BOULDER, Colorado — The Colorado Buffaloes scored touchdowns on a blocked punt and an interception in their 34-0 win over Arizona on Saturday that extended the nation’s longest losing streak to 18 games.
Stumbling since a season-opening rout of Northern Colorado, the Buffaloes (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) shook off their four-game losing streak thanks to Trevor Woods’ 36-yard scoop and score of the punt he blocked and defensive end Carson Wells’ 50-yard interception return for a touchdown on consecutive Arizona possessions.
Brendon Lewis followed up with a 62-yard scoring strike to Brenden Rice that put Colorado ahead 27-0 late in the third quarter.
Lewis finished 12 of 19 for 248 yards and two touchdowns and Rice caught three passes for 111 yards.
The Buffs managed just two first-half field goals against an Arizona team that hasn’t won since beating Colorado 35-30 win at Folsom Field on Oct. 5, 2019.
The Wildcats (0-6, 0-3) had played better in recent weeks, keeping No. 9 Oregon and UCLA close until the fourth quarter but this one blew up on them in the third.
The Wildcats turned back to redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz after losing starting quarterback Jordan McCloud to season-ending ankle and knee injuries last week. By the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had turned to fellow freshman Will Plummer.
Neither was effective: Cruz was 13 of 22 for 82 yards and Plummer 7 of 17 for 71 yards.
This was the West’s version of the UMass-UConn game earlier this month that pitted two winless FBC independents, and for much of the afternoon it was the snooze fest everyone expected.
The first half featured almost as many punts (five) as points as the Buffs took a 6-0 lead into the locker room on the strength of two Cole Becker field goals and a goal line stand.
The Wildcats were stuffed for no gain on three straight runs from the Colorado 1 late in the first half. Arizona coach Jedd Fisch called timeout and called for a fourth-down rollout.
Pressured by linebacker Nate Landman, Cruz misfired his pass to Stanley Berryhill in the end zone. The Buffs took over at their 1 and a defensive holding call gave them some breathing room and allowed them to run out the clock.
Colorado also faced fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the first half, but coach Karl Dorrell sent out his kicker much to the chagrin of the crowd of 49,806.
Becker’s 19-yard field goal gave the Buffs their first opening drive score of the season and Dorrell’s decision looked much better through the lens of Colorado’s second drive that ended in a turnover on downs.
Running back Alex Fontenot was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Arizona 30-yard line.
Fontenot set up Becker’s second field goal, from 37 yards out, by hauling in a 43-yard pass at the Arizona 24. Lewis uncorked the pass while under extreme pressure.
Not unexpectedly, the punters had some of the better plays for both teams.
Arizona’s Kyle Ostendorp buried the Buffs at their own 3 with a perfectly placed 42-yard punt in the first half and Josh Watts followed that by getting Colorado out of trouble with a 64-yard punt out of his own end zone.
In the first half, the teams combined for nine plays in the red zone and they netted just a dozen yards, all by Colorado.
The Buffs went three-and-out on their first two drives after the break but their defense and special teams helped them break away for a rare rout at Folsom Field.
Lewis capped his big day with an 11-yard touchdown toss to Dimitri Stanley, and Colorado preserved the shutout when cornerback Nikko Reed broke up Plummer’s fourth-down pass to Jalen Johnson in the end zone with a minute remaining.
Arizona: Hosts Washington on Friday night, Oct. 22.
Colorado: Visits the California Bears on Oct. 23.