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Arizona-Colorado game blog: Carey sets Pac-12 rushing record

Arizona put the final touches on a 56-31 victory over Colorado, with Ka’Deem Carey setting the Pac-12 rushing mark with 366 yards on 25 carries.

“Ka’Deem runs as hard and as angry as any running back in the country,” said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. “We did a good job up front today for him today, but he’s in great shape and he can take some of those hits.”

Arizona improved to 6-4 overall and 3-4 in the Pac-12. Colorado lost its sixth consecutive game, falling to 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the league.

Check back later at TucsonCitizen.com for more game coverage …

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Going down to the field. Be back with stories, quotes, reaction after the game. Storylines: Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona bowl eligibility, B.J. Denker’s efficiency, more questionable defense from Arizona … and a Colorado team that is among the worst in league history in the past three decades.

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Ka’Deem Carey stays in, blasts up the middle for 64 yards down to the Colorado 3. He then takes it in from there, giving him five rushing touchdowns and 366 rushing yards — a Pac-12 record. The old mark was 357, set by Rueben Mayes of Washington State in 1984.

Arizona leads 56-31.

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Colorado still fighting, scoring on a 71-yard to rumbling tight end Scott Fernandez to cut the lead to 49-31 with 10:22 to go. Arizona has allowed 31 points to a team that had scored a total of 20 in the past three games.

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Colorado scores on an 8-yard with 13:15 to play in the fourth quarter. Whatever. Arizona leads 49-24 and the headline of the game is going to be Ka’Deem Carey.

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And that’s the school record: Ka’Deem Carey blasts 71 yards, again right through the middle, down to the Colorado 13. That gives him 293 yards, breaking the mark of 288, set by Trung Canidate vs. ASU in 1998.

UA scores quickly after the long run, taking a 49-17 lead with 1:30 to go in the third quarter.

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More Ka’Deem Carey. He scores on an 8-yard up the middle to push the lead to 42-17 with 6:47 to go in the third quarter. He has 20 carries for 222 yards (the fifth-most in a game in school history) and a UA-record tying four rushing touchdowns.

The number to watch: 288 yards. That’s the school rushing record for a game, set by Trung Canidate in a thriller vs. Arizona State in 1998.

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Scary moment as Austin Hill, diving to make a catch on a post pattern deep in the end zone, crashes into the goal post. After staying down for about 30 seconds, he gets up and trots off the field, apparently OK.

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Arizona scores quickly again, taking a 35-17 lead with 13:04 to go in the third quarter on a 9-yard pass from B.J. Denker to Dan Buckner. Four of Arizona’s five touchdown drives have taken less than 2 minutes. Ka’Deem Carey has 182 rushing yards, a career high.

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Ka’Deem Carey, on his first carry of the second half, goes 46 yards up the middle. He’s well on his way to 200 yards.

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Halftime. Other than the fumble on the first play, B.J. Denker has efficiently run the Arizona offense, using quick-strike drives to overcome the Buffaloes’ plodding approach.

Arizona up 28-17 and will get the ball to start the second half.

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B.J. Denker has completed 9 of 10 passes, including a 21-yard touchdown to Dan Buckner, who slips behind the Colorado defense for a score with 1:11 to go before half. Arizona goes up 28-17 with 1:11 to play in the half. All that running by Ka’Deem Carey helped open up that pass play.

Carey has 121 rushing yards in the half. His career high is 172, set against Washington this season.

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The Arizona defense can’t get itself off the field. Colorado earlier had a drive of 8:18 and now puts together a possession covering 7:46, ending in a 1-yard touchdown run by Christian Powell. Buffs battle back to within 21-17 with just under three minutes to go before half.

Colorado was helped by a pass interference call against Derrick Rainey in the end zone on third-and-7 from the UA 9.

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Bondurant back in. Crisis averted.

* * *

Tra’Mayne Bondurant is helped off the field, walking tenderly with an apparent right leg injury, with 7:34 to go in the second quarter. The secondary is already missing safety Jourdon Grandon. True freshman Wayne Capers Jr. is in.

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It’s Ka’Deem Carey Day. He scores on a 30-yard run for a 21-10 lead with 10:30 to go in the second quarter. Colorado knows he is going to get the ball, right? He has 105 total yards and three TDs so far.

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As if he was in the Colorado huddle, safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant steps in front of a screen pass and picks off quarterback Nick Hirschman at the UA 32. If not for a bobble, he would have been off to the races for a touchdown. Instead, he takes his time making the catch and goes 19 yards with the return.

* * *

Another true frosh, Dakota Conwell, now getting time in place of true frosh C.J. Dozier at outside linebacker.

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After Colorado’s looong drive, Arizona counters with a tide touchdown drive in 1:59. Ka’Deem Carey does a lot of the heavy lifting, taking a swing pass 26 yards for a touchdown and capping the drive with a 13-yard burst up the middle. Arizona leads 14-10 with 13:31 to play before halftime.

Carey has 15 rushing touchdowns, third in UA history for a season, one behind Kelvin Eafon for second.

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Colorado takes a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter on an 18-yard field goal. A curious decision to get the three points instead of going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Can’t think of any good time for a 1-8 team to be conservative.

Good for the Buffs, though, by taking 8:18 off the clock on that drive.

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Another personnel change to note: True freshman C.J. Dozier started over Sir Thomas Jackson at outside linebacker. A true freshman replaces a redshirt freshman walk-on. Such are the experience issues for Arizona on defense.

* * *

Colorado, with nothing to lose really, went for it on fourth-and-1 from its 39 with about 7 minutes to go in the first quarter. Nick Hirschman squirmed for the first down on a quarterback sneak.

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B.J. Denker and the offense have a confidence-building drive on the second possession, crisply marching 80 yards in nine plays. The left-handed Denker looks sharp on short passes rolling to his left, and Ka’Deem Carey finishes the drive with a 10-yard run as he bounces outside the block of left tackle Mickey Baucus and finds his way into the end zone.

Arizona ties the game at 7 with 9:01 left in the first quarter.

* * *

Well, so much for Arizona and QB B.J. Denker getting off to a fast start. On the Cats’ first offensive play, with Arizona in a four-wide set, Denker mishandles a handoff to Ka’Deem Carey with the ball bouncing on the ground as Carey continued to move forward unaware of the fumble.

Colorado linebacker Derrick Webb recovered at the UA 7, and the Buffs score one play later on a run by Christian Powell. CU leads 7-0 with 11:59 to go in the first quarter.

* * *

Arizona leads the nation in opponent penalty yards. That comes in handy as a 75-yard TD on a screen pass is called back by CU holding on the first possession of the game.

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Arizona wins the toss and defers the choice. Colorado starts with the ball and goes with Nick Hirchman at quarterback. It’s a big moment for Arizona redshirt freshman walk-on Vince Miles. He starts for injured Jourdon Grandon at safety.

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Arizona came out to warm-ups wearing white helmets, blue jerseys and blue pants.

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Bowl eligibility — get it while you can.

The Arizona Wildcats will try for their sixth win of the season today against Colorado, in a game that starts at 11:30 a.m. from Arizona Stadium. The Buffaloes are 1-8 overall, including a home loss to lower-division Sacramento State and a current five-game losing streak in which the they have been outscored 261-51.

How CU rallied to win 35-34 at Washington State in September is one of the Pac-12′s great mysteries (beyond that fact that the Cougars are hopelessly flawed, too).

The thing is, if the 5-3 Cats don’t find a way to beat a down-and-out Colorado team today on Homecoming, then the outlook for the final two games becomes bleak and the postseason possibilities could slip right through their fingers.

After this is a game at Utah, followed by a home game against rival Arizona State.

“One of my first conversations with the team in December after I was first hired, they were sitting at home and 70 other teams were playing in bowl games,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “Our guys certainly didn’t like that.

“I wanted it to hurt. If you’re a college football player … and you’re not playing in a bowl game, you should be disappointed. I think to a man they felt that way. We have not talked about that as being a goal, but it’s certainly out there for us.”

Three things to watch

For Arizona, the big question is the play of quarterback B.J. Denker, making his first start in place of Matt Scott (concussion). We’ve covered Denker earlier this week, so let’s look at three other things to watch:

1. Colorado quarterbacks

Yeah, the Buffaloes will have a new guy behind center, too, with coach Jon Embree benching Jordan Webb, whose passing efficiency rating of 106.9 doesn’t rank among the top 100 in the nation.

The Buffs will go with either Nick Hirschman or Connor Wood, or some combination of the two. Each has attempted 29 passes, unspectacularly, in backup duty. Perhaps one will rise to the challenge today.

“They’re going to run the same plays,” Rodriguez said. “They’re not going to change their offense.”

2. Arizona Ka’Deem Carey

With Scott out, the thinking is that Arizona will get more conservative and let Carey pound a Colorado defense that is last in the Pac-12 against the run (204.2 yards per game) and last in scoring (46.2 points per game).

Problem is, if we know it’s coming, then the Buffs do, too.

Before last week’s 66-10 loss at UCLA, Carey had a three-game stretch in which he rushed 86 times — at least 28 times in each game. How many can he handle today?

“It depends on how they’re defending it and if we’re having any success with it at all,” Rodriguez said. “But like I say, the ball only weighs a few ounces, he can carry it 30 times a game. He’s a strong, strong guy. But it really depends on how they are playing us.”

In Arizona’s dream scenario, Carey gets perhaps around 25 carries, has a big lead, and then Daniel Jenkins and others can finish off the game.

3. A fast start

Arizona has been a slow starter all too often this season, being outscored 59-40 in the first quarter — the Wildcats’ lowest-scoring period by nearly half.

The last thing the Cats want to do is let an underdog hang around, especially when Scott isn’t available to lead quick-strike runs such as Arizona had in big wins over Oklahoma State and USC.

And then there’s this: “Colorado might feel that they have a better chance after our game against UCLA,” said UA linebacker Jake Fischer.

All the more reason to put this one in the bank early.


The oddsmakers still believe, making Arizona a 29-point favorite even without Scott. Maybe they just really dislike Colorado.

It’s difficult to assume anything, though, with Denker at the controls of UA’s offense.

Will he be turnover-prone? Can he do enough in the passing game to prevent the Buffs from stacking up against Carey? Will the Cats use more of the read-option with Denker taking snaps? Will they have to slow their tempo at all?

In normal circumstances, this could be — should be — a rout. But, really, any kind of win will do.

Arizona 32, Colorado 17.

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