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Complete game gives Wyoming Cowboys win over San Jose State

Posted at 6:10 PM, Nov 03, 2018
UW Athletics photo

(Wyoming release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Wyoming defense shutout San Jose State in the first half and forced four three-and-outs in six first-half possessions by the Spartan offense , while the Cowboy offense scored 10 first-half points to take a 10-0 lead into halftime on way to a 24-9 home win.

Wyoming’s offense generated a season high 475 yards of total offense, including 424 rushing yards and 51 passing. It marked the second straight week that UW had over 400 yards of total offense. The Cowboys had 407 yards a week ago at Colorado State. The 424 rushing yards vs. SJSU were the most by the Cowboys since Sept. 12, 2015, when they ran for 430 yards against Eastern Michigan.

San Jose State came into the game averaging 332 yards of total offense per game, with 267 of those yards coming through the air. Wyoming held the Spartans to 244 total yards, and only 173 passing yards. The Pokes shutout of the Spartans in the first half, marked the second consecutive week UW shutout an opponent in the first half and the third time this season (vs. Colorado State on Oct. 26 and at New Mexico State on Aug. 25.)

It was the Cowboys’ second consecutive win of the season and improved Wyoming’s record to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West Conference, with two games remaining in the regular season. San Jose State fell to 1-8, 1-4 in the Mountain West.

“It was a big win and certainly with the conditions, the wind and snow, it turned it into a game that we needed to leverage our running ability,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl. “It (running the ball) ate time off the clock, kept our defense fresh and had a big impact in the game.

“On the flip side, I felt our defense did a phenomenal job certainly in the first half, had complete control, so between the three and outs and the offense staying on the field, it kept them (our defense) fresh.

“When we needed some juice at the end of the game, the defense was up to the task. The other factor was time of possession. Looking at the stat sheet, we had the ball for 36 minutes. When you do that and score points the odds of winning go up.

“It was an exciting win for our football team. Every win you get late in the year is important. We will utilize our upcoming bye week well between practice and rest, plus some recruiting. We will get ready for Air Force (in two weeks). We are glad to be playing them at War Memorial Stadium.

“I wanted to say a big thanks (to the fans who were here today). I know that we have listeners from all over the state and sometimes the weather is not always great, but wanted to say thanks to the student body and the fans who came today. They were Cowboy Tough and added an element to the game.”

Wyoming senior running back Nico Evans became only the 10th Cowboy in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. He ended the game with 1,166 rushing yards on the year. He now ranks No. 6 on the UW single-season rushing list. It was his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season, with 187 yards on the day.

For the third consecutive game, Evans and true freshman quarterback Sean Chambers each rushed for 100 yards or more. Chambers had a personal best 129 rushing yards against SJSU. He has now rushed for 100 yards in each of Wyoming’s last three consecutive games, which is also every game of his Wyoming career. Both Evans and Chambers had long touchdown runs in the game. Evans broke a 58-yard TD run in the second quarter, while Chambers had a 64-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.

Defensively, senior strong safety Andrew Wingard moved into second place on the Mountain West Conference career tackle list. With five tackles against San Jose State, Wingard improved his career total to 436, passing former UNLV Rebel Adam Seward (433 career tackles from 2001-04) for second place. He is within 18 tackles of MW record holder Carmen Messina of New Mexico, who had 454 career tackles from 2008-11. Wingard is only four tackles away from tying former Wyoming great Jim Talich (440 tackles from 1994-97) for second place in Wyoming school history.

Cowboy junior linebacker Logan Wilson recorded his third consecutive double-figure tackle game. He led the Cowboys with 10 tackles versus the Spartans. The previous two weeks, he had 12 tackles at Colorado State and 11 versus Utah State. Wilson leads the Cowboys in tackles this season, with 89.

Four Spartans recorded double-figure tackles for the game. Linebackers Jamal Scott and Ethan Aguayo had 15 and 14 tackles, respectively, while free safety Jonathan Lenard Jr. was credited with 11, and strong safety Tre Webb had 10.

Tight ends were featured by both teams offensive attacks. SJSU’s Josh Oliver led all receivers with five receptions for 66 yards. Wyoming senior tight end Austin Fort had two catches for 28 yards, including a 20-yard TD reception, with 1:09 remaining in the game to seal the win. Fellow senior UW tight end Tyree Mayfield had one catch for 13 yards.

On the opening drive of the game, Wyoming took the ball 66 yards in nine plays, taking 4:24 off the clock and ended the drive with a 26-yard field goal by Cowboy place-kicker Cooper Rothe to give the Pokes a 3-0 lead. It improved Rothe’s field-goal total to a perfect 15 of 15 for the season and extended his streak to 18 in a row, dating back to the 2017 season. That was the longest current streak in the country.

Wyoming’s defense forced a three-and-out on San Jose State’s first possession of the game, and took over at its own 34-yard line following a 47-yard punt by SJSU’s Bryce Crawford.

The first play of Wyoming’s second possession saw Cowboy running back Evans run for five yards and reach the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The Pokes proceeded to drive 40 yards on its second possession, taking the ball down to the San Jose State 26-yard line to set up a 43-yard field-goal attempt by Rothe. A high snap on the kick attempt contributed to Rothe missing the kick wide right for his first miss of the season, and breaking his nation’s best streak of 18 made field goals. The last time Rothe had missed a field goal was in the final regular-season game of the 2017 season on a 49-yard attempt that oddly enough came against the San Jose State Spartans.

The Cowboy defense forced a second consecutive three-and-out by the Spartans, and started its third possession at its own 29-yard line. Facing a fourth and three at its own 36-yard line, Wyoming punter Dontae Crow dropped the snap from center, hustled to pick up the ball and then ran for six yards to gain a first down on the final play of the first quarter.

On the very next play to start the second quarter, Wyoming scored its first touchdown of the game when Evans broke loose for a 58-yard TD run to extend the Cowboys’ lead to 10-0.

The Wyoming defense would force San Jose State’s offense into its third consecutive three-and-out on the ensuing possession and took over at the Wyoming 46-yard line. The Pokes put together another excellent drive, highlighted by a 13-yard pass from Chambers to Mayfield and a 19-yard jet sweep by wide receiver Austin Conway. But on a first and 10 from the SJSU 12-yard line, Chambers rushed up the middle for six yards but Spartan defensive tackle Boogie Roberts knocked the ball out of Chambers’ hands and SJSU free safety Lenard recovered at the San Jose State one-yard line.

UW would later force one more three-and-out, making it four three-and-outs in six SJSU possessions in the first half. Neither the Cowboys nor the Spartans could mount another scoring drive in the half, and Wyoming held a 10-0 halftime lead.

San Jose State received the opening kickoff of the second half, and the Spartans came out firing. Quarterback Josh Love connected with tight end Oliver for an 18-yard completion on the first play of the third quarter. Love would later complete passes of: 12 yards to tight end Brett Foley and 11 yards to Oliver, while SJSU running back Tyler Nevens would carry four times for a combined 22 yards to move the ball down to the Wyoming nine-yard line. On fourth and five from the UW nine, Spartan place-kicker Bryce Crawford came in and kicked a 26-yard field goal to cut the Wyoming lead to 10-3.

The Cowboys responded five plays later when Chambers exploded for a 64-yard TD run to expand Wyoming’s lead to 17-3. That is where the score would remain at the end of the third quarter.

Each team had one more scoring drive in them. San Jose State would benefit from a fumble by Cowboy running back Evans on Wyoming’s first drive of the fourth quarter. On a first down and 10 play from the Wyoming 31-yard line, Evans rushed for four yards, but SJSU safety Lenard forced the fumble and it was recovered by Spartan linebacker Osuna at the Wyoming 38-yard line. It would take San Jose State only five plays to convert the turnover into points. Love would connect with wide receiver Tre Walker on a 17-yard TD pass to cut the Wyoming lead to 17-9. A bad snap on the next play resulted in a failed point-after-touchdown attempt by the Spartans.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Cowboys took over at their own 25-yard line with 8:48 left in the game. The Wyoming offense would proceed to run 13 consecutive running plays, driving down to the SJSU 20-yard line. On second down and nine from the 20, Chambers would throw the only pass of the drive, connecting with tight end Fort for 20 yards and the game-clinching TD with only 1:03 remaining in the game.

The Cowboy defense limited San Jose State to only 24 yards on its final possession as time ran out, and Wyoming had secured a 24-9 victory.

The Cowboys have a bye next week. Wyoming will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 17 when they will host the Air Force Falcons. The game time for that contest should be released by ESPN Networks on Monday, Nov. 5.