TEMPE, Ariz. — The Colorado Buffaloes emerged victorious in a thrilling showdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium, securing a 27-24 win in Pac-12 college football action. Led by quarterback Shedeur Sanders’ late-game heroics, the Buffs improved their season record to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play, while the Sun Devils slipped to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
Sanders Shines in Fourth-Quarter Comeback
Once again, Shedeur Sanders showcased his fourth-quarter magic, orchestrating a game-winning drive that culminated in a 43-yard field goal by Alejandro Mata with a mere 12 seconds left on the clock. This marked the third fourth-quarter game-winning or game-tying rally this season for Sanders, underlining his reputation as a clutch performer.
Sanders’ stat line for the game was impressive, going 26-for-42 for 239 yards and a touchdown, in addition to a rushing score. Particularly noteworthy was his fourth-quarter performance, where he completed 6 of 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. This season, he boasts an impressive 44-for-58 record, amassing 669 yards and seven touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone.
Wide receiver Javon Antonio, returning from injury, played a pivotal role in the Buffaloes’ victory, recording five receptions for a team-high 81 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Michael Harrison contributed with six catches for 36 yards while running back Anthony Hankerson rushed 10 times for 58 yards.
Colorado’s Slow Start and Strong Finish
Despite a sluggish start, where Colorado found themselves trailing for most of the game, the Buffs managed to turn the tide in their favor in the fourth quarter. Sanders’ 9-yard touchdown pass to Javon Antonio early in the final quarter put them ahead 21-17, securing their first lead of the game. A 42-yard field goal by Mata extended their lead to 24-17 with 10:13 left in regulation.
However, the Sun Devils responded with a 94-yard touchdown drive orchestrated by quarterback Trenton Bourguet, who threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Troy Omeire, tying the game at 24-24 with 50 seconds remaining. But with Sanders under center, the Buffs had enough time to engineer their game-winning drive, culminating in Mata’s 43-yard field goal.
Coach Prime Calls for Improvement
Despite the victory, Colorado’s head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders was far from satisfied with his team’s performance, expressing his frustration with their inconsistent play, penalties, and lackluster first-half efforts.
“Played like hot garbage,” Sanders remarked. “I’m sick of us coming out here and putting forth the effort we put forth in the first half. We’re better than that. I apologize for my anger today, but I don’t accept mediocrity.”
Sanders emphasized the need for his team to start stronger and maintain their performance throughout the entire game.
Key Moments and Turning Points
The game’s pivotal moment came early in the fourth quarter when Colorado took a 21-17 lead following Sanders’ touchdown pass to Antonio. Despite Arizona State’s late-game efforts to tie the game, the momentum appeared to be firmly on Colorado’s side, eventually leading to their triumph.
What It Means for Colorado
The victory halted Colorado’s two-game losing streak and marked Coach Prime’s first conference win since taking over the program. The Buffs are now just two wins away from becoming bowl-eligible, with six games remaining on their schedule.
Colorado will face Stanford next Friday, aiming to build on their recent success, while Arizona State will have a week off before taking on Washington on October 21.
Colorado’s thrilling victory over Arizona State showcased Shedeur Sanders’ fourth-quarter heroics and marked a significant step forward in their quest for postseason eligibility. Coach Prime remains determined to address his team’s early-game struggles and penalties as they continue their campaign in the competitive Pac-12 conference.
All photos by Kevin C. Cox, Maximum Exposure for CORE360 Sports