Skip to content

CU Buffs fall to Arizona State in Pac-12 opener

Losing streak hits three as ASU pulls away in second half

TEMPE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Brendon Lewis #12 of the Colorado Buffaloes drops back to pass during the first half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Brendon Lewis #12 of the Colorado Buffaloes drops back to pass during the first half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Several Colorado players slowly limped back to the locker room Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.

Another said his body felt fine but, “I’ve been better, you know?”

Physically and mentally, this has already been a draining season for the Buffaloes, and Saturday night wasn’t any easier. The start of Pac-12 play didn’t provide the fresh start CU had hoped for, as it was routed by host Arizona State, 35-13.

ASU (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) scored 21 consecutive points in the second half to pull away from the Buffs (1-3, 0-1), who found a little bit of success on offense finally, but not nearly enough.

“We’ve got to just keep bringing this team along,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “It’s a lot of young players that are playing and a lot of new players playing and it’s challenging each and every week now that we’re in season. There’s no preseason games. All these games count, unfortunately.”

They count, and the number in the loss column is adding up. CU has lost three in a row – and five of six dating back to last season – and hasn’t shown many signs of being able to turn it around any time soon. Next up is Southern California (2-2, 1-2), which has plenty of its own problems, but a 14-0 all-time record against the Buffs.

“We have to just keep working at getting better each week and hopefully that light bulb starts to glow a little bit brighter for us to be much more productive and score more points and actually do as well as we need to do defensively as well,” Dorrell said. “So we’ll keep plugging at it.”

The light bulb at least flickered a bit on Saturday, relative to what the previous two weeks had been on offense.

On Sept. 18, the Buffs were shut out at home by Minnesota, 30-0, while managing just 63 yards in total offense, including minus-19 on the ground.

After a slow start, including a 14-0 deficit, on Saturday, the Buffs got the offense going a bit.

The Buffs got a 51-yard field goal from Cole Becker just before halftime. That snapped a scoreless streak of 137 minutes, 11 seconds for the Buffs, dating back to the first quarter of the Sept. 11 matchup against Texas A&M.

Then, after receiving the second half kickoff, the Buffs marched 75 yards in eight plays, capped by Alex Fontenot’s 1-yard touchdown run. That cut the deficit to 14-10 and for a brief moment, there was hope.

“At least that was a glimpse of, we talked about it at halftime and they orchestrated and made it work and it happened, so that’s a positive step; a very positive step,” Dorrell said.

Just three minutes later, though, ASU scored on a 17-yard run by Elijhah Badger to make it 21-10. A pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns buried the Buffs.

ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels put the Buffs away with a 15-yard touchdown run with 8:30 to play in the fourth quarter. Daniels finished with 311 yards in total offense and ran for two scores.

CU’s quarterback, meanwhile, showed progress, but it was minimal. Freshman Brendon Lewis completed 7-of-17 passes for 67 yards – his third consecutive sub-100-yard game – while adding 39 yards rushing.

“I thought Brendon played OK,” Dorrell said. “I thought he had a couple steps of progress this week. We need to continue to bring him along – along with our passing game.”

A couple of key drops hurt Lewis and the offense, while crucial penalties on both sides of the ball were a factor, as well.

Those mistakes were only a part of the problem, though, as the Buffs proved once again that they have a long way to go.

“We’re just gonna keep going back to practicing, improving because you could easily get caught up in that we’re losing and we’re not doing as good as we’d like to,” safety Mark Perry said. “We can’t get caught up in that because that’s how you go from losing two to three games to losing a lot more games than that. We don’t want to get into that mindset.”

That’s why the Buffs tried to focus on the positives after another dismal loss. But, Dorrell knows that at some point the positives have to add up to wins.

“Progress doesn’t keep you stable,” he said. “We’re frustrated. We’re all frustrated. (The players) are frustrated, coaches; everybody is, but that’s kind of the nature of the beast. That’s something we signed up for in this profession as coaches and playing college level football. We’ve got to be big men and grow up and try to get some things fixed in a hurry so we can be productive.”

Arizona State 35, Colorado 13

Play of the game: Alex Fontenot’s 1-yard touchdown run with 11:01 to go in the third quarter was CU’s first touchdown in nine quarters and it cut the Buffs’ deficit to 14-10.

Turning point: Just 3 minutes, 2 seconds after Fontenot’s touchdown, ASU reached the end zone and killed the CU momentum. The Sun Devils took a 21-10 lead and never looked back.

Top 3 Buffs of the game

1. RB Alex Fontenot: He ran hard all night, gaining 65 yards and scoring the lone CU touchdown.

2. LB Nate Landman: Yet another double-digit tackle performance for the senior, who had 10 stops.

3. S Mark Perry: Finished with eight tackles and a tackle for loss.

Arizona St. 35, Colorado 13

Colorado 0 3 7 3 — 13
Arizona St. 7 7 7 14 — 35

First Quarter

ASU — Daniels 7 run (Zendejas kick), 7:45.

Second Quarter

ASU — White 11 run (Zendejas kick), 9:28.

COLO — FG Becker 51, :13.

Third Quarter

COLO — Fontenot 1 run (Becker kick), 11:01.

ASU — Badger 17 run (Zendejas kick), 7:53.

Fourth Quarter

ASU — White 30 pass from Pearsall (Zendejas kick), 14:16.

ASU — Daniels 15 run (Zendejas kick), 8:30.

COLO — FG Becker 33, 3:56.

                                  COLO                   ASU
First downs                  18                        24
Total Net Yards           250                      435
Rushes-yards           44-183                33-163
Passing                        67                       272
Punt Returns              1-12                     4-92
Kickoff Returns           3-47                     3-46
Comp-Att-Int              7-18-0                20-27-0
Sacked-Yards Lost      3-15                     0-0
Punts                          6-47.8                4-43.5
Fumbles-Lost               0-0                      1-0
Penalties-Yards           7-55                    7-90
Time of Possession     28:58                 31:02


RUSHING — Colorado, Fontenot 14-65, B.Lewis 10-39, Broussard 12-35, Clayton 7-29, Rice 1-15. Arizona St., Daniels 8-75, White 11-37, Ngata 7-33, Badger 1-17, Bourguet 2-2, Hart 3-1, (Team) 1-(minus 2).

PASSING — Colorado, B.Lewis 7-18-0-67. Arizona St., Daniels 18-25-0-236, Pearsall 1-1-0-30, Bourguet 1-1-0-6.

RECEIVING — Colorado, Stanley 2-16, Rice 2-9, T.Robinson 1-26, Lemonious-Craig 1-9, Broussard 1-7. Arizona St., White 5-70, Bunkley-Shelton 4-76, Wilson 4-70, Hodges 2-38, Pearsall 2-(minus 2), Hatch 1-9, Badger 1-6, Conyers 1-5.

MISSED FIELD GOALS — Colorado, Becker 45.