The Colorado Buffaloes scored its evasive first Pac-12 Conference victory of 2017 on Saturday, prevailing over the Oregon State Beavers on the road in Corvallis, 36-33. It was a game that came down to the final minute.
“[This win] is a little bit of a relief because of the way we lost the last two weeks,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “Thank goodness we won this one. We’ll enjoy this on the flight tonight.”
The Buffs surrendered 569 yards of total offense to the Beavers and trailed at halftime, but 15 points in the fourth quarter elevated Colorado to the win.
“This was a very important game that we needed to come up here and win on the road,” sophomore quarterback Steven Montez said after the game.
Montez, whose day might be sufficiently categorized as erratic, finished the day with 168 yards through the air and completed 14-of-24 passes. He also threw two touchdowns and was on the receiving end of another.
The yin to Montez’s yang was senior wide receiver Bryce Bobo, who caught both of Montez’s touchdown passes and served as quarterback on the score that Montez caught. Bobo finished the day with a team-high nine receptions for 126 yards.
Early on, Colorado seemed poised to suffer its fourth straight Pac-12 loss. The Buffs’ first drive saw them lose one yard. Those who blinked when CU’s offense took the field may have very well missed the drive entirely.
The Beavers got right to work after the Buffs punted, scoring a touchdown courtesy of tailback Ryan Nall to cap a 10-play, 60-yard opening possession.
Nall punished Colorado’s defense on Saturday, chalking up 172 yards on 24 carries during the game while finding the endzone three times.
But the Buffs answered back immediately, as senior tailback Phillip Lindsay exploited an open hole and burst through Oregon State’s defense en route to a 74-yard touchdown run.
What turned out to be the Buffaloes’ savior was the Beavers’ inability to score touchdowns after making it into the redzone. If any one of OSU’s four field goals would have been touchdowns, the Buffs most likely would still have a zero in the conference wins department.
With the game tied 7-7, the Beavers failed to score a touchdown on three consecutive trips to the red zone. Instead of a commanding lead, Oregon State managed just a nine-point lead as the Buffs trailed 16-7 in the second quarter.
On Colorado’s ensuing drive, the Buffs switched gears and called a trick play.
Montez took the snap from the 11-yard line, pitched the ball right to Lindsay, who then tossed it to Bobo who came sweeping into the backfield from the line of scrimmage. Montez, who sold the play beautifully, sneaked out to the far left side of the field and caught a pass from Bobo for the score.
The play built off a 38-yard connection between the two earlier in the drive that put CU at the Beavers’ 16-yard line.
“I just floated [the ball] up and [Montez] caught it,” Bobo said after the win. “[It was] a big-time play.”
Oregon State managed another field goal before the end of the quarter, as the Beavers took a 19-14 lead heading into halftime.
Colorado got a break on OSU’s first drive of the second half, as junior defensive back Evan Worthington, who led the team with 12 tackles, picked off the Beavers’ Darell Garretson at CU’s 11-yard line.
The Buffs capitalized, with Lindsay finding the endzone from nine yards out. This gave Colorado its first lead of the game, 21-19.
The Buffs and Beavers traded punts before Oregon State retook the lead early in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 13-yard touchdown run from Nall.
The fourth quarter was a thriller, with Colorado and the Beavers repeatedly stealing the lead.
The Buffs embarked on a critical (and lengthy) drive as the fourth quarter began. After 18 plays and 88 yards, the Buffaloes scored a much-needed touchdown on another pass to Bobo, taking close to seven minutes off the clock in the process.
But Colorado’s 29-26 lead was erased on the Beavers’ next drive. Nall contributed 65 of OSU’s 84 yards during the sequence and found the endzone again.
The Buffaloes managed to answer back with Bobo scoring his final touchdown of the day on a 13-yard reception. Up 36-33, and with just 1:30 left in the game, the Beavers started their final drive of the game and came very close to at least tying things up.
Oregon State managed just 36 yards on 12 plays during the drive, but Garretson managed to convert back-to-back 3rd-and-10s before the Beavers stalled out at Colorado’s 34-yard line. OSU kicker Jordan Choukair tried a 52-yard field goal, but was short.
“[The Beavers] were fired up … they wanted to come out and play and we got their best game of the year,” senior linebacker Derek McCartney said after the win.
Up next for Colorado is another road contest, this time in Pullman, Washington, against the No. 8 Washington State Cougars. The Buffs and Cougs will kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 8:45 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.