Colorado pitches shutout in Folsom, 24-0
BOULDER — Colorado football was able to shake off many of the mistakes, criticisms and questions from last week as they dominated Wyoming with a shutout win Saturday. After the 24-0 score became final, the walk for players and coaches along the bleachers to the locker room was completely different from what they experienced two weeks prior. Obscenities, anger and inebriation were replaced with clapping, encouraging words and whistles, especially for the game’s special player, Rodney Stewart.
“Speedy” ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns, carrying the ball extensively. It was a career day for Stewart in rushing attempts, beating his previous high by three with 32. Usually a complementary back for Darrell Scott or Demetrius Summler, Stewart took over this game. Scott was held out for his bruised knee, and Summler had a respectable 41 yards on 8 attempts, but it was the elusiveness of No. 5 that gave Wyoming the most fits. There were several plays that should have been losses from which he was able to escape and make positive yardage.
“He’s funny, he doesn’t need rhythm,” mused coach Dan Hawkins. “He’s a guy that can be stone-cold on the sidelines and you give him the ball and he’s liable to go 80. He’s so doggone powerful, you give him a few pops and he breaks tackles. He’s a lot stronger than guys his size ought to be.”
QB Cody Hawkins played well, completing 17 of 31 attempts for 175 yards. He had no touchdowns but also no interceptions. His favorite target again was Scotty McKnight, who picked up 77 yards on five catches. McKnight also fell on a Summler fumble in the end zone, logging a rushing touchdown without a rushing attempt. Receivers Jason Espinoza and Will Jefferson also had catches, with Jefferson getting his first career reception for nine yards. The remaining passing attack came from a solid mix of backs and tight ends. TE Riar Geer, RB Brian Lockridge, Summler, FB Jake Behrens and Stewart combined for 71 yards.
The real shocker in this game was how well the defense played. After Colorado took the opening drive of the game 69 yards in 90 seconds for its first touchdown, the Buffs forced a three-and-out with a great pass breakup by senior LB Marcus Burton. A fumbled snap gave the ball right back to the Cowboys on the Colorado 18, but the defense came up with a big stand in the red zone, forcing a field goal attempt that went wide. After that, Wyoming didn’t make it past the Colorado 39-yard line until early in the fourth quarter, when it missed another field goal.
Colorado forced Wyoming to punt six consecutive times in the middle of the game and held the spread attack of coach Dave Christensen to 154 passing yards. Christensen was forced to swap his quarterbacks at the start of the second quarter, choosing Austyn Carta-Samuels over Robert Benjamin. Wyoming continued to struggle, however, not converting a third down until the fourth quarter. By then it was too late, and after the second Cowboys missed field goal, third-string QB Karsten Sween was brought in.
While there were no interceptions from the defense, there was a forced fumble, six pass breakups, four sacks with five quarterback hurries, and seven tackles for loss. What can’t be seen on the stat sheet is how the Colorado secondary came in ready to play. Excellent coverage gave the front seven the time they needed for those four sacks. Only one pass play went for more than 30 yards, closing up those problems with big plays.
Asked what “little adjustments” he had to put in for this success, Hawkins replied, “Played less personnel groups, less changes, less calls.” He went on to say how proud he was of Ron Collins and his defensive staff for “hanging in there and keep believing.”
For the first time this year, fans now are happy to see a big ol’ zero. This time it’s on the scoreboard under “visitor.” Hawkins finished his comments with a message directly to the fans:
“I do want to say this, I thought it was awesome for our fans to show up and have over 50,000 in the stands. You know, you’ve got everyone flicking dirt on you (the program), and for those people to show up and be supportive and be enthusiastic and cheer, and hang till the end, I thought that was awesome. We need that, we need to keep doing that. It’s a good place. We all gotta hang together, row in the same direction. You talk about building some loyalty, when you run out there being 0-2 and you see that many people here to support you, that’s big-time.”
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