BOULDER – Colorado didn’t think they’d win in a walk.
They didn’t think they’d lose to a walk-on, either.
Edgar Castaneda’s 30-yard field goal as time expired gave Sacramento State a stunning 30-28 win over Colorado on Saturday – and earned him a scholarship in the process.
The Buffaloes (0-2) simply earned another hard-luck loss to a Football Championship Subdivision-level opponent. They also lost to Montana State at home in 2006 and edged Eastern Washington by a touchdown two years later.
“I did not come into this game feeling like we were going to dominate,” Colorado coach Jon Embree said. “I came into this game thinking it was going to be a football game that we were going to have to fight and win.
“It doesn’t matter who it is; it’s tough to lose, period. It’s never fun or easy when you lose.”
For the second consecutive game, the Buffaloes let a fourth-quarter lead slip away after in-state rival Colorado State rallied to beat them last week.
Colorado seemed in control, with possession and leading 28-27 with 4:42 left. But freshman fullback Christian Powell, who ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns, was stuffed on third-and-3, forcing a punt.
The Hornets got the ball at their own 15 with 2:26 left and marched downfield for the game-winner by Castaneda, after which wide receiver Austin Dotson did a series of backflips as his teammates swarmed the field.
Castaneda, a walk-on, joined the Hornets after helping City College of San Francisco win the junior college national championship last season, but he was paying his own way until Saturday, when his first game-winner at any level earned him not only a hug from coach Marshall Sperbeck but also an education.
Sperbeck made the announcement during his postgame speech in the Hornets’ locker room.
The Hornets (1-1) also left Boulder with a $460,000 paycheck after a stunning victory at a Pac-12 stadium for the second consecutive season. They upset Oregon State 29-28 in overtime in last year’s opener.
“They came out here with the mindset there was nothing to lose,” Colorado defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe said. “This was not a game they were supposed to win, and they came out here and gave it their all.
“No disrespect to the Sacramento State offense, but they’re nowhere near our offense. For them to go out there and do what they did to us (Saturday), it’s embarrassing.”
Sophomore Garrett Safron threw for a career-best 312 yards on 25 of 37 passing for the Hornets. On the game-winning drive, he completed four passes totaling 53 yards and his receivers drew pass interference penalties on his two other throws, accounting for another 15 yards, as the Hornets reached the Colorado 17.
From there, the Hornets ran three times before calling timeout with 1 second left for Castaneda, who also was good from 28 and 31 yards.
Morris Norrise caught seven passes for 104 yards for Sacramento State, and Chris Broadnax had five catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
After getting just one carry in a loss to CSU last week, Powell burst up the middle on his second carry Saturday for a 64-yard touchdown, then added a pair of 1-yard scores.
Down 14-0, the Hornets got a pair of touchdown throws from Safron and a 2-yard touchdown run by A.J. Ellis to take a 21-14 lead. The Buffs tied it on Jordan Webb’s 9-yard touchdown toss to Kyle Slavin.
Powell’s third touchdown put the Buffs ahead 28-24 in the third quarter after Castaneda’s 28-yard field goal gave Sacramento State a 24-21 halftime lead.
Castaneda’s 31-yarder pulled the Hornets to 28-27 with 12 minutes left. The teams exchanged punts on the next five possessions before the Hornets got one last chance and went 77 yards in nine plays.