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Defense keeps Buffaloes alive until offense starts connecting

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    After the Buffaloes’ win, Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins is 6-0 against the Warriors, including games when he coached Boise State.
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BOULDER, COLO. » Dan Hawkins isn’t afraid to bang heads — even if the other guy’s wearing a helmet.

The bloody bump on the Colorado head coach’s nose yesterday seemed out of place, given Hawkins’ usually laid-back persona. As a general rule, guys who reference Gandhi don’t administer head-butts.

Hawkins got the cut by knocking noggins with one of his players in the locker room before the opening kickoff.

"I think he wanted to play," linebacker B.J. Beatty said.

When asked about it, the old UC Davis fullback joked about being ready to go into the game.

"We got a little hyped. I’m used to playing with a bloody nose," Hawkins said.

But his services weren’t needed between the lines. Brian Lockridge rushed for 109 yards and Rodney Stewart netted 106 on the ground as Colorado came back to dominate the second half of its home opener, a 31-13 win over Hawaii.

Hawkins — the former Boise State head coach who left the Broncos for the Buffs in 2006 — is now 6-0 in games against UH.

He said he was most gratified by his team’s resilience, coming back from a 52-7 loss at Cal last week and a 10-0 deficit yesterday.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith’s effort exemplified that. On the game’s second play, Smith ran from the other side of the field to tackle UH’s Kealoha Pilares at the CU 3, ending an 80-yard gain on a pass from Bryant Moniz. The touchdown-saver turned out to be huge, as Colorado then made the first of two first-quarter, goal-line stands.

"For (Smith) not to quit, that was big," Hawkins said. "(Pilares is) not slow. That guy can roll."

It fired up the rest of the defense.

"They hit that big play and we huddled up and said we’re going to bend, but not break," Beatty said. "We took it upon ourselves to make a statement. This is where we’re going to win the game."

The defense kept the Buffs in it in the first half, stiffening again when a fumbled punt helped the Warriors get to their 3.

Then the offense took over after the break, with Lockridge and Stewart running through big holes; Colorado sandwiched a safety between two long, ground-pounding drives to take a 17-10 lead.

Tyler Hansen’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Toney Clemons and another for 23 yards that bounced into Scotty McKnight’s hands iced it. Hansen, who avoided UH’s rush with a designed scramble on the first TD, said he had his choice of targets.

"I’m open," McKnight said. "At first I see the ball … ‘What is he doing? Oh, good decision.’"

Then, of his own score: "I’m a decoy on that play. I’m not even in the read. The ball was calling my name."

Someone asked Hawkins if criticism for being 18-34 since coming to Boulder would now cool.

"No," he said, breaking into a grin. "No, gotta keep moving forward."

 

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