Buffs Hang On To Upset Kansas State 35-31

After building leads of 14-0 and 35-14, the Colorado Buffaloes hung on to upset #13 Kansas State. As always, it wasen't easy. CU needed a pass interference call late in the game to secure the win.

BOULDER, Colo. - He didn't throw well enough, they said, and he was too small to be an effective major-college quarterback.

Robert Hodge had a resounding response to his skeptics Saturday, completing 13 of 20 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns as Colorado beat No. 13 Kansas State 35-31.

"I don't know what people think of me," Hodge said. "I just want to go out there and do what I can for my team to help us win."

Hodge got his first start three weeks ago against Southern California, after Craig Ochs was sidelined by a concussion, and Hodge was dreadful. The Buffs managed only 61 total yards in a 40-3 drubbing.

"I knew I could be a lot better than that," he said. "I wanted to prove to my teammates I could get it done."

Hodge's passing performance on Saturday was the sixth-best ever by a Colorado quarterback.

"I thought Robert played very valiantly," coach Gary Barnett said. "He just keeps getting better. He has improved every game he's played. I've told a number of people that he throws a great deep ball, and he proved it today."

Chris Brown ran for 167 yards and two scores as the Buffaloes held to win the Big 12 opener for both teams.

Colorado (3-2) opened defense of its conference championship with 483 total yards and scoring plays of 94, 85 and 71 yards.

Kansas State (4-1), which had scoring plays of 71 and 80 yards, rallied from a 35-14 deficit early in the third quarter but had to settle for Jared Brite's 35-yard field goal with 2:16 left instead of a tying touchdown.

Wildcats quarterback Ell Roberson, who ran for 178 yards and threw for 83 more, was sacked by defensive tackle Sam Wilder for a 9-yard loss on third down at the Colorado 18 in the waning minutes.

Brite kicked the field goal, but K-State didn't get the ball back. On third down, Hodge's pass fell incomplete, but defensive back James Dunnigan was called for pass interference, giving Colorado a first down with 1:24 remaining.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder didn't second-guess himself on the field goal.

"I thought we had a chance to hold them and get the ball back with good field position and about 1:20 left," he said. "If we didn't get the penalty, we do just that.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't play well enough to win and that we made a lot of basic mistakes. A big one was tackling. Chris Brown deserved every yard he got. He ran through some tackles. But the guy to applaud is the quarterback (Hodge). He did an excellent job of executing their offense and made some excellent throws."

Darren Sproles ran for 121 yards and three scores for the Wildcats.

The Buffaloes scored on their first two possessions en route to a 28-14 halftime lead.

Hodge's 41-yard play-action pass to Derek McCoy set up Brown's 1-yard scoring run. Moments later, freshman tailback Brian Calhoun went in motion and caught a 71-yard scoring pass.

Stymied by early penalties, Kansas State put together a 65-yard scoring drive. Roberson carried on the first seven plays for 64 yards, including a 29-yarder that set up Sproles' 1-yard run.

Roberson then faked to a running back and darted 71 yards for a tying touchdown with 9:53 left in the half.

Colorado countered with two scores late in the half, both on third-down plays from deep in its own territory.

On third-and-2 from the 15, Brown, behind fullback Brandon Drumm's block, broke past the line of scrimmage and outran the defenders on an 85-yard TD run. Four minutes later, Colorado faced a third-and-9 from its 6 when freshman Jeremy Bloom got past cornerback Randy Jordan along the right sideline and completed the 94-yard scoring play. It was the longest pass play in school history.

Colorado fashioned a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the second half for a 35-14 lead. On fourth-and-3 from the KSU 31, Hodge flipped a 9-yard pass to Wilder, who had lined up as an eligible receiver, and he passed 1 yard to Jesse Wallace for the TD.

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