Colorado stuns Cal 20-13 in overtime to win Sanford’s debut
BOULDER, Colorado (AP) — J.T. Shrout threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Montana Lemonious-Craig in overtime, powering Colorado to a 20-13 upset of California in interim coach Mike Sanford’s debut Saturday.
Jack Plummer had Mason Starling wide open for the score on first-and-goal from the 10 on Cal’s ensuing possession but strong safety Trevor Woods arrived just after the pass and popped the ball loose.
When Plummer’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete, the students stormed the field to celebrate Colorado’s first win of the season.
Sanford inherited a team that was off to just the fourth 0-5 start in school history, one that cost Karl Dorrell his job. Sanford placed an immediate emphasis on physicality and takeaways, which paid off on Colorado’s first defensive series with Tyrin Tyler’s sliding interception, the Bears’ first turnover in four games.
Cal (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) entered the game as a 15½-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, but Dario Longhetto was wide left on field-goal tries going both ways, missing from 54 yards in the first quarter and 48 in the second.
Longhetto was good from 34 yards as time expired in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. The Bears won the toss and chose to start out on defense.
The Buffs (1-5, 1-2) were setting up for Cole Becker’s 40-yard field goal in the extra period when a prolonged review showed that Lemonious-Craig’s right cleat was down just before he was shoved out of bounds by cornerback Collin Gamble.
Instead, Becker lined up for the extra point and gave Colorado its biggest lead at 17-10.
The game was marred by an injury to Buffaloes running back Deion Smith, who was strapped to a body board and carted off the field early in the fourth quarter after he appeared to be knocked unconscious by a big fumble-forcing hit from Gamble after a catch in the right flat.
Outside linebacker Xavier Carlton recovered the loose football while Smith lay on the field. Several of Smith’s temmates gathered around him but Cal’s medical staff, which was closest to him, shooed them away as they rushed to stabilize his head and neck. Play was halted for several minutes and the entire Buffaloes team gathered around as he was being treated.
When play resumed, the Bears drove down and tied it at 10.
The only scoring in the first half came on Becker’s 31-yard field goal with four minutes left in the second quarter following a penalty that wiped out Jordan Tyson’s 11-yard touchdown catch from Owen McCown.
Shrout replaced McCown on Colorado’s fourth possession after halftime and drove the Buffaloes to their first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Anthony Hankerson with 14:25 remaining that gave CU a 10-7 lead.
The big play on the drive was Jordan Tyson’s 37-yard heave to Lemonious-Craig on a trick play.
J. Michael Sturdivant’s diving 14-yard touchdown catch from Plummer had put the Bears up 7-3 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.
“Nothing better than a Folsom Game Day!” Sanford tweeted upon his arrival at the stadium Saturday morning. He gathered his team on the field two hours before kickoff for a pep talk followed by a hype video on the scoreboard.
Colorado’s defense limited the Bears to 103 yards of offense in the first half after allowing Arizona to pile up 400 yards by halftime in their last game.
Lemonious-Craig finished with eight catches for a gme-high 119 yards.
The Bears’ troubles continued in Boulder, where they haven’t won since 2011.
The Buffs not only will avoid a winless season but they saw a big crowd of 50,471 and gleefully watched thousands of them storm the field.
Cal CB Lu-Magia Hearns III limped to the sideline during the changeover between the third and fourth quarters.
Cal hosts Washington on Oct. 22, and Colorado visits Oregon State.
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