7:45 PM ET, August 30, 2003
DENVER (AP) -- Joel Klatt calmed his teammates in the huddle, then led them to the winning score in just 70 seconds.
Not bad for his first start.
Klatt threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns and set up Bobby Purify's 9-yard run with 40 seconds left as Colorado beat No. 23 Colorado State 42-35 Saturday night.
"We knew we had a lot of time left," Klatt said. "You've just got to stay calm and not go out of control in those situations. I think our guys did that."
Klatt spent three years playing minor league baseball and had attempted one pass in his career before Saturday. He played like he had been there all along.
Klatt threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter, had 200 yards by halftime and finished 21-for-34. He also had Colorado's first 400-yard game since 1999 and the third-highest total in a debut for the Buffaloes.
"Joel was sensational," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said.
As usual, Colorado State's Bradlee Van Pelt made things interesting.
He threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to David Anderson on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut Colorado's lead to 35-28, then tied the game with 1:50 left with some hard running.
Van Pelt took off right on an option, broke two tackles near the line, then cut upfield for a 30-yard touchdown.
"He's a very tough guy to play," Colorado's Sean Tufts said. "If you take away one part of his game, he beats you with another."
About the only mistake he made was leaving too much time for Klatt.
Colorado got the ball back on its 25-yard line with 1:44 left and marched quickly down the field.
Colorado's fans thought Purify scored on a 4-yard run with 48 seconds left, but it was called back by a procedure penalty.
Purify left no doubt on the second try, breaking around left end and diving to the corner pylon to give Colorado its first win in an opener in five years under Barnett.
Colorado State got the ball back at its own 20-yard line, but Van Pelt's final pass from the 50 was knocked down.
"It's tough to leave everything on the field and not get a 'W'," said Colorado State's Marcus Houston, who had 104 yards on 15 carries against his former team.
Buildup for the rivalry game was more intense than it had been in recent years, leading 76,219 fans to pile into Invesco Field -- the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game in Colorado.
They saw plenty of action.
Colorado scored 28 points in the second quarter to take a 14-point lead at halftime, then held on after a 28-minute lightning delay to beat Colorado State for just the second time in five years.
Derek McCoy had 192 yards receiving and two touchdowns for Colorado, which finished with 504 total yards.
Van Pelt was 18-for-38 for a career-high 339 yards and three touchdowns, and he rushed for two more scores. Chris Pittman had seven catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns for Colorado State, which had 585 yards.
"I expected the game to be more low-scoring because they were supposed to be real good on defense," Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said. "I thought that we'd be a little better on defense."
Luckily for the Buffaloes, Klatt seemed to have an answer every time the Rams scored.
Colorado State pulled within seven early in the third quarter on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Van Pelt to Pittman, but Klatt followed with a 78-yard pass to Derek McCoy in pouring rain to put Colorado up 35-14.
"He didn't get rattled," Barnett said.
Van Pelt started things off, keeping the ball on an option right for a 10-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Colorado tied it early in the second quarter on Purify's 6-yard touchdown run, but the Rams answered less than two minutes later on a 32-yard pass from Van Pelt to Pittman.
Colorado needed just 56 seconds to tie it again on an 82-yard pass from Klatt to McCoy, who split two defenders on a post pattern.
Klatt followed that with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Hackett, then hit John Donahoe on a 45-yarder with 29 seconds left.