TUCSON, Ariz. – The altitude didn’t have much effect on running back Ka’Deem Carey or quarterback B.J. Denker as they continued their dominance of Colorado with a 44-20 win in Boulder on Saturday.
In his past two games against the Buffaloes, Carey has rushed for a combined 485 yards and nine touchdowns. Denker has had a similar history, combining for 401 passing yards, 236 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
On the day, Carey finished with 119 yards and four touchdowns, including 97 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries in the first half alone. The game brought his season touchdowns total up to 10 and his per game distance to 133.5 ypg.
Denker got in on the fun, too, running for 192 yards to complement his 21-of-32 passing for 265 yards and one touchdown.
Colorado freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau led the Buffs in his first Pac-12 start, going 17-of-32 for 212 yards and one touchdown through the air. Most of those yards went to junior receiver Paul Richardson who had seven receptions for 132 yards and a score.
Denker started strong in the opening drive, completing all five of his pass attempts, one of which included an acrobatic catch by David Richards who stretched his feet inbounds for a 25-yard connection. A pair of quarterback keepers by Denker got the Cats to the goal line, where Carey scored on a one-yard touchdown to complete the 88-yard drive.
Colorado only needed one play to respond, as Liufau hit Richardson on a 75-yard bomb to even the score at seven apiece. Offensively, Arizona was able to pick up where it left off, and reclaimed the lead with a 37-yard Jake Smith field goal.
Arizona got the ball back after a third-down stop by their SWAT defense, and wasted no time moving the chains as Denker hit receiver Garic Wharton for a 29-yard gain. The drive abruptly ended though, as Colorado’s Jered Bell forced a fumble from Wharton off a pass in the flats which was recovered by Woods Greer III.
The Buffaloes used the momentum to their advantage, as Will Oliver nailed a 53-yard field goal to even the score at 10. After a series of punts, Oliver had another opportunity from beyond 50, but missed his 52-yard attempt that would have given Colorado the lead.
Arizona gave the ball back as soon as they got it, this time on a Denker interception by Bell, getting him his second forced turnover on the game. Colorado gained the lead shortly after on a 48-yard field goal from Oliver, putting the Buffs up 13-10.
Facing a third-and-5, Denker kept the next drive alive on a 25-yard lob pass to Samajie Grant, who made the catch despite being hit before reeling it in. On the next set of downs, Denker converted yet another third down, going five yards on a keeper. He then connected with Terrence Miller on 22-yard completion en route to a seven-yard touchdown run for Carey to give the Wildcats the edge, 17-13.
After holding Colorado to a three-and-out, Arizona got the ball back with 1:17 to go in the first half. Carey immediately took the ball 30 yards into Buffalo territory. On the following play, Denker placed the ball perfectly into receiver Nate Phillips' outstretched hands for a 44-yard touchdown connection. The unanswered 14 points by Arizona gave them the lead going into the half, 24-13.
Arizona didn’t skip a beat to begin third quarter, as Denker ran 54 yards to set up a first-and-goal. The Colorado defense held though, and Smith made a field goal from 26 yards out to give the Cats a two-touchdown lead, 27-13.
Colorado closed in on their next drive, as they ran the ball down the field and capitalized via a one-yard touchdown run by Mika Adkins to bring the score to 27-20.
On their next drive, Arizona faced a fourth-and-two when head coach Rich Rodriguez decided to go for it. Miller caught a 43-yard pass from Denker on the down, taking the Cats to the one-yard line. Carey rushed for his third touchdown the following play, extending the lead to 34-20.
Colorado opened the fourth quarter with some trickery on a fake punt attempt but junior receiver Trevor Ermisch sniffed it out from the start and gave the Wildcats the ball at the Colorado 18-yard line after the turnover on downs. Carey wasted no time getting back to the end zone, rushing twice for 18 yards to get his fourth touchdown to put the Cats up 41-20.
The Buffaloes couldn’t stop Arizona’s momentum on the following drive either, as a Liufau pass was intercepted by sophomore safety William Parks and returned 19 yards to the Arizona 25. Senior running back Daniel Jenkins brought Arizona back into Buffalo territory with a 56-yard run and Smith made a 28-yard field goal to extend the lead, 44-20.
The score would stand as the final, as Arizona gets the win to move to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12. Colorado fell in the standings, with a record of 3-4 overall and 0-4 in the Pac-12.
Next on the docket for the Wildcats is a trip to Berkeley on Nov. 2 to take on California for a 12:30 p.m. MST kickoff. The game will be televised by Pac-12 Networks.
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