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No. 10 Washington 17, Colorado 14
Associated Press


BOULDER, Colo. -- Rick Neuheisel returned to Boulder at the center of a firestorm and emerged without a singe.

Marques Tuiasosopo
Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo led the Huskies on two fourth quarter TDs.
Marques Tuiasosopo rallied Neuheisel's Washington team to two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and the 10th-ranked Huskies held off Colorado 17-14 on Saturday.

The target of wrath from Colorado players, university officials and fans when he left the school to take a $1 million-a-year job at Washington 20 months ago, Neuheisel made a triumphant return on Saturday. And he refused to gloat about it afterward.

"Congratulations to Colorado for an unbelievably hard-fought game," Neuheisel said. "They were inspired; we knew they would be. I've said all along they have good character in the program, and I thought they were extremely well coached. I wish them nothing but the best.

"This is a happy day, more than just the fact that we found a way to win. It's happy in that it's behind me and we can move on with our lives. Colorado can go with (coach) Gary Barnett to hopefully win Big 12 titles, and I can be a Colorado fan without having to worry about playing them and what people say and all of those things. It's water under the bridge."

Washington (3-0) trailed 7-3 until Willie Hurst ran 2 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter, capping a 63-yard drive.

When Colorado (0-3) followed with one of its many ineffective offensive possessions and punted, Washington went 69 yards in eight plays for the clinching touchdown.

Tuiasosopo, who made key third-down plays all afternoon, scrambled for a 13-yard gain on third-and-9. He passed 15 yards to tight end Jerramy Stevens, then hit Wilbur Hooks on a 24-yard scoring pass with 8:33 left for a 17-7 lead.

Colorado, without an offensive score to that point, marched 97 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. Bobby Pesavento, making his first start after two solid performances in relief of Zac Colvin, passed 19 yards to Javon Green for the score with 3:46 remaining. Green kept the drive alive with a one-handed, 53-yard reception to the Huskies' 12-yard line.

Washington was unable to run out the clock and kicked the ball back to Colorado with 57 seconds left. A pass-interference penalty moved the ball to near midfield, but receiver Eric McCready, on a short reception, was stripped of the ball by cornerback Anthony Vontoure and defensive tackle Larry Tripplett recovered. Tripplett also had three sacks.

Neuheisel, who coached the Buffaloes for four seasons (1995-98), departed for Washington at the height of recruiting season in January 1999, creating considerable ill will. Colorado officials accused him of contacting Buff players, attempting to entice them to Washington -- a charge that Neuheisel denied.

Colorado's hopes for revenge against Neuheisel were thwarted last season when the Huskies beat Colorado 31-24 in Seattle. This year, CU players almost universally said they had forgiven Neuheisel, even if many fans hadn't.

"It wasn't an emotionally difficult game," said Green, a senior. "Neuheisel wasn't playing on the field. We were just trying to beat his team. It would have been special just to beat a ranked team. It would have been a sweet taste to win, but we don't have that taste yet."

Barnett said Tuiasosopo "hurt us on scrambles, and their tight end made some great catches. They made plays when they had to make them, and we didn't."

Freshman cornerback Phil Jackson returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown as Colorado, despite being outgained 194-107 in the first half, led 7-3 at halftime.

Washington drove inside the Colorado 10 on its first two series but managed only a field goal.

On the Huskies' first series, Tuiasosopo completed back-to-back 22-yard passes to Justin Robbins and Todd Elstrom -- the first on third-and-15 -- and tailback Paul Arnold ran 17 yards up the middle to the Colorado 7. But Arnold fumbled on the next play when hit by cornerback Donald Strickland, and Jackson recovered at the 1.

After a punt, Washington took possession near midfield. Tuiasosopo scrambled for 10 yards on third-and-10, and Arnold ran 16 yards with a delayed pitchout. The drive stalled at the 4, however, and John Anderson kicked a 22-yard field goal with 56 seconds left in the half.

Tuiasosopo was intercepted twice in the second quarter. The first theft, by safety Michael Lewis, thwarted a Washington drive that had reached Colorado's 35.

Three minutes later, Tuiasosopo rolled right but Jackson stepped in front of a receiver and returned the interception for a TD with 1:37 left in the half.

Colorado's offense didn't get past the Washington 38 in the half. The only serious scoring threat came when Green got behind the secondary but dropped Pesavento's 43-yard pass at the goal line. Tuiasosopo hit a wide-open Stevens for 32 yards late in the third quarter to set up Hurst's score.

The Buffaloes, who had won their previous 12 home openers, were victimized by penalties and dropped passes and had only 243 total yards compared to Washington's 405. Pesavento was sacked six times.

 Jerramy Stevens hauls in a 32-yard pass from Marques Tuiasosopo. (Courtesy ABC)
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 The Buffs' Javon Green hauls in Bobby Pesavento's pass with just one hand. (Courtesy ABC)
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 Marques Tuiasosopo passes 24 yards to Wilbur Hooks for a TD.(Courtesy ABC)
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 Willie Hurst scores on a two-yard run. (Courtesy ABC)
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 Phil Jackson recovers a Paul Arnold fumble to stop Washington's drive inside the five. (Courtesy ABC)
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 Phil Jackson picks off Marques Tuiasosopo, and returns it 28 yards for a TD. (Courtesy ABC)
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 Rick Neuheisel says Satuday was an emotional game.
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 Marques Tuiasosopo says Washington was able to win despite its mistakes.
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