Saturday standouts from Colorado’s 23-30 overtime loss to Air Force

Sep 14, 2019; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Dimitri Stanley (14) makes a catch for a touchdown in the second half against the Air Force Falcons at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Before kickoff Saturday morning, Mel Tucker said “We have to be opportunistic.” The Buffaloes had no shortage of opportunities, Saturday, but were unable to capitalize during a battle with Air Force. Troy Calhoun improved the Falcons’ all-time record against Colorado to 5-12 in his 13th year as the Air Force head coach. Air Force defeated Colorado 30-23, after another late game surge from the Buffaloes forced overtime for the second week in a row.

The game began with a couple promising possessions, as Colorado took the opening kickoff and put together a methodical 11-play, 75-yard drive. The first offensive opportunity for Colorado was capped off with a 42-yard touchdown catch and run by Laviska Shenault Jr.

Shenault is the first standout performer of the game, producing numbers Colorado fans are more accustomed to seeing from the star receiver. He finished the day with 124 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 receptions and 25 yards and a touchdown on 3 rushing attempts. Shenault is the No. 1 weapon on the Colorado offense and the plays were finally called that way against Air Force.

Other than Shenault, the Colorado offense was not very effective. Both young running backs were held in check by the disciplined Falcons defense. Steven Montez was under aggressive pressure for much of the game, but also made some poor throws when the pocket was clean. Six penalties cost the Buffs momentum and field position on multiple occasions.

The second standout performer was Air Force junior quarterback Donald Hammond III. Hammond had no pass attempts in the Falcons’ first game against Colgate, but threw for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns against Colorado. Air Force had an extra week to prepare for the Buffaloes, and it seems to have paid off in a big way. Hammond also added 22 yards and a touchdown rushing.

The Colorado defense struggled containing the triple option and the passing attack of Air Force as well. Some notable standouts on the defensive side for the Buffs were senior outside linebacker Davion Taylor, who ripped the ball from an Air Force runner on their first drive, Mikial Onu, who recorded a takeaway for the third week in a row, and safety Aaron Maddox, whose pursuit slowed the Air Force run game until he was carted off the field with a leg injury. Onu’s interception at the end of the first half put Colorado in position to roar back in the second half again after two weeks of successful halftime adjustments.

Unfortunately, the offense that had outscored opponents 62-24 in the second half in the first two weeks of the season continued to struggle in the second half. A Dimitri Stanley touchdown reception put the Buffaloes within seven, but a blocked extra point meant the next score would be for the tie. Air Force penalties and a great tackle for loss by Delrick Abrams Jr. gave Colorado life.

After a few completions to Shenault and a wildcat play where he powered into the endzone, Colorado again sent a game into overtime after trailing double digits at the half. Air Force scored on the first play of overtime, and Colorado was unable to answer.

Colorado (2-1) takes on Arizona State (3-0) next Saturday in Tempe, AZ.

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