Charbonnet’s 3 TD runs power UCLA past Colorado 45-17
BOULDER, Colorado (AP) — Zach Charbonnet ran for three touchdowns and Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for two more to power UCLA to its seventh straight win, a 45-17 rout of winless Colorado on Saturday.
The Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) left Boulder with their first victory at Folsom Field since 2014 and their longest winning streak since winning their first eight games in 2005 under then-head coach Karl Dorrell, now the Buffaloes’ embattled leader.
“Any time you get a conference went on the road, that’s huge,” Bruins coach Chip Kelly said. “If you want to be relevant in this league you have to win road games. And that’s really the most important thing for us.
“You know, everybody in that locker room wasn’t there in 2014. Some of those kids were in elementary school.”
Freshman left-hander Owen McCown, the son of longtime NFL quarterback Josh McCown, made his starting debut for Colorado (0-4, 0-1), which has now been outscored 173-47, the first time in program history the Buffaloes have lost four consecutive games by at least 25 points.
McCown got his chance after last year’s starter, Brendon Lewis and Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout failed to ignite Colorado’s stagnant offense.
McCown scored on a 2-yard keeper and capped an 85-yard, 14-play drive with an 8-yard scoring strike to fellow freshman Jordan Tyson, but he had two turnovers and couldn’t keep the Buffaloes from dropping to 0-4 for the first time since 2006.
“Frustrating day,” Dorrell said, adding that he did see some encouraging moments out of McCown, who finished 26 of 42 for 258 yards with a TD, an interception and five sacks.
“He did some really positive things,” Dorrell said, “and he did some rookie things, too.”
UCLA outrushed Colorado 249 yards to 51, and the Bruins dominated the Pac-12 opener for both teams with touchdown drives on their first three possessions to build a 21-3 lead that was never threatened.
The Bruins were driving again when Jamar Montgomery stuffed Keegan Jones on fourth-and-2 at the Colorado 27, and the Buffaloes drove 74 yards for their first touchdown.
McCown scampered in from 2 yards out on fourth-and-goal with 19 seconds left in the first half. That pulled the Buffs to 21-10 at the break,
UCLA needed just four plays to score when Charbonnet took it in from 46 yards to make it 28-10. He also scored on runs of 35 and 13 yards in the first half following Thompson-Robinson’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Matt Sykes.
“I think it’s kind of telling us that we’re turning the edge,” Sykes said of the Bruins’ finally not just winning but dominating a game in Boulder. “This is a hard environment to play in. But I feel like today we came out, we gave everything on offense, defense, special teams and really got the job done.”
The Bruins turned a trio of third-quarter takeaways in Colorado territory into 17 points, starting with a field goal after a fourth-down stop at the Buffaloes 31.
After a strip-sack and fumble recovery, UCLA went up 38-10 on Thompson-Robinson’s 2-yard pass to Colson Yankoff and his backup, Ethan Garbers, threw a 3-yard TD pass to Yankoff following Carl Jones Jr.’s interception at the Colorado 39.
Thompson-Robinson finished 19 of 23 for 234 yards, two TDs and no turnovers, and Charbonnet’s day was done after he rushed for 104 yards and three TDs on just nine carries.
The loss capped a difficult week for the Buffaloes and their third-year head coach whose team suffered through a brutal non-conference schedule that led to athletic director Rick George issuing a statement hoping to quell fans’ frustration.
“I want our fan base to understand we’re putting in a lot of work and effort,” Dorrell said. “Some of it is just youth. I hate to use that as an excuse, but they have to learn.”
UCLA outside linebacker Gabriel Murphy was ejected for targeting in the first quarter when he speared McCown in the chest, causing the freshman QB’s helmet to go flying.
Bruins DL Jay Toia was helped off on the Bruins’ first defensive drive with an apparent knee injury. Buffaloes ILB Quinn Perry hobbled off with a left leg injury late in the first half. In the second half, Colorado TE Brady Russell injured his left ankle and hopped off the field and WR Chase Sowell got hurt on a punt return.
UCLA is on a roll behind seniors Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet and an opportunistic defense and should start getting some love from Top 25 voters.
Colorado’s offensive struggles continue no matter who’s at quarterback.
UCLA hosts 18th-ranked Washington on Friday night.
Colorado visits Arizona for a prime-timer Saturday night.
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