When a football team goes into the fire of Folsom Field, most of them tuck their tail and get left in the mud.
The Bears went into the fire and threw some punches of their own Saturday afternoon in Boulder. They came up short and lost at 41-21 to University of Colorado Boulder, putting UNC at 1-1 heading into Big Sky play.
“When you come play a Pac-12 team and you start three freshmen on the offensive line, and you can throw for what should have been four touchdowns you cannot be disappointed,” coach Earnest Collins said. “They grew up today.”
UNC entered the game facing a team that has only given three points in each of their first two games. Junior quarterback Jacob Knipp went 19-for-34 with three touchdowns and an interception.
“You take the good and the bad, so we are going to watch film tomorrow,” Knipp said. “We will take the good and learn from the bad so that we can carry it over to conference play.”
When Knipp needed the big play, junior wide receiver Alex Wesley answered the call. Wesley’s speed was unmatchable on the outside and racked up two touchdowns and 102 yards.
“We saw what they were going to do against those routes and came out and executed,” Wesley said. “I was able to beat #26 (junior defensive back Isaiah Oliver) on a couple of routes and Knipp put the ball there.”
Leading up the game, UNC knew it had an advantage. Due to Hurricane Irma, the Bears didn’t make the trip to Gainesville to face Florida last weekend.
That meant an extra week to plan for not only one the best offenses in the country, but one of the best running backs, senior Phillip Lindsay.
Lindsay tracked 152 yards and a touchdown, but none of the explosive players were accustomed to seeing that from him.
Once UNC settled down in the second quarter, they kept CU behind the chains. The pressure of the defensive line forced CU sophomore quarterback Steven Montez into some early throws and eventually into the arms of senior safety Stone Kane who returned an interception 44-yards late in the second quarter to stall the Buffs and send the game into halftime at 28-14
The pressure in the second half became a bit much for UNC players.
Colorado got what they wanted on offense, but the Bears defense still only allowed 13 points. Junior defensive guard Keifer Glau led the defense with 10 total tackles.
Phillip Lindsay’s brother was on the field tonight, but not with the Buffs. The Bears had their own in redshirt, junior running back Zachary Lindsay.
He wasn’t focused on the family reunion, but after the game it was all smiles between the brothers.
The Bears will be in their backyard at 1 p.m. Saturday to face the Idaho State Bengals at Nottingham.