The Colorado Buffaloes kicked off the home portion of the season with a bang, defeating the New Hampshire Wildcats 45-14, advancing to 3-0 on the season. With the win, the Buffs swept the non-conference portion of their schedule. The atmosphere in Folsom Field resembled a late summer day with temperatures in the low 90s throughout the game.
CU’s defense got off to a hot start on the opening possession of the game when linebacker Rick Gamboa intercepted a Christian Lupoli pass and returned it deep into Wildcats territory. The offense responded promptly with a 28-yard touchdown pass down the seam from Steven Montez to wide receiver Laviska Shenault - who had yet another great game.
Along with the interception, the defense forced back-to-back three-and-out’s on the other two New Hampshire possessions in the first quarter. However, the Buffs struggled to capitalize on the momentum early on. One of their drives was stalled by a costly hand to the face penalty by Jake Moretti, and the UNH defense was able to force a three-and-out of their own on the next.
The offense got into rhythm on their first drive of the second quarter by jump starting the run game. Running back Travon McMillan kicked off the possession by plowing over and stiff arming defenders for a huge 20-yard carry. Later, he put the Buffs up 14-0 on a 1-yard TD run. Seven of the eight plays on the 55 yard scoring drive were runs.
After a missed field goal by Cats kicker Drew Sanborn, receiver Tony Brown made his first big catch as a Buff breaking free down the middle for a 53-yard reception from Montez. Two plays later, Kyle Evans showed off some shiftiness, making a jump cut outside for his first touchdown of the year. The drive represented a momentum shift in the game, and a monumental moment in Montez’s career as he moved into 7th place all time in CU history for passing yards.
Colorado extended their lead to 28-0 when Lupoli fumbled the football and Davion Taylor returned it into the end zone. Dating back to his days at the Junior College level (he didn’t play football in high school), Taylor never scored a touchdown. So when he reached the end zone for the first time, there was some confusion regarding touchdown celebration etiquette.
“When I saw the ball I didn’t know what to do - I picked it up and I saw the endzone, so when I got to the touchdown I didn’t know whether to celebrate, it was all a dream come true,” Taylor said. “I never scored a touchdown before so when it happened, I didn’t even know what to think, I got to the sidelines and everyone was happy and I was just overjoyed myself.”
CU had a chance to effectively put the game away before halftime driving inside the red zone, but Montez threw a pass that was intercepted in the corner of the end zone by Evan Horn.
The pick didn’t prove to be costly as Travon McMillan scored his second touchdown of the day on the first play of the second half. He showed off some explosiveness by breaking away from the UNH defense and dashing 75 yards down the sidelines, effectively putting the game away. The graduate transfer finished the day with 163 yards on the ground.
His rushing totals were the day also happened to be a career high going back to his days at Virginia Tech.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work in the offseason to try and have a really consistent year, so it’s good that I’m having a consistent year and I’m going to keep trying to get better throughout practice each and every day, and remaining humble and keep working,” McMillan said.
At the 10-minute mark of the 3rd quarter, Sam Noyer took over under center. The Wildcats finally got on the scoreboard when Pop Lacey jumped a pass intended for Kabion Ento and took it into the end zone. After a James Stafanou field goal, UNH got their first offensive score of the day on a 71-yard touchdown reception by All-American Neil O’Connor. However, it was too little too late. By the middle of the third quarter, second stringers on both sides of the ball for Colorado got in an on the action.
The Buffs will have a much needed bye week before playing the UCLA Bruins (0-2) in a primetime matchup a week from Friday. While it may seem like a Colorado is sitting in the drivers seat at 3-0, they had the same record at this point last season but went 2-7 in Pac-12 play down the stretch. In order to finish stronger this time around, Coach MacIntyre understands that he needs to keep his team hungry.
“I don’t think they’ll get complacent, so we’re going to go back down the hill (where the team has preseason practice) and practice next week,” MacIntyre said. We’ll get that preseason mentality, we finished our preseason and now we’re starting Pac-12 season. So we’re going to go down there and have a good aggressive practice for three days and then get ready to play UCLA.”