Reggie Dunn got his hands on the football just one time Friday, and that’s all he needed to send Utah past Colorado, 42-35, sealing the worst season in the Buffaloes’ storied history.
“I can’t for the life of me figure out why they kicked to Reggie Dunn,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “But we’re glad they did.”
Utah’s last two opponents, Washington and Arizona, used short kickoffs to keep the ball away from the NCAA record-holding returner, and the Buffs used booming touchbacks in the altitude of Boulder, Colo., to do the same thing for most of the afternoon.
Yet, following Marques Mosley’s 100-yard kickoff return for a Colorado score, Buffaloes kicker Zach Grossnickle booted it right to Dunn, who responded with his own 100-yard TD return 13 seconds after Mosley’s to break a 35-35 tie.
Dunn extended his NCAA record with his fifth career 100-yard kickoff return – and his fourth this season.
“That’s got to be the most memorable, man,” said Dunn, a senior. “The last game of my collegiate career and to end a game like that, unbelievable.”
After Mosley’s 100-yard TD, “everybody was like, ‘Just match ’em,’ ” Dunn recounted. “We knew we could do it. We feel like we’re the best kickoff return team in the nation.”
And the best returner.
“He’s a beast,” said Utes running back John White, who ran 20 times for 168 yards and became the first Utah player with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. “He’s the record holder. You kick it to him, you’re going to pay for it.”
In a big way.
The Utes (5-7 overall, 3-6 Pacific-12 Conference ) doubled their season total with four interceptions of Nick Hirschman, and they sent the Buffaloes (1-11, 1-8) to their worst finish since the school’s inaugural 0-4 campaign in 1890.
Colorado failed to win a game at home for the first time since 1920.
“Tough game, tough loss,” said a weeping Buffaloes coach Jon Embree, adding he was infuriated that a fan berated one of his disconsolate players coming off the field.
The Utes, who hadn’t won on the road all season, outscored Colorado 22-7 down the stretch after third-quarter TD runs of 3 yards by Tony Jones and 5 yards by Donta Abron gave the Buffaloes a 28-20 lead starting the fourth quarter.
The teams combined for 21 points in a stunning 29-second span after Moe Lee’s crucial interception at the Colorado 30-yard line:
• Utah quarterback Travis Wilson scored on a 9-yard keeper to break a 28-28 tie with 8:41 remaining.
• Mosley returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to tie it back up at 35. It was Colorado’s first kickoff return for a score in three years.
• Dunn then raced 100 yards down the Utes’ exuberant sideline one last time to cap his record-breaking collegiate career.
“It’s just amazing,” Dunn said. “They return one back and then we return one, just hushed their crowd and our defense ends it like it’s supposed to be.”
The Utes got the ball back on downs, then punted before Brian Blechen corralled Hirschman’s fourth interception to seal Colorado’s doom.
Arizona State 41, at Arizona 34: Marion Grice ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and the Sun Devils (7-5, 5-4) scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Wildcats (7-5, 4-5).
Trailing 27-17 after Arizona scored 18 points in the third quarter, ASU fought back, turning two turnovers and a blocked punt into three touchdowns.