BOULDER, COLORADO (Tucson News Now) - A healthy Khalil Tate is a dangerous thing for opponents.
Tate, a back-up who had been nursing a shoulder injury since the season opener, rushed for 327 yards, an FBS record for a quarterback, and accounted for five touchdowns to help Arizona hold off Colorado 45-42 on Saturday night.
"We didn't even know his number, to be quite honest," Colorado defensive back Ryan Moeller said.
The Buffaloes certainly do now.
"This was a pretty special performance," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Khalil and the running game kind of saved us, for sure."
The elusive Tate had TD runs of 58, 28, 47 and 75 yards. He also threw for 142 yards, including a 13-yard TD pass to Shun Brown, as the Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) won at Folsom Field for a third straight time on a night when both offenses gained more than 500 yards.
The sophomore from California entered the game early in the first quarter when starter Brandon Dawkins went down with an injury.
On the opening possession, Dawkins ran for a short gain and was hit by a host of Colorado defenders. Dawkins was driven into the Buffs' bench and seemed unsteady as he walked back to the sideline.
The nature of his injury was unclear but Tate came in and made an immediate impact.
Tate was hardly touched all night. He broke the record by a QB on his final run on the evening - a 31-yard scamper that also sealed the win. The mark was held by Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, who gained 321 yards rushing on Nov. 26, 2013.
What's more, it was the second-most ever in Arizona history. The Wildcats' record for yards rushing in a game is held by Ka'Deem Carey, who gained 366 in 2012 against Colorado. Tate averaged 23.4 yards per carry.
Phillip Lindsay sparked the offense for Colorado (3-3, 0-3) with a career-high 281 yards rushing on a school-record 41 carries and three touchdowns.
Colorado was its own worst enemy in dropping a third straight conference game. The Buffaloes committed 12 penalties for 110 yards, including two late hits.
Despite all that, Colorado trailed 45-42 after Lindsay's 11-yard TD run with 5:04 remaining. But Tate picked up a big third-down conversion with his arm - an 8-yard strike to Bryce Wolma - and then clinched the game with his long third-down run with just over a minute remaining.
Despite the loss, it was a memorable night for Lindsay, who became the school's career leader in all-purpose yards with a run in the third quarter. He surpassed Rodney Stewart's mark of 4,828 yards set from 2008-11.
James Stefanou's 50-yard attempt to end the first half curved wide left. The miss snapped a streak of nine straight field goals for the 30-year-old freshman from Australia. The school record of 10 was set by Mason Crosby.
Arizona: Tate or Dawkins? Dawkins or Tate? Doesn't seem much of a dilemma, given the play of Tate. "I don't mind you asking that," Rodriguez said. "Khalil played pretty well today."
Colorado: The Buffaloes have a steep climb ahead for any fleeting shot at defending their Pac-12 South crown.
Colorado dominated the time of possession, 35:54 to 24:06 ... Colorado QB Steven Montez threw three TD passes.
Arizona: Hosts UCLA, which has won five straight in the series. The Bruins are 24-15-2 all-time against the Wildcats.
Colorado: Travels to Oregon State. The Beavers lead the series 5-4.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.