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After fast start, Massachusetts struggles in season-opening 48-14 loss to Colorado


BOULDER, Colorado — Massachusetts played Colorado even for more than a quarter. Once the Buffaloes got their running game rolling, the Minutemen couldn't keep up.

Michael Adkins and Christian Powell became the first Colorado tailbacks to eclipse 100 yards rushing in the same game in nearly five years, helping the Buffaloes snap a nine-game losing skid by beating Massachusetts 48-14 on Saturday.

Blake Frohnapfel threw for 225 yards and one score for the Minutemen (0-1). Tajae Sharpe had 11 catches for 138 yards. He's caught a pass in 36 straight games, the third-longest active streak in the nation.

"We didn't respond when they ran the ball," Massachusetts coach Mark Whipple said. "We did a poor job on that side of the ball. We didn't make any plays."

The Minutemen played the first 20 minutes like they were going to match Colorado point for point. Massachusetts answered the Buffaloes' first two scores with touchdowns. The Buffaloes scored 10 straight to go up 24-14 midway through the second quarter before the Minutemen drove deep into Colorado territory.

But it was a defensive play that proved pivotal midway through the second quarter. Colorado defensive back Afolabi Laguda drew a flag for targeting when he hit Sharif Custis with the crown of his helmet as the tight end tried to haul in a TD pass. Laguda was ejected from the game and the ball placed at the 10.

Three plays later, Ryan Moeller picked off a Frohnapfel pass to thwart the drive. The Buffaloes drove down the field and made it a 31-14 game on Phillip Lindsay's 2-yard burst off the left side with 1:23 left before halftime.

"We can't do that," Frohnapfel said. "That really kills momentum."

PHOTO: Colorado defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon tackles Massachusetts wide receiver Marken Michel in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Colorado defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon tackles Massachusetts wide receiver Marken Michel in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

A week after looking out of sorts in a season-opening loss at Hawaii, the Buffaloes found their groove on offense as they gained 558 yards. Adkins rushed for 119 yards and a TD, while Powell finished with 105 and two scores. Nelson Spruce caught six passes to become the school's all-time leader in receptions.

Tied at 14 early in the second quarter, Colorado (1-1) scored 34 unanswered points to turn the game into a rout. The Buffaloes rallied last season to beat UMass 41-38.

The Buffaloes were in a bad way after stumbling during a 28-20 loss to the Rainbow Warriors. They entered the season talking bowl games and that loss was a blow to the ego. This helped ease some of those doubts, especially heading into a game against Colorado State next weekend.

There were plenty of firsts in this contest for the Buffaloes, such as Phillip Lindsay's first career TD, Moeller's first career interception and Liufau's first career rushing TD.

Liufau certainly made things happen with his feet — a few well-timed scrambles — and his arm. He finished 15 of 24 for 168 yards and a TD pass to Spruce. Soon after, Liufau's work was done and he took off the fourth quarter.

Spruce became Colorado's all-time receptions leader on an out pattern early in the third quarter. With that, Spruce surpassed the record held by Scotty McKnight, who had 215 catches from 2007-10. Spruce also caught a pass in his 27th straight game.

Both defenses struggled in the first half, with the Buffaloes and Minutemen combining for 524 yards, 32 first downs and three punts.

"We started well and I think it showed," Frohnapfel said. "This was obviously a game we thought we had a chance to win. For it to turn out like that, it's extremely disappointing."

AP College Football website: http://www.collegefootball.ap.org

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