After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter to the Colorado State Rams (1-2, 0-0 Mountain West), the Colorado Buffaloes (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) rallied in this year's edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown. A couple huge turnaround touchdowns thrown from quarterback Sefo Liufau to wide receivers Shay Fields and Devin Ross helped bring the Buffs back to life. It was kicker Diego Gonzalez that secured the 27-24 win in overtime after nailing a 32-yard field goal after earlier missing one in regulation.
Momentum shifted between both teams throughout the entirety of the game before CU's defense came up big again. After holding CSU to a single Wyatt Bryant field goal with four attempts, the game was tied at 17 a piece in the middle of the third quarter. Linebacker Kenneth Olugbode intercepted a pass and returned it 60 yards down the Rams' sideline for a touchdown, giving the Buffs a 24-17 lead with 8:50 left in the fourth quarter. The Rams would come back to tie the game at 24 all, following a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Jasen Oden. The Buffs had two chances with 4:29 left in the game to pull it out in regulation, but couldn't manage to put points on the board before time expired.
Gonzalez missed what would have been a game-winning 42-yard field goal field goal with 0:02 left. After missing one field goal and having another blocked by CSU's defense, Coach Mike MacIntyre wasn't shaken and trusted the junior kicker in overtime.
"That was the only one he missed and when you see him kick in practice, he gets great lift", MacIntyre said. "He's doesn't let anything really bother him, so I knew he would be able to bounce back."
The biggest moment in Gonzalez's career couldn't have come at a more opportune time. In front of 66,253 screaming fans, he got to share the moment not only with the CU faithful, but his family who drove up from Monterrey, Mexico to see the amazing finish.
"It's an amazing feeling, it's my first game winner and I'm really happy with the coaches trusting me a second time," Gonzalez said about the overtime winner. " It's really fun kicking the game winner, especially if your family is here and especially in this rivalry game."
The Buffs defense had a tremendous hand the outcome of the game. Many stops along with great techniques helped to secure the win. Defensive back Ken Crawley played an outstanding game against the Rams' wideouts. He finished the game with one interception and the potential for a couple more. Being matched up against CSU wide receiver Rashard Higgins is no easy task. The playmaker led the NCAA in receiving yards and touchdowns last season. MacIntyre was pleased by how Crawley has made progress from week to week and the way the matched up against Higgins.
"Corner is a tough place to play and he played against a good player tonight. He had a penalty early and kept playing, almost had two picks and should of had three picks."
Crawley had a statement pass break up in the third quarter against Higgins by almost ripping the ball right from the receiver's hands.
In overtime, the Buffs forced the Rams to attempt a 27-yard Bryant field goal that was blocked by defensive back Tedric Thompson. It set the Buffs up with the ball only needing three points for the win. After it was all said and done, the players celebrated with the fans and huddled around the Centennial Cup. It was good to see an excited group of players and coaches alike celebrating a hard fought victory. It was even better to see Athletic Director Rick George out of the field along with chancellor Phil Distefano being excited for the players. A feeling of this magnitude hasn't been felt by the Buffs in quite some time.
Overall, the Buffs did some unpredictable things against the Rams. The offensive line as a whole protected Liufau and didn't allow a sack for the second consecutive week. The Buffs quarterback also turned in his second game without throwing an interception and hasn't turned the ball over in the last 10 quarters of play. Liufau out performed CSU quarterback Nick Stevens, who finished the game with 282 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
"Anytime you lose it definitely hurts, especially in overtime and especially in a rivalry game," Stevens said about the loss. "Everyone on the field fought for the entire 60 minutes and the overtime period."
Liufau finished 15-29, with 220 yards and two touchdowns. The offense held together after watching running backs Phillip Lindsay and Patrick Carr leave the game early due to injury. Christian Powell took the major of snaps in the second half. MacIntyre hasn't set a timetable on the return for either back.
The 14-point deficit that CU overcame was the largest margin in the Rocky Mountain Showdown and the eight largest in school history. It was also the sixth time with MacIntyre at the helm that the Buffs didn't have a turnover in a game. Colorado plays host to Nicholls State next Saturday at Folsom to wrap up their non-conference schedule. The Fighting Colonels are getting paid $425,000 to bring a 19-game losing streak into Boulder after losing 20-10 against Incarnate Word. It should be another win before facing Oregon the following week, but nothing is guarantee .