Dunn, Utah seal Colorado’s fate with 100-yard KO
Boulder — Colorado’s hopes for averting its worst season in more than a century were buoyed by Marques Mosley’s game-tying 100-yard kickoff return — for all of 13 seconds.
That’s how long it took Reggie Dunn to return the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for the decisive touchdown as Utah, helped by five takeaways, kept Colorado winless at home this season with a 42-35 victory on Friday.
The Utes (5-7, 3-6 Pac-12) intercepted Colorado QB Nick Hirschman four times. Dunn showed his explosiveness once again the only time that he touched the ball during the game, extending his NCAA record with his fifth career 100-yard kickoff return — and fourth this season.
The Buffaloes (1-11, 1-8 Pac-12) finished with their worst record since the school’s inaugural 0-4 campaign in 1890. They also failed to win a game at home in six tries for the first time since 1920, when they were 0-1-2. It was their first winless campaign ever at Folsom Field, where the Buffaloes have played their home games since 1924.
“This game kind of summarizes this year; close, but still got a ways to go,” said Jon Embree, who fell to 4-21 in his two seasons as Colorado’s coach.
Embree added that a couple of injuries contributed to the breakdown on the kick coverage unit in the immediate aftermath of Mosley’s kick return for a touchdown for Colorado.
“We talked about covering the kick when it was our turn,” Embree said. “We had some guys that were hurt, so we had to put some other guys in there. They got hurt, like, two plays before, so there was a little bit of chaos, but obviously they were able to answer back.”
Tight end John Kasa, one of eight seniors playing their final game for Colorado, said he wouldn’t let the Buffaloes’ dismal season define him.
“What defines me is we fought our butts off to win this game, and I’m going to keep that going in my life,” Kasa said. “The main thing that (we) learned is that hard work will eventually lead to success, and unfortunately, it didn’t here. But I’m not stopping. Neither are any of us.”
The Utes, who hadn’t won on the road all season, outscored Colorado 22-7 down the stretch after third-quarter TD runs of 3 yards by Tony Jones and 5 yards by Donta Abron gave the Buffaloes a 28-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The teams combined for 21 points in a stunning 29-second span:
—Utah quarterback Travis Wilson scored on a 9-yard keeper to break a 28-28 tie with 8:41 remaining.
—Mosley returned the kickoff 100 yards to tie it back up at 35. It was Colorado’s first kickoff return for a score in three years.
—Dunn then extended his NCAA records for most 100-yard kickoff scores in a season (four) and career (five).
“Defense played well, it’s a disappointment that it came down to one small play,” said senior defensive lineman Will Pericak. “That’s the story of our season. I’m happy to be a Buff and proud to be a Buff.”
The Buffaloes got the ball a couple of times after Dunn’s score ,but they turned the ball over on downs and Hirschman’s fourth down pass in the waning seconds was intercepted at midfield by Brian Blechen.
John White ran 20 times for 168 yards and became the first Utah player with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. His score from 11 yards out with 10:50 left pulled Utah to 28-26, and the Utes tied it when Jake Murphy took the direct snap and threw a 2-point jump pass to fellow tight end David Rolf.
Last year, the Buffaloes ended Utah’s division title hopes with a 17-14 win at Salt Lake City.