(UW Athletics release)
BOISE, Idaho – The Wyoming Cowboys were clicking on all cylinders on Friday forcing a school record eight turnovers and scoring 37 points, the most in a Bowl Game in UW history, in a 37-14 win over Central Michigan in the 21st Annual Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
Junior quarterback Josh Allen was named the Most Valuable Player tossing three first quarter touchdowns. After the contest, Allen declared for the NFL Draft in front of the Cowboy faithful.
“First of all thanks for the hospitality our team has received here in Boise,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said. “It was a great win for us and put our team in a great position moving forward.”
Allen finished the game 11-of-19 for 154 yards with three touchdowns. He opened the contest going 6-of-7 for 106 yards and three touchdowns in the opening quarter. Allen finishes his career ranking eighth in total yards at UW and eighth in career passing yards and fourth in total touchdowns with 57.
The Pokes finished the game as the current national leaders in turnovers this season with 38 passing Central Michigan, who lead the nation heading into the contest. The eight turnovers was a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl record.
“We have been productive in takeaways this season and today was exceptional,” Bohl said. “This team has been remarkable with takeaways and today topped it off.”
Along with the eight turnovers, UW set a season-high with five sacks. Sophomore linebacker Logan Wilson added a team-high nine tackles with an interception and a forced fumble. Junior defensive end Carl Granderson recorded five tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan tied a career-high with two sacks.
The Pokes held Central Michigan to 18 yards rushing and 364 yards of total offense. The Pokes recorded 275 yards of offense with 154 yards passing and 121 yards rushing. Redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet led UW with 85 rushing yards.
The Pokes got on the board first when Allen tossed a 23-yard strike to freshman wide out Jared Scott. It was Scott’s second catch of the season and second touchdown pass. Allen’s last touchdown pass before his injury was to Scott against Air Force. The Cowboys went five plays for 46 yards after the Pokes defense held the Chips deep in their territory on CMU’s opening possession.
The Pokes added to their lead to make it a 14-0 game at the 4:38 mark of the first quarter when a scrambling Allen found sophomore speedster Austin Conway in the endzone. The Pokes’ second touchdown of the game was set up by a strip sack from senior defensive end Nela Lolohea, his second-straight contest with a forced fumble.
Central Michigan wasted little time responding to UW’s second tally with a 74-yard touchdown pass from Shane Morris to Jonathan Ward. The three play drive made it a 14-7 contest. It was the longest passing play given up by the Pokes this season.
Allen continued to sling it for the Pokes finding sophomore wide receiver C.J. Johnson on a 45-yard hookup for a touchdown a little over a minute after the Chips score to make it a 21-7 game for the most point in a quarter in Potato Bowl history.
The Pokes added to the lead after their second turnover, this time from Wilson inside CMU territory. Sophomore Cooper Rothe connected on a 27-yard field goal to make it a 24-7 game to open the second quarter. Rothe Later added a 28-yarder to make it a 27-7 contest at the half.
The Pokes opened the second half with yet another interception for their fifth takeaway of the game. This time Tyler Hall recorded the pick. The Pokes would run 11-plays on the drive for 61 yards setting up a 20-yard field goal by Rothe to make it a 30-7 game with 5:15 left in the third quarter.
Central Michigan answered the Pokes field goal with a seven play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a touchdown from Ward from three yards out making it a 30-14 game with 3:08 remaining.
The Pokes added to the lead later with a 58-yard fumble returned for a touchdown by Granderson. It was the sixth turnover of the game and marked the second time a Pokes’ defensive end has recorded a touchdown. Ghaifan forced the fumble on the stunt play, as it was the second forced fumble of the season for the defensive tackle. The touchdown gave UW a 37-14 lead with 11:23 left in the game.
The Cowboys added turnovers late with a fumble recovery from senior linebacker Jalen Ortiz and an interception by junior safety Marcus Epps.
The Pokes finished the season with an 8-5 record for back-to-back eight win seasons under head coach Craig Bohl