Colorado probably has double vision now. The same player that set the FBS record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback in last year's matchup torched the Buffs again, this time with his arm.
Khalil Tate threw for a career-high 350 yards, along with five touchdowns as Arizona football defeated Colorado 42-34 on Friday night in Arizona Stadium.
After the first quarter, it looked like the 'Cats might be suffering from an emotional let-down.
Tate returned to his pre-season, Heisman-hopeful form starting in the second quarter, floating in passes from on high to surprised wide receivers on a number of occasions. He guided Arizona to eight straight possessions with a score starting in the second quarter.
With the win, Arizona now moves to 5-5 overall and second place (4-3) in the Pac-12 Conference.
However, a fourth quarter interception would help give the Buffaloes a chance late.
Rolling out to avoid a sack, Tate lobbed a pass downfield intended for Shun Brown, but K.D. Nixon of Colorado would swoop under the pass and allow the Buffalo offense one last chance to even the game.
Senior quarterback Steven Montez would lead the Buffaloes into the Arizona red zone before throwing an interception of his own, picked off by Troy Young at the two-yard line. The Wildcats, backed up against their own end zone, would turn to J.J. Taylor three consecutive times before he broke through for a 15-yard gain.
From there, it was all Taylor to salt the game away. The Wildcat offense ended the game with 566 yards of total offense.
Taylor would finish with 192 rushing yards, his third consecutive game of 100 or more yards.
Leading by a point to start the final frame, Tate scrambled for 25 yards at the beginning of the fourth quarter in a throwback to his first appearance last year against the Buffs. On the next play, Tate would connect with wide receiver Cedric Peterson for his fifth touchdown of the night to extend the Wildcat lead to 42-34.
Defensively, the Wildcats allowed 383 yards and more than double the amount of points as Oregon. Lead by the likes of Colin Schooler, Tony Fields and PJ Johnson, the defensive unit harried and hit Montez all evening, collecting five sacks, nine tackles for loss and a fumble recovery for the game.
Trailing by eight late, the Buffs would mount a long drive led by Montez. But the 'Cats' defense would force two consecutive fourth downs deep in its own territory, finally turning the Buffs over with just over eight minutes to play.
Colorado, down 26-24 at the break, began the scoring in the second half on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Montez to wide receiver Tony Brown to retake the lead 31-26.
Arizona would answer back with its own drive and pass touchdown, this time for 39 yards from Tate to Shawn Poindexter. The following two-point conversion would fail, and the Wildcats would cling to a one-point lead at 32-31.
With their next possession, the 'Cats chipped away at the clock and at the Buffs defensive front, running Taylor for long gains. However, the Buffs would ultimately stone the Wildcats on a crucial third down, forcing a 41-yard Josh Pollock field goal to push the lead to 35-31.
The third quarter ended much like the first half, except this time Colorado would be the beneficiary of a long field goal. Placekicker Tyler Francis booted a 48-yard field goal to close the quarter and bring the Buffaloes back within a point, 35-34.
This was a strong showing for the Wildcats, who spent the first quarter mired behind Colorado's rush defense, trailed early 10-0.
The second quarter was another story. After a Colorado possession that went nowhere, Tate and the Wildcats finally struck pay-dirt. Tate threw a 40-yard rocket to Stanley Berryhill for the score, tying the game at 10-10.
The 'Cats would score 26 points in the quarter on the back of three touchdown passes by Tate, while the defense began to make life more difficult for Montez.
Montez, who last year was overshadowed during Tate's Pac-12 record-breaking rushing performance of 327 yards, burned UA with his arm throughout the game, evading tacklers and extending plays for numerous first downs. Montez finished the game with 343 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
Colorado wasn't done, striking at the end of the second half for a 57-yard touchdown heartbreaker to, it seemed, end the half.
Lucas Havrisik would do the Buffs one better, adding to the late-quarter surprises and closing out the half with a 55-yard field goal to seal the halftime lead for the Cats.
The Buffs also opened the scoring in the first half with an eight-yard rush by Nixon to make it 7-0. Instead of answering back strong, Taylor fumbled the ball on the Arizona eight yard-line to set up another short field for the Buffs.
However, the 'Cats defense would come up big and hold the Buffs to a 25-yard field goal to limit the damage to 10-0.
Arizona's offense finally got going with two minutes to play in the first quarter, and Taylor appeared to run for an 18-yard touchdown before a holding penalty took the points away and pushed the Wildcats out of the redzone, forcing the 'Cats to settle for a Havrisik 49-yard field goal.
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