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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Sefo Liufau threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns as Colorado overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit to beat Massachusetts 41-38 on Saturday.
UMass had turned a 20-14 deficit into a 31-20 lead by scoring 17 points in a span of 2:54 late in the second quarter and early in the third. Then Colorado scored on its next three possessions on a 14-yard run by Christian Powell, and touchdown passes of 70 and 3 yards from Liufau to Nelson Spruce.
Colorado (1-1) survived a scare from the Minutemen (0-2), who dropped to 2-24 since moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2012. The Buffaloes bounced back from a 31-17 loss to Colorado State in which they led most of the way.
Blake Frohnapfel threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns for Massachusetts, which lost its opener to Boston College 30-7.
Colorado made its first trip to the Northeast since Oct. 1, 1977 when it beat Army 31-0. The next two games in the three-game series with Massachusetts are scheduled for Boulder in 2015 and 2021.
UMass was trailing 13-7 when Frohnapfel began connecting with 6-foot-7, 250-pound tight end Jean Sifrin, who became eligible last Monday after transferring from El Camino Junior College in California. A 12-yard touchdown pass and the extra point by Blake Lucas put the Minutemen ahead 14-13 midway through the second quarter.
After Colorado took a 20-14 lead following a 5-yard run by Tony Jones, the Minutemen started at their 30-yard line with 48 seconds left in the half. Frohnapfel led them to the Buffaloes 14 then lofted a pass into the end zone that Sifrin caught as he leaped between two defenders.
Massachusetts added to its 21-20 halftime lead by scoring twice on the first eight plays of the third quarter. Lucas kicked a 34-yard field goal before Randall Jette intercepted Liufau's pass and Jamal Wilson scored on a 2-yard run on the next play for a 31-20 advantage.
The Colorado comeback began with Powell's touchdown before Liufau found his favorite receiver for two touchdowns.
Spruce, who caught 10 passes for a career-high 145 yards, put the Buffaloes ahead to stay, 34-31, when he caught a 40-yard pass and ran the final 30 yards up the right sideline to score with 4:24 left in the third quarter.
His 3-yard touchdown catch gave Colorado a 10-point lead and UMass finished the scoring with a 6-yard run by Marken Michel with 2:55 left.
Liufau completed 26 of 42 passes, while Frohnapfel was 20 for 38.
The 38 points were more than the Minutemen had in losing their first five games last season when they were outscored 158-35.
Only 10,227 spectators attended the game played 90 miles southeast of the UMass campus in Amherst. The Minutemen are playing three home games each at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst.