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October 26, 2013

Arizona collects 405 rushing yards, runs past Colorado

Perhaps it was apropos that, in the week leading up to the Pac-12 Conference road contest at Colorado, the Arizona athletic department resurrected its Team Ka'Deem campaign.

The online marketing tool was in full force leading up to last season's New Mexico Bowl, but quickly died once the program's star running back ran into multiple off-the-field issues in the offseason. But Ka'Deem Carey, who served a one-game suspension in the season opener as part of the in-house discipline, quietly stacked up similar performances that made him last season's leading rusher and catapulted him back into the lead heading into Saturday's showdown against the Buffaloes at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.

And against the same team he established a new Pac-12 single-game rushing record last season, the junior rumbled for four touchdowns and 119 yards - Carey's 10th consecutive above the century mark - and Arizona came up with two late, critical first-half scores in a 44-20 win over Colorado.

The Wildcats outscored the Buffaloes in the second half, 20-7, to run away.

"Ka'Deem is a freak of nature, in my opinion," UA head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "His elbow was bothering him the whole second half, they were loading up the box and he was fighting for every yard."

Arizona (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) now finds itself in three-way tie for second place in the conference's South division, with help from No. 12-ranked UCLA's loss at No. 2 Oregon, and a win shy of bowl eligibility.

Colorado (3-4, 0-4 Pac-12), meanwhile, has now lost 12 consecutive Pac-12 games.

"It's very disconcerting," Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "We just got to keep fighting and moving forward. It's disheartening for the kids."

But Carey did not do it alone on the ground, as quarterback B.J. Denker ran for a career-high 192 yards - including a career-long sprint of 54 yards. The senior also threw for 265 yards on 21-of-32 passing, with a touchdown and an interception.

"[Colorado] picked their poison, and they picked wrong. B.J. had a great game today," Carey said.

As a team, UA collected a season-high 405 rushing yards. The team's 670 total yards was the third-highest in school history.

Trailing 13-10 in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half, the Wildcats ripped the momentum away on a 7-yard scoring run by Carey, a quick three-and-out from the defense and a 44-yard, over-the-shoulder strike from Denker to freshman receiver Nate Phillips.

The drive that pushed UA's halftime lead to 24-13 lasted just 27 seconds and was set up by a 30-yard run by Carey.

"I can't say what [Colorado's] offensive coordinator was thinking," Denker said, "but I'm glad that they gave us that much time. We don't need that much time to score, anyway; we got the ball with 1:17. For most offenses, that's not a lot of time, but for us, that's normal."

Coming off a 232-yard performance last week, Carey ran for scores of 1, 7, 1 and 6 yards to give him 10 touchdowns this season and 39 for his career - five shy of tying Art Luppino's all-time school record. His 1-yard score to cap Arizona's opening 14-play, 88-yard drive also gave him at least one rushing touchdown in 17 of his last 19 games.

Carey's 17 yards in the first series also put him in fourth place on Arizona's all-time rushing list, moving past Mike Bell (3,163 yards).

But a defensive breakdown from UA's secondary tied the game at 7 midway through the first quarter. CU receiver Paul Richardson put a move on cornerback Jonathan McKnight to shake loose for a 75-yard touchdown reception.

Buffs true freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau completed 17 of 32 throws for 212 yards, with the touchdown and an interception.

"I knew they were worried about my speed," Richardson said. "[McKnight] started running, I broke inside of him and Sefo threw a perfect pass across the field. I just had to finish the play, so I ran under it and scored."

Arizona took just a 10-7 lead into the second quarter, keeping the black-out-clad Colorado crowd in the game after Garic Wharton lost a fumble after a catch while running into his own blocker.

The Buffs capitalized as place-kicker Will Oliver booted a career-long 53-yard field goal to tie the game with 14:50 remaining in the half and give CU full control of the momentum.

The rhythm that Denker established early - he completed his first nine passes - briefly disappeared with less than eight minutes to play in the half. The senior was hit as he threw and fired an interception long into the hands of safety Jered Bell.

Oliver's 48-yarder with 5:12 remaining then gave the Buffs their first lead, 13-10.

"We knew there was going to be adversity," Rodriguez said.

"Our guys competed hard, made some uncharacteristic mistakes that could have cost us but we also made enough plays to win it."

The Wildcats eventually went back to their workhorse Carey, who plowed into the end zone and remained upright on a punishing 7-yard run through three would-be tacklers with 2:28 left in the quarter.

The UA defense then quickly gave the offense the ball back with 1:11 until halftime. It turned out to be plenty of time and the critical sequence.

"That was very key," Denker said of the two scores. "We came out really well for our first two drives with good production. Then, we kind of flattened off for the next couple of drives. To end the half like we did and then come out in the third quarter and play well too was the key."

William Parks, the sophomore safety who filled in for an injured Jared Tevis for a second consecutive week, sparked the defense with seven tackles - one for a loss - a pair of broken-up passes and the first interception of his career.

Wildcats place-kicker Jake Smith was a perfect 3 for 3 on field goals and made all five of his extra-point attempts.

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Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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