LARAMIE, Wyo. – There have been many memorable games in the 109-year history of “The Border War” and on Saturday night, another memory was made as the Wyoming Cowboys came from behind to capture a 16-13 victory in a game played in a snowstorm in Laramie.
With a little over seven minutes to go in the game, Colorado State held a 13-9 lead and had the ball at the Wyoming 35-yard line, facing a 4th down and six. The Rams decided to go for it on fourth down, but Wyoming’s defense came up with a huge stop as defensive end Carl Granderson and nose tackle Javaree Jackson tackled running back Rashaad Boddie two yards short of the first down at the UW 31-yard line.
The Cowboys took possession of the ball with 7:09 remaining and facing the challenge of going 69 yards to take the lead. Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen hit fullback Drew Van Maanen for a 17-yard gain on first down, moving the ball to the Wyoming 48. Redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet, who did not have a carry entering the fourth quarter, was inserted into the lineup and on his first carry gained 16 yards to the CSU 36-yard line. At the end of the run, Colorado State was called for a face-mask penalty, moving the ball to the Colorado State 21. Overstreet would gain four and three yards on the next two plays. On a third and three from the CSU 14, Allen carried for five yards to make it first and goal from the nine. Allen would keep the ball on the next play and gain six down to the three-yard line. Overstreet would carry the last three yards on the seventh play of the drive, to give Wyoming its only lead of the game at 15-13. Cowboy place-kicker Cooper Rothe hit the extra point to make it 16-13, with 4:21 left in the game.
Ram wide receiver Detrich Clark caught the kickoff at the CSU eight-yard line and was tackled at the 22 by Cowboy safety Alijah Halliburton. After an incomplete pass on first down, Cowboy defensive end Kevin Prosser tackled running back Dalyn Dawkins for only a two-yard gain at the 24 on second down. A five-yard false start on CSU the following play pushed the ball back to the 19-yard line, making it third and 13. Ram quarterback Nick Stevens gained six yards on a running play out to the 25. Facing a fourth down and seven, CSU chose to punt. Cowboy wide receiver Austin Conway caught the ball at the Wyoming 23 and returned it four yards to the 27, with 2:38 remaining in the game.
The final drive would see a steady combination of Overstreet and Allen. Overstreet carried for five yards on first down. CSU called the first of its remaining two timeouts. Allen then carried for four, and the Rams called their final remaining timeout at the 2:25 mark. With a third and one from the Wyoming 36, Allen fought for two yards and a first down. After runs of seven and five yards and another first down at the Cowboy 45, Allen was able to kneel down on the final two plays as Wyoming fans rushed the field.
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl was asked after the game about his defense’s stop on big fourth down attempt by CSU in the fourth quarter and the following drive by the Cowboy offense to take the lead.
“I am certainly proud of the team on that response on the drive down the field,” said Bohl. “I was proud of Drew Van Maanen coming up with a big catch, and he had not only one stinger but two on the play. It was a remarkable game.
“You talk about the will and desire of this football team. Our culture has changed in the locker room and those guys do everything they can to win a football game the right way. This was a classic Wyoming Cowboy win.”
Bohl was asked if he thought the weather had an effect on the game.
“We talked about weather in our pregame meal,” said Bohl. “I was a young coach, and I once heard Woody Hayes, the old Ohio State coach, say that if you are going to play in the North Atlantic then practice in the North Atlantic. If you are going to play in Wyoming you have to train in Wyoming. That’s one of the reasons we go outside and mix it up in all these elements. This was a classic football game. Hats off to Colorado State, they played hard and so did we.”
The victory meant a great deal to Allen, as was evident when he addressed the media at the postgame press conference.
“This is a game that will be talked about for a long time. I’m just blessed to be a part of this and a part of this team,” said the junior QB. “We are a resilient team. We’ve learned a lot over the course of the season, and we will continue to grow and learn. I’m extremely proud of this team.”
Asked how he felt when the Cowboy defense stopped CSU on the fourth down play, Allen said, “I had a good feeling after the first couple of plays. The previous drive when I fumbled, I felt that we were establishing something good on the ground. I was angry that I made that mistake, but our defense kept us in it and I was able to redeem myself. I can’t thank the coaches enough for putting me in good positions. Our line played very well, the running backs played well, so it took all 22 tonight.”
And what did he have to say about his fellow offensive captain, senior fullback Van Maanen, who made the key catch on the scoring drive?
“That catch was the catalyst of that drive,” said Allen. “People understand who he is and what he does. He is an emotional leader on this team, a captain. He’s going to put everything he has on the line for this team.”
Wyoming ended the game with 294 yards of total offense to Colorado State’s 345. There was only one turnover in the game — on Allen’s fourth-quarter fumble. It was the first time this season that Wyoming won a game without winning the turnover battle. The Cowboy defense held CSU 154 yards under its league-leading 499.0 yards of total offense entering the game, and held the Rams to only 13 points — 20 points under its season scoring average of 33.2.
The victory by the Cowboys gave them their second consecutive win over the Rams and gave UW a two-game lead in the Bronze Boot portion of the series, now leading 26-24. The overall series between the two teams now stands at 46 wins for the Cowboys, 58 for CSU and five ties.
The first quarter would see the defenses for both teams control the game, as Wyoming would end the quarter with 58 yards of total offense and Colorado State would manage only 87 yards. The only points scored were on a 41-yard field goal by the Rams’ Wyatt Bryan to cap off a nine-play, 52-yard drive.
Wyoming would begin its final drive of the first quarter on its own 31-yard line. The Pokes would drive down to the CSU 23-yard line to end the opening quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Allen hit running back Trey Woods for a 21-yard pass play down to the two-yard line. Woods would gain one yard on first and goal from the two. Allen would then attempt a pass on second down that went off the hands of tight end Tyree Mayfield in the end zone. A pitch play from Allen to Woods on third and goal would end up in a seven-yard loss. Cowboy place-kicker Cooper Rothe came in and booted a 25-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 13:10 left in the second quarter.
Colorado State would answer with a 12-play, 75-yard drive on its next possession. CSU running back Dawkins would rush for 31 yards on five carries during the drive. Stevens would connect with tight end Dalton Fackrell on a 28-yard pass from the Wyoming 40-yard line, taking the ball down to the UW 12. Three plays later, Stevens would carry the ball in from the three-yard line for a touchdown to give the Rams a 10-3 lead, with 6:50 remaining.
Later in the quarter with exactly 1:00 minute remaining, Wyoming took possession at its own 20-yard line after a CSU punt went into the end zone. Allen rushed for 18 yards on first down. Following an incompletion and a one-yard run by Allen, he hit wide receiver C.J. Johnson on a 15-yard pass to the CSU 46-yard line. Wyoming called its final timeout of the half with eight seconds remaining. Colorado State followed that with a timeout of its own. Allen rolled left on the next play and hit Johnson for a gain of 20 yards as Johnson ran out of bounds to stop the clock at the Ram 26-yard line, with only three seconds remaining. Rothe came in and made a 43-yard field goal as time expired, and the half ended with the score 10-6 in favor of CSU.
The second half began with Wyoming taking the opening kickoff and driving 59 yards in nine plays, keyed by a huge 40-yard run from wide receiver Conway. Rothe would kick his third field goal of the game, this one from 32 yards out to pull the Pokes to within one point at 10-9.
Colorado State would have a long 14-play, 44-yard drive that took nine minutes and four seconds off the clock, but stalled at the Wyoming 16-yard line. The Rams lined up to attempt a field goal, but a fumbled snap resulted in the Cowboys tackling CSU’s holder for a loss back at the Wyoming 25. The third quarter ended with the score 10-9.
The Rams would come back to score on their first drive of the fourth quarter, going 69 yards in nine plays as Bryan kicked a 27-yard field goal to extend the Rams’ lead to 13-9.
That would lead to the Wyoming heroics later in the fourth quarter that would result in the Cowboys’ only touchdown of the game for the 16-13 Wyoming win.
Allen ended the game 10 of 20 passing for 138 yards. CSU’s Stevens was held to 8 of 14 passing for 110 yards. Allen was Wyoming’s leading rusher with 60 yards on 12 carries. Overstreet carried seven times, all in the fourth quarter, for 43 yards and one TD. Dawkins led the Rams in rushing with 154 yards on 29 carries. The leading receiver for the Pokes was Conway and Johnson, who each had two catches for 35 yards. CSU’s Michael Gallup, who entered the game leading the nation in receiving with an average of 129.7 yards receiving per game, was held to only four catches for 29 yards. Tight end Fackrell had two receptions for 61 yards. Cowboy linebacker Logan Wilson led the team with a 14 tackles to tie his career high.
Wyoming will go on the road next Saturday to play the Air Force Falcons. Kickoff next Saturday is set for 8:15 p.m. from Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. That game will be televised on ESPNU.