BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Cody Hawkins resigned himself to a day spent on the sideline, watching the new kid command Colorado.
After all, the displaced quarterback didn’t take any reps the last two days of practice, coaching up freshman Tyler Hansen instead.
Hawkins was summoned into the game in the second half to bail out an anemic offense and led the Buffaloes to a 28-24 win over Iowa State on Saturday, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes.
“I just went in, in the second half to see if we could get some things going,” Hawkins said. “Luckily, my guys were making a lot of plays for me.”
The defense of Colorado (5-5, 2-4 Big 12)did its part, too, keeping the Cyclones out of the end zone from inches away as time expired.
Iowa State (2-8, 0-6) simply went to its bread-and-butter play — the option pitch — once too often.
With 3 seconds remaining, the Cyclones tossed it out wide to Alexander Robinson, but he was stuffed by Daniel Dykes and Jimmy Smith for a loss as time ran out.
“Had the ball in my hands, just got to make a play,” said Robinson, who finished with 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Receiver Darius Darks had a chance to score moments before on a fourth down play, but fell down inches from the end zone as he reached low to catch a pass.
“I guess I’ve got to get a little bit better with my awareness, see where I am on the field,” he said. “I was just concentrating on not dropping the ball. I thought I was in.”
The Cyclones’ dropped their eighth straight contest. They’ve also lost 16 in a row on the road.
“It was basically a fourth quarter meltdown,” Cyclones coach Gene Chizik said. “Cody did a nice job in leading his team, there’s no doubt about that. Defensively, we didn’t slow him down.”
Hansen struggled to move the Buffaloes in the first half, completing just 4-of-12 passes for 48 yards and one interception as Colorado tumbled into a 10-0 hole.
Enter Hawkins, who energized the offense, leading the Buffaloes to two quick scores to start the second half.
His favorite target was Scotty McKnight, who caught two touchdown passes.
“We came out playing flat, not like we know how to play,” McKnight said. “We came out with zero points in the first half. That’s ridiculous, that should never happen...I’ll come out and say it — it was embarrassing.”
Hawkins provided a calming presence in the huddle.
“It’s nice to have a familiar face back there. We’ve been through this before,” McKnight said. “Seeing him back in the huddle you kind of get the feel everything is under control.”
Now if only Colorado felt as comfortable about its kicking game.
Jameson Davis missed two field goals in the first quarter, before leaving with a strained knee. Aric Goodman also had an extra point blocked.
The Buffaloes have misconnected on nine of their last 10 field goal attempts, dating back to Goodman’s game-winning field goal in overtime against West Virginia.
Goodman missed seven in a row before being replaced by Davis last weekend. Davis pushed a 38-yard attempt to the left on Colorado’s opening drive Saturday, then sent a 29-yard attempt wide right.
“There’s no question that it’s squirrelly at best,” Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said of his shaky kicking game.
Colorado trailed 24-13 after Robinson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 9:14 remaining, but Cody Hawkins threw a 14-yard strike to Patrick Williams. The Buffaloes converted the 2-point try to make it a 24-21 contest with just over 7 minutes remaining.
Later, Hawkins hit a wide open Cody Crawford in the back of the end zone for the winning score with 1:30 left.
“Cody’s just such a great leader,” Crawford said. “No matter what, he stays positive the entire time.”
The Cyclones have now given up 400 or more yards of offense in seven straight games, the Buffaloes finishing with 422 yards.
Darrell Scott made his first start as he took over for fellow freshman Rodney Stewart, who’s out for the season after fracturing his fibula against Texas A&M; last weekend.
Scott finished with 87 yards on 19 carries.
“We certainly want to get him the ball for two reasons — he is a good player and you want to run the football,” Dan Hawkins said.
As for Colorado’s platoon system at quarterback, it just got a lot more complicated.
“So much of great football and great teams is being able to work through the bumps and hanging in there,” Hawkins said. “You set aside your ego.”