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“I live for moments like this”: CU Buffs Laviska Shenault shows no quit in do-or-die win over Stanford

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BOULDER — It hurt every time he made a cut.

But the CU Buffs needed a yard — 1 yard — with the ball on the Stanford 34-yard line, the game tied at 13 and 1: 05 left at Folsom Field on Saturday.

Knee injury or not, Laviska Shenault was thinking just one thing: “Give me the ball.”

Quarterback Steven Montez obliged, putting the ball in the junior wideout’s belly on a fly sweep. A couple of busted tackles and 5 yards later, and Shenault was carrying three Stanford tacklers for a critical gain and first down.

“I live for moments like this,”  Shenault said.

The Buffs (4-6) live, too, thanks to their 6-foot-2, 220-pound never-say-die star.

Montez found K.D. Nixon for a 12-yard reception on the very next play, and freshman kicker Evan Price booted a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give CU a 16-13 win that kept its slim bowl hopes alive.

“Big time players make big-time plays in crunchtime,” CU coach Mel Tucker said of Shenault’s run. “And that’s what that was.”

In a season riddled with “setbacks,” Shenault has often been the weapon the Buffs turn to only when they absolutely need a play — when he’s available.

He missed most of the team’s win at Arizona State in Week 4 after straining a core muscle. He has spent the rest of the season managing that and other injuries that have piled up along the way.

CU announced Shenault was questionable to return at the start of the second half after he injured his knee running over a Stanford tackler on the Buffs’ final drive of the second quarter. One play into CU’s first drive of the third quarter, however, Shenault was back on the field and grabbing his seventh reception of the game. He finished with a game-high eight receptions for 91 yards.

“I’ve said it every week, he’s a tough kid and he cares about this team and he’s going to give us what he’s got,” Tucker said. “He’s going to show up for us, and that (fourth-down play) was a prime example.”

In pain throughout, Shenault spent most of the second half operating as a decoy for the Buffs, often lining up opposite Stanford’s shutdown cornerback Paulson Adebo.

He ran a similar fly sweep motion on a fourth-and-short play early in the fourth quarter, but the handoff instead went to Alex Fontenot for a first down. Shenault limped back off the field, and Price’s 23-yard field goal tied the game at 13-all six plays later.

When the day was done and the Buffs had stormed the field in victory, Shenault could only watch from the other end of the sideline, thankful that CU had finally pulled one out.

In a season defined by his willingness to play through pain, Shenault isn’t about to give up.

“I can’t quit now,” Shenault said. “There’s no point in quitting, so I’m going to give my all any chance, any way humanly possible. … I was just raised the right way — keep going, keep pushing.”

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