3:30 PM ET, September 11, 2004
Martin Stadium, PULLMAN, WA
SEATTLE (AP) -- That wasn't an ugly win by unbeaten Colorado -- not to Buffaloes coach Gary Barnett, anyway.
Lawrence Vickers recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, Joe Sanders returned an interception for a score and Colorado made a late goal line stand for a second straight week to beat Washington State 20-12 Saturday.
"You just can't put uglies on them. There aren't enough wins," said Barnett, whose program has endured months of turmoil amid accusations of rape, alcohol use by minors and a four-month suspension for the head coach.
"You appreciate every one of them you get in life and the sport," Barnett added. "They don't ever come down the way you thought they'd come down. You can label it ugly, but they don't put U-W's (ugly wins) in the press guide. They just put W's."
The Buffaloes (2-0) escaped, no question. Washington State (1-1) gained 416 total yards to 117 for Colorado, but the Cougars couldn't overcome a handful of special-teams blunders.
"We've got a lot of work to do, men," coach Bill Doba said. "We'll continue to work. Three turnovers and a blocked punt? It was just an embarrassment and we're going to have to get better."
Sanders stepped in front of a pass by Washington State reserve Alex Brink -- sophomore starter Josh Swogger was benched after an awful day -- and returned it 51 yards to put the Buffaloes ahead 17-6 with 9:13 to play.
"He was looking my direction before he even finished his drop," Sanders said. "I saw the two receivers slanting out. I knew what was coming and I jumped the route before he threw it."
Brink, a freshman, recovered with a 60-yard TD strike to Jason Hill, pulling the Cougars to 17-12 with 8:04 to go.
Just when the Cougars seemed ready to rebound, Colorado's Terrence Wheatley returned the ensuing kickoff 59 yards. That set up Mason Crosby's 41-yard field goal, giving the Buffaloes a 20-12 lead with 4:42 on the clock.
Washington State got a final chance, taking over at its own 44 with 1:13 to play. Brink threw a 40-yard completion to Hill to move the ball to the 5, then fumbled at the 2 while scrambling for the goal line.
"I thought I was going in," Brink said. "I wanted that touchdown."
Colorado's Jordan Dizon forced the fumble and Matt McChesney recovered. Last week, J.J. Billingsley made a game-saving tackle as time expired as the Buffaloes beat rival Colorado State.
"I'm still getting used to it," Barnett said when asked about two straight goal-line stands. "We should just go down to the last four seconds of the game instead of going all the way through it. Our guys are pretty courageous."
This week, it was tied 3-3 after two sloppy quarters.
The Cougars had one fumble, six punts, several dropped passes, two missed field goal attempts and a bobbled snap on another field goal try. The Buffaloes punted five times and fumbled twice. Each team committed six penalties.
Tyrone Henderson had the breakthrough play for Colorado.
He burst up the middle to block a punt by Washington State's Kyle Basler midway through the third quarter. The ball went 25 yards in the other direction, with Vickers dropping on it at the goal line to make it 10-3.
"This is big," Sanders said. "My mom used to always tell me, 'Smile in the face of adversity.' That's what we're doing right now. We can't let anything get us down. We've got to play hard. Things are in the past now."
The Cougars answered, getting an interception by Jeremy Bohannon to set up a 35-yard field goal by Loren Langley.
While both offenses struggled, some of that had to do with each team's defense. Colorado's Bobby Purify, who had 189 yards rushing in last week's win over Colorado State, was held to 53 yards rushing.
Hill had six catches for 206 yards and a TD.
Swogger was 6-of-27 for 77 yards. In the second half, he completed only one of six throws. Brink, meanwhile, completed 12-of-23 passes for 251 with one touchdown and one interception.
"If we make some catches, I think it's a different ballgame," Swogger said.
Colorado's Joel Klatt was 12-of-24 for 78 yards with one interception.
Washington State has moved one home game from Pullman to Seattle each of the last three years, drawing big crowds from legions of fans who live on the west side of the Cascade Range.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-17||7-23|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-1|
|FG||1:41||MASON CROSBY 52 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 30 yards.
|FG||12:14||LOREN LANGLEY 44 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 26 yards.
|TD||6:50||LAWRENCE VICKERS 0 YD BLOCKED PUNT RETURN (MASON CROSBY KICK)||10||3|
|FG||0:23||LOREN LANGLEY 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 62 yards.
|TD||9:13||JOE SANDERS 51 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (MASON CROSBY KICK)||17||6|
|TD||8:04||JASON HILL 60 YD PASS FROM ALEX BRINK (FAILED 2PT PASS)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 74 yards.
|FG||4:42||MASON CROSBY 41 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 17 yards.