ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Senior Nico Evans and redshirt freshman Xazavian Valladay combined for 334 rushing yards to lead the Cowboys (6-6 overall, 4-2 MW) past New Mexico, 31-3 on Saturday afternoon in Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. Wyoming is now Bowl Eligible for the third-straight season for the first time since 1997-99.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our football team today, it was a convincing win,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. “Our guys came out with great focus and we play well in all three phases of the game. I thought today was the best we have played all season.”
Senior safety Andrew Wingard finished the contest with five tackles to tie the Mountain West record of 454 career tackles. He tied New Mexico’s Carmen Messina, who played from 2008-11.
The Lobos were held to a season-low 83 yards. New Mexico rushed for a season-low 44 yards and were held to a season-low three yards receiving. It was statically the best day for the Pokes defensively in terms of yards allowed.
Wyoming amassed 366 rushing yards on the afternoon and held the Lobos to only 83 yards, which was a season-low allowed by the Pokes. The 366 rushing yards was the second most this season following having over 400 yards against San Jose State.
“Our offensive line did a great job man on man and the rushers found the creases.” Bohl said. “We felt we had good matchups with our guys up front. Both runners did a great job. We exposed some things on their blitzes that helped.”
It was a career-high in rushing yards for Valladay. He also added a career-best two touchdowns. Evans rushed for 142 yards for the game along with a rushing score. It was the fourth time this season that Wyoming had two rushers each go for over 100 yards rushing.
Wyoming was led defensively by Logan Wilson with six tackles. Wingard added five stps including a tackle for loss on the Lobo’s first drive. Senior Carl Granderson added five solo stop and a sack. Wyoming had four sacks on the day, as they tied a season high.
The Pokes got on the board first on their opening drive of the game. Valladay found paydirt on a 21-yard touchdown for the tally. The drive saw the Pokes rush for 75-yards on six plays. Evans set up the touchdown by Valladay with a 37-yard gallop.
The Pokes added to the lead in the second quarter to make it a 14-0 contest. Once again using the rushing game, Evans found the endzone on a 30-yard rush for his eighth touchdown of the season. Wyoming drove 90 yards on 13 plays taking just under seven minutes off the clock. It was the longest scoring drive of the season in terms of yards.
The Lobos added a field goal late in the half for a 14-3 game. The field goal was set up by a dropped snap on the Cowboy punt that gave New Mexico the ball on the Wyoming 31 yard line. UNM kicker Andrew Shelley connected on the 25-yard attempt. The Poke defense held strong as the Lobos threated inside the 10-yard line.
Wyoming took the 14-3 lead into the break, as the Cowboys recorded 167 rushing yards in the first half. The defense held the Lobos to 42 yards of total offense.
Wyoming added to the lead in the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal from Cooper Rothe with five minutes left in the frame. It was his 16th field goal of the season. The points were set up by a 43-yard scamper from Valladay.
Wyoming added a touchdown in the early stages of the fourth quarter on an option run from Ayden Eberhardt to Austin Conway for 11 yards. Vander Waal set up the score with a 19-run, as the Pokes went 46 yards on six plays.
Valladay made it a 31-3 contest with his second rushing touchdown of the game with 9:24 left in the game. This time Valladay scored from 20-yards out, as the Pokes drove 65 yards on only four plays.
The Pokes finished the contest by pulling the senior defenders to a huge ovation by the Cowboy faithful that made the trip. It marked the fourth-straight win by the Cowboys, as Wyoming has scored 24 or more points in all of those games.