Buffs get run game going against CSU

For the first time this season, the Colorado Buffaloes generated a solid rushing attack, led by senior Rodney Stewart.

DENVER -- For a team that is intent on building an identity as a running team, the Colorado Buffaloes didn't look too good running the ball the first two weeks.

Saturday was more like what the Buffs had in mind.

Rodney "Speedy" Stewart ran for 98 yards, Tony Jones provided a spark off the bench and CU finished with 145 rushing yards in a 28-14 win over Colorado State at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

"We blocked our assignments correctly," right guard Ryan Miller said in explaining the difference. "We knew it was going to click and today it finally did."

Colorado had just 125 yards (62.5 per game) on the ground coming into Saturday's game.

Stewart netted his season high, which included five runs of at least 11 yards. Jones got his first collegiate carries, with 23 yards on six attempts.

"The guys up front did a great job getting after them and Speedy did a great job finding the hole," quarterback Tyler Hansen said. "Tony Jones was a big surprise, too. He's always been there, we just haven't gotten him the reps he needed. I think he'll get more playing time as the season progresses."

Overall, Saturday was Stewart's best game. In addition to his 98 rushing yards, he had 93 receiving yards on seven catches. Through three games, Stewart has 18 catches for 277 yards. He had a career-high 290 receiving yards in 2010 (on 29 catches).

BREAKING THROUGH: Colorado finally scored a rushing touchdown.

Hansen's 2-yard touchdown run during the second quarter was the Buffs' first rushing touchdown in 15 quarters -- dating back to the third quarter against Kansas State in 2010, when Stewart ran in from 51 yards out.

Hansen added a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

CU has not had a running back cross the goal line in 17 quarters, since Stewart's TD against Kansas State.

SEALING THE DEAL: Holding a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Buffs needed a momentum-shifting drive.

They got it, as Hansen marched them 85 yards down the field in 16 plays. His 2-yard touchdown run capped an impressive drive that chewed up 10 minutes, 3 seconds off the clock.

"We finally had an opportunity where we had the ball, we had the lead and it was up to us to finish it off," head coach Jon Embree said. "The thing I am proud about with these guys is I think we had two holding penalties in that (final) drive, and yet we still found a way to overcome ourselves."

That drive left just 75 seconds on the clock for the Rams, who couldn't get past the CU 42.

CATCHING A BREAK: Late in the first half, CU was forced to punt, and the kick was blocked by CSU's Joe McKay.

The Buffs caught a break, however, when the ball deflected off a Rams player. That made it a live ball, which CU's Ryan Deehan recovered.

CU took advantage of the opportunity to march down the field for a go-ahead touchdown just before halftime.

"That was a game-changer," receiver Toney Clemons said of the punt play. "That was the play of the game. We needed it. That momentum was huge for us and it carried the whole way through halftime and the end of the game."

TACKLES: Alex Lewis (left) and Sione Tau (right) got the start at the offensive tackle spots. For both players, it was the first start of their careers.

Tau, a fifth-year senior, had never played an offensive snap until Week 2 against Cal. Lewis, a true freshman from Tempe, Ariz., played one snap -- his first -- against Cal.

Lewis became just the second true freshman in CU history to start at tackle, joining current Buffs right guard Ryan Miller. Lewis is the first true freshman to ever start at left tackle.

Lewis was replaced during the first half, however, as junior Ryan Dannewitz took his spot and played the rest of the game.

GETTING A CHANCE: Looking for a spark on kickoff returns, the Buffs turned to true freshman Kyle Washington. He returned two kickoffs for 35 yards.

"It felt good. It felt comfortable," he said. "I did it all through high school and was an all-state returner, so it wasn't too new. It was a little faster."

Washington hopes the move is a permanent one.

"I'm going to try to get some swagger back there and just look for a little more each play," he said.

EMPTY SEATS: Nearly 20,000 seats went unused Saturday.

The official attendance was 57,186 -- the lowest number in the 11 games CU and CSU have played in Denver. The previous low was 60,989 in 2010.

CU had an allotment of 38,300 seats and sold all but 386 of them.

INJURIES: David Goldberg (lower leg) left the game and did not return. He left the stadium on crutches but vowed to be back next week at Ohio State.

Center Daniel Munyer (ankle) was injured early in the fourth quarter and replaced by Gus Handler.

Cornerback Travis Sandersfeld missed the game with a broken bone in his foot. Sandersfeld was injured in practice on Wednesday and is expected to miss several weeks. He said after the game he's not sure how long he'll be out.

EXTRA POINTS: CU was out-gained 95-10 in the first quarter. From that point, however the Buffs had 350 yards in offense to just 148 for Colorado State. ... The Buffs were successful on eight of 15 third-downs, after going 8-for-29 the first two games combined. CSU was 5-for-19 on third down. ... CU senior receiver Kyle Cefalo scored the first touchdown of his college career. It was also the first receiving touchdown of Cefalo's life. His last touchdown came on a run during high school. ... Lineman Paulay Asiata and receiver Makiri Pugh got on the field for the first time as Buffs.

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