BOULDER California quarterback Zach Maynard hit receiver Keenan Allen with a 5-yard touchdown pass in overtime Saturday at Folsom Field, giving the Bears a 36-33 victory over Colorado and keeping the Buffaloes winless in the Jon Embree Era.
CU got a record setting passing performance from senior quarterback Tyler Hansen, who completed 28-of-49 passes for a school-record 474 yards and three touchdowns. Two of the scoring tosses went to sophomore Paul Richardson, who finished with 11 catches for 282 yards also a single-game school record.
Hansen also accounted for a school-record 500 yards in total offense, and freshman placement specialist Will Oliver was perfect on four field goal attempts. Still, the Buffs came up short against the team that buried them 52-7 last year in Berkeley.
The contest matched Pac-12 Conference teams but will not count in the league standings. Cal, which was 1-4 on the road last season, remained unbeaten at 2-0, while CU fell to 0-2.
The Buffs stay in state for Game 3, travelling to Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High to play unbeaten (2-0) in-state rival Colorado State next Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
If CU fans were waiting for their team’s offense to find a higher gear, they didn’t see it in Saturday’s first half.
The Buffs trailed 16-6 at intermission, settling for a pair of Oliver field goals for points on two of three red zone trips. Oliver’s kicks covered 27 and 52 yards the longer of the pair setting a CU freshmen record and breaking the old mark by one yard.
Oliver’s first field goal was set up by a Jon Major interception the first of the junior linebacker’s career and gave the Buffs a first down at their own 40-yard line.
Six plays later, Oliver made his first kick, giving CU its only lead of the half, 3-0.
But had the Buffs succeeded on their first offensive possession, their advantage would have been more. After holding the Bears to a three-and-out on the game’s first series, the Buffs used a methodical 13-play march and ended up at the Bears’ 9-yard line.
Facing fourth-and-one there, Embree & Co. elected to go for the first down rather than summoning Oliver. Tailback Rodney “Speedy” Stewart was stuffed for no gain.
After Major’s pick and Oliver’s kick, Cal drove 81 yards in 10 plays, and aided by a pair of CU pass interference penalties, scored on a 2-yard Maynard-to-Nico Dumont pass. Giorgio Tavecchio’s PAT attempt was blocked by defensive tackle Will Pericak, but the Bears still led 6-3.
Two series later, a 39-yard Tavecchio field goal pushed Cal ahead 9-3, but CU responded with Oliver’s 52-yard kick and pulled to 9-6 with 4:18 left before halftime.
That was enough time for the Bears to drive 62 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 7-yard Maynard-to-Anthony Miller pass. Tavecchio’s PAT put the punchless Buffs in a 16-6 hole with 1:13 left before intermission.
CU out gained Cal 240-204 in total offense in the first half, but nine penalties for 68 yards stymied much of the Buffs’ progress. Hansen completed 14 of his 25 first-half pass attempts for 198 yards, and Richardson made five receptions for 96 yards before intermission.
Other than Hansen finding Richardson, the Buffs’ most effective offensive plays in the first half were Hansen finding Stewart on screen passes. Five of them accounted for 65 yards, and Stewart added 42 yards rushing.
But CU’s was losing power in the red zone, and when the Buffs received the second-half kickoff they could only hope that power was about to be restored.
And in their opening series of the last half, it was.
Hansen immediately directed a 10-play, 80-yard scoring, hitting senior tight end Ryan Deehan with a 37-yard scoring pass on third-and-eight. With Oliver’s extra point, the Buffs had cut their deficit to three (16-13).
Momentum was with CU, but it quickly shifted. A good series by the Buffs defense was negated by a roughing-the-punter penalty, giving the Bears another set of downs.
Didn’t matter . . . the CU defense held again, forcing a third-and-21 for Cal and another punt. This one sailed into the Buffs end zone, bringing Hansen and his offense back for another start at the 20.
This time, it didn’t go so well.
Cal forced a CU punt and appeared to rough kicker Darragh O’Neill, although no penalty was called because the ball was ruled to have been tipped. It traveled only 15 yards, positioning the Bears at the Buffs’ 35-yard line.
Four plays later, Maynard and Miller again connected for a TD, the pass this time covering 20 yards. After Miller carried the ball and CU linebacker Patrick Mahnke the final 5 yards into the end zone, Tavecchio booted the Bears in front 23-13.
On the Buffs’ next possession, Stewart drew a personal foul on a late hit after catching a third-down screen for negative yardage. It kept CU’s drive intact and Hansen and Richardson made Cal pay, teaming for a 66-yard scoring play it was mostly ‘P-Rich’ and drawing back to within three (23-20) after Oliver’s PAT.
The third quarter ended that way, and the Buffs still were in position to earn their first win for Embree if they could win the final quarter. And the Hansen-Richardson combo got them off to the right start.
Richardson, a 6-1, 175-pound sophomore who also returns kicks, was shaken up on Cal’s final punt of the third quarter. He was assisted off the field, but when CU lined up on its next offensive series, Richardson was on the field.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Richardson caught a quick slant across the middle and outraced the Bears’ safeties for a 78-yard score. With Oliver’s PAT, the Buffs had their first lead (27-23) since 3-0.
But plenty of time remained (14:48) for Cal to answer and the Bears did so quickly, driving 80 yards in 11 plays and scoring on a 19-yard burst up the middle by tailback C.J. Anderson. Tavecchio’s extra point put Cal back in front 30-27 with 9:55 left in the game.
It was the Buffs’ turn to respond, but they were unresponsive. After forcing a punt, Cal took over on its 29-yard line with 8:13 to play. CU desperately needed to get Hansen & Co. back on the field without yielding any more points.
The Buffs’ ‘D’ did it, but the ‘O’ wasn’t put in optimum field position. Stewart’s fair catch of the Bears’ punt gave CU a first down at its own 15 with 7:10 to play. Hansen needed to at least position Oliver for a tying field goal attempt and he exactly that.
He drove the Buffs to the Bears’ 14 before a pair of penalties pushed CU back to the 29. A Hansen-to-Deehan pass recouped 15 of those yards, and on fourth-and-11 from the 15, Oliver drilled a 32-yard field goal to tie the game at 30-30 with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Cal was content to go into overtime and won the coin toss to start it. The Bears put the Buffs on offense at their 25. Five plays later four of them Stewart runs that put CU at the Cal 5 Oliver hit a 22-yard field goal and CU led 33-30.
Cal’s turn . . . and the Bears turned it into a ‘W.’ Consecutive penalties put them in almost impossible first-and-30 at their 35-yard line, but they converted a 32-yard pass from Maynard to Allen to the CU 3. Two plays later, the same Cal combo won it.