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Buffs Resolve Unflagging In Rout Of Huskies

An emotional Colorado football team pays tribute to Sal Aunese

Story by B.G. Brooks
Rocky Mountain News
(October 1, 1989

SEATTLE --- Colorado, the team its coach said last spring must play with “one heartbeat,” bared its soul yesterday for fallen teammate Sal Aunese.

Coping with Aunese’s death in a hostile stadium where teams generally find coping almost impossible, fifth ranked CU staggered Washington 45-28 to remain unbeaten (4-0) and put the college football world on further notice.

“We could be talking big-time here, fellas,” CU president Gordon Gee said to reporters near game’s end in dank and disbelieving Husky Stadium, where before yesterday, Washington was 66-22-1 in the past 14 years.

Forget that, because the Buffs did.

Their 45 points were the second-highest total scored by a UW opponent in Husky Stadium. In 1929, Southern California beat UW 48-0 here.

Depending of the whims of pollsters, the Buffs might move as high as third - second might be a stretch - this week. The only team ranked ahead of CU to lose was No. 4 Auburn (21-14 to Tennessee). But No. 2 Miami struggled with Michigan State (26-20).

“Right now,” said CU tailback Eric Bieniemy, “I don’t believe we’ll be big-headed. I don’t think we will be big-headed until we win the national championship.”

Big-time, indeed, Mr. President.

The Buffs’ 17 point victory doesn’t begin to address their complete undoing of the No. 21 Huskies, who dropped to 2-2 and now are sure to drop from the nation’s Top 25.

After a herky-jerky start that saw CU quarterback Darian Hagan suffer his second interception of the season on the game’s third play, CU righted itself and hammered at the Huskies. By halftime the Buffs had ground out a 21-6 lead the ballooned to 38-6 after three quarters.

Coach Bill McCartney pulled quarterback Darian Hagan and his first offense with 14:51 to play.

It wasn’t a hasty decision, by then, the Buffs were in their comfort zone. UW outscored CU 22-7 in the final quarter, padding its final statistics (259 yards passing, 110 rushing) but in no way soothing the humiliation of the first three quarters.

“It took (CU) some plays to get started. Then they found out what they wanted to do and got established,” said UW coach Don James.

Obviously, what the Buffs wanted to do was run at the Huskies. Of CU’s 485 yards, 420 were gained rushing. That was the most gained on UW since 1976, when UCLA ran for 451.

The Buffs who open Big Eight Conference play Saturday at Folsom Field against Missouri, got their first two touchdowns on their first two drives of 73 and 76 yards. Both were capped by Bieniemy, who sprinted 35 for the first score and dived 1 yard for the second TD.

Washington’s new one-back, short passing offense had been limited to a pair of field goals (21 and 40 yards) by John McCallum. But with the long TD drives, the Buffs went ahead 14-6 and were off and running.

CU strong safety Bruce Young intercepted Cary Conklin following Bieniemy’s second touchdown, and Hagan passed to wingback Mike Pritchard for a 40-yard gain on the next play. J.J. Flannigan, who shares tailback time with Bieniemy, scored on a 3-yard run three plays later, and the Buffs were up 21-6 with 11 seconds left in the second quarter.

“It’s more than we could - would - have expected,” McCartney said. “It speaks a lot to intensity and resolve of our players. … This exceeded anything that I hoped for.”

The death of Aunese a week earlier and the trauma in the following days made the Buffs’ emotional state the day’s biggest pregame mystery.

“But when we got off the bus,” said defensive tackle Okland Salavea, “there was no doubt in my mind or any-one else’s that we were ready to play.  …I talked to all the players who conforted me this week and told them we can’t let Sal down.”

With a tipped pass, a blocked field goal attempt and three assists on tackles, Salavea did his part.

“A lot of people had counted us out because of everything that went on this week,” said senior linebacker Michael Jones. “But those people don’t know this team. We’re fighters.”

Added senior Jeff Campbell, whose 57-yard TD on a wide receiver reverse gave CU its 38-6 third quarter lead: “You could hear Sal saying, ‘Don’t feel bad for me; just go out and play for me.’”

Make no mistake, the Buffs did.


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