just seven plays to go 81 yards and score another touchdown. After a CU punt, the Cougars marched down the field and scored again to make it 38-10.

Just two weeks ago, the Buffs came within a couple of plays of knocking off Arizona and taking sole possession of first place in the South. They coughed up opportunities in that 35-30 loss, however, and have looked almost lifeless in the last two outings.

“You know what? It’s tough,” Tucker said. “We’re being tested. I told them in the locker room, ‘We’re going to test you as a coaching staff and you’re going to be tested. And if it doesn’t hurt you, if it doesn’t rip your guts out, then there is something wrong about that.’ There is no way to sugar coat it.”

Washington State 41, Colorado 10

Play of the game: For the Buffs, the top play was the only touchdown they’ve scored in the last nine quarters, a 6-yard run by Laviska Shenault in the third quarter.

Turning point: It came early, as WSU scored its first touchdown with 8:42 to play in the first quarter, picked off a Steven Montez pass two plays later, and then scored another touchdown three plays after that.

Top 3 Buffs of the game

1. RB Alex Fontenot: Rushed for 105 yards on 11 carries, averaging 9.5 yards per rush.

2. LB Davion Taylor: Led the team with 11 tackles, including two for loss.

3. LB Nate Landman: Credited with seven tackles, one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.

Washington St. 41, Colorado 10
Colorado 3 0 7 0 — 10
Washington St. 21 3 7 10 — 41
First Quarter
WST – Borghi 4 pass from Gordon (Mazza kick), 8:42
WST – Patmon 22 pass from Gordon (Mazza kick), 6:53
COL – FG Stefanou 24, 2:15
WST – Borghi 47 run (Mazza kick), :22
Second Quarter
WST – FG Mazza 20, :05
Third Quarter
COL – L.Shenault 6 run (Stefanou kick), 5:06
WST – Arconado 44 pass from Gordon (Mazza kick), 2:16
Fourth Quarter
WST – D.Martin 1 pass from Gordon (Mazza kick), 11:31
WST – FG Mazza 36, 7:28

First downs 18 22
Rushes-yards 36-179 20-128
Passing 141 369
Comp-Att-Int 17-34-3 35-53-1
Return Yards 53 21
Punts-Avg. 6-42.5 4-44.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 7-55 7-70
Time of Possession 30:55 29:05
RUSHING – Colorado, Fontenot 11-105, Mangham 8-42, L.Shenault 3-16, To.Brown 2-14, J.Davis 4-13, (Team) 1-(minus 1), D.Smith 4-(minus 1), Montez 3-(minus 9). Washington St., Borghi 12-105, McIntosh 4-27, Markoff 1-1, Valencia 0-0, Gordon 3-(minus 5).
PASSING – Colorado, Montez 16-30-2-129, T.Lytle 0-1-0-0, Stenstrom 1-3-1-12. Washington St., Gordon 35-51-1-369, Tinsley 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING – Colorado, L.Shenault 4-46, Nixon 3-38, To.Brown 3-22, Russell 3-20, Fontenot 2-5, J.Jackson 1-12, M.Bell 1-(minus 2). Washington St., Borghi 9-57, Arconado 5-109, Winston 5-82, T.Harris 4-42, R.Bell 4-32, Patmon 3-32, D.Martin 3-(minus 6), Fisher 2-21.
MISSED FIELD GOALS – Colorado, Stefanou 48, Stefanou 52.