Colorado overcomes slow start to beat Hawaii, 31-13
AP Sports Writer
BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado coach Dan Hawkins’ hyped-up head-butt before kickoff left him with a bloody nose. His team’s second-half smackdown of Hawaii allowed him to breathe a sigh of relief.
Rodney Stewart rushed for two touchdowns and Tyler Hansen hooked up with Toney Clemons on a 73-yard touchdown toss as Colorado overcame a sluggish start Saturday to beat Hawaii 31-13.
Hawkins didn’t go into detail but several players said he head-butted a player who had his helmet on in a pregame prep talk.
“We got a little hyped before the game,” Hawkins said. “But I’m an old fullback. I’m used to playing with a bloody nose.”
The Buffaloes (2-1) trailed 10-0 at halftime and were booed off the field by the frustrated fans at Folsom Field. A loss in their home opener to Hawaii (1-2) on the heels of their 52-7 debacle at Cal a week earlier and surely the calls would have intensified for the firing of Hawkins, the embattled fifth-year coach.
Instead, the Buffs came out in the no-huddle and quickly turned things around.
“Once they got a little mojo going, they were rolling,” Hawkins said.
And the Warriors were wheezing.
“They got gassed,” receiver Scotty McKnight said, suggesting the Buffs should use more of the no-huddle to capitalize on their altitude acclimation.
Hawkins, who is 18-34 since arriving in 2006 from Boise State, where he was 53-11, said he held no illusions that this win would curb the criticism of his coaching or his program.
“No. Got to keep moving forward,” he said.
McKnight said the Buffs’ play in the second half “shows if we do what the coaches tell us to do, we can be explosive on offense and great on defense. (We have) full confidence in this coaching staff and we all want to go out there and show that.
“These guys know what they’re doing, so if we keep winning, people are going to understand that.”
They have two weeks to prepare for the Georgia Bulldogs’ visit on Oct. 2.
Stewart scored on runs of 7 and 2 yards sandwiched around a safety as the Buffs surged ahead 17-10 in the third quarter. Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz barely got the ball off to beat the blitz but running back Alex Green was tackled in the end zone by defensive back Anthony Perkins.
After Scott Enos’ 32-yard field goal brought Hawaii to 17-13, Hansen ducked the pass rush and found Clemons alone on the right sideline for the long touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we could have come back until that play,” Warriors coach Greg McMackin said.
In the closing minutes, Clemons’ tipped pass came down in McKnight’s hands for a 21-yard touchdown.
“I understand why it happens: it’s good karma,” McKnight cracked.
Stewart finished with 106 yards on 22 carries, and Brian Lockridge added 109 yards on 14 carries, marking the first time since 2002 that the Buffs had two 100-yard rushers in a game.
“I think we’ve taken a lot of criticism that we’ve earned,” right guard Ryan Miller said of the Buffs’ inconsistent offensive line. “But then we came out and we ran the ball. So, sorry, haters.”
The Warriors led 10-0 at halftime and it could have been 24-0.
Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith chased down Hawaii big-play receiver Kealoha Pilares (six catches, 117 yards) at the 3 after an 80-yard gain, and Perkins recovered a fumbled snap on fourth-and-goal inside the 1.
The Warriors got the ball at the Buffs’ 3 again when Paul Richardson muffed a punt and Po’okela Ahmad recovered for Hawaii. Again, the Buffs held and Enos missed a 20-yard field goal.
“We put points on the board one of those times, it would have been a whole different ball game,” Moniz said.
After Jeramy Bryant recovered Stewart’s fumble at midfield, Moniz found Pilares alone on the right side for a 7-yard TD and Enos nailed a 31-yarder as the first half expired.