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Gold wins annual Wyoming Cowboys spring game

Posted at 9:19 PM, Apr 27, 2019
Wyoming Cowboys head coach Craig Bohl. (UW Athletics photo)


(Wyoming release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Gold Team, featuring the No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense, captured a 14-9 victory over the Brown Team, made up of the No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense, in Wyoming’s Annual Brown and Gold Spring Game on Saturday.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Chambers helped lead his Gold Team to the win by completing 9 of 16 passes (56.3 percent) for 139 yards, no interceptions and one touchdown, a 19-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver C.J. Johnson. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Vander Waal completed 12 of 25 passes (48.0 percent) for 122 yards, no interceptions and no touchdowns for the Brown Team. Redshirt freshman QB Ryan Marquez completed 1 of 2 passes (50.0 percent) for six yards for the Gold Squad and threw the one interception of the day by either offense.

Leading the way in receiving for the Gold Offense was senior John Okwoli, with four receptions for 26 yards. Junior Ayden Eberhardt had two catches for 53 yards, and Johnson had two catches for 47 yards, including his 19-yard TD reception. The No. 2 offense on the Brown Team saw redshirt freshman wide receiver Wyatt Wieland catch six passes for 70 yards. Also for the Brown offense, redshirt freshman wide receiver Chance Hofer caught two passes for 25 yards. Junior wide receiver Dontae Crow had two receptions for 17 yards and one run of 55 yards on a jet sweep.

In talking about the performance of his receivers, Bohl said, “I thought there were some good things. Rocket (Raghib Ismail Jr.) when he touched the ball he made a couple people miss. I thought Ayden Eberhardt did some good things. Jackson Marcotte (redshirt freshman tight end) we believe has a really bright future. Wyatt Wieland did some good things, as well, and like I said I thought C.J. (Johnson) made a nice play on the touchdown.”

The scoring began for the Gold Team when junior running back Jeff Burroughs scored on a two-yard TD run in the second quarter that was followed by a successful point after touchdown by senior place-kicker Cooper Rothe. Later in the second quarter, redshirt freshman running back Austin Clemetson carried the ball in from one-yard out for the Brown Team, but Rothe missed the extra point and the score was 7-6 in favor of Gold. Later in the second quarter, Chambers and Johnson connected on the 19-yard touchdown pass. Rothe’s extra point gave the Gold Squad a 14-6 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Rothe, who led the nation in field-goal percentage a year ago at 94.0 percent (16 of 17 field goals), connected on a 52-yard attempt for the Brown Team to pull them within five points at 14-9. But their was no scoring the rest of the way and Gold captured the win.

“I thought our quarterbacks did fairly well today,”said head coach Craig Bohl. “I know we had a pick (interception) in there, but I thought they put the ball where they needed to. I thought Sean (Chambers) had a good day. We didn’t operate with our top running backs, but I appreciated the guys who were out there and the effort they gave us.”

Bohl had said earlier in this final week of Spring Practice that he and his staff would be releasing a depth chart next week. But he was asked by media after the Spring Game on Saturday to assess the quarterback competition between redshirt freshman Chambers and sophomore Vander Waal.

“I’m always going to reserve judgment, but I thought he (Chambers) played well today,” said Bohl. “I thought Tyler (Vander Waal) did some good things, but Sean went into this Spring Game number one, and I thought he played pretty well.”

As a follow up to that, Bohl was asked how Chambers passing skills had progressed from last season through Spring Practice.

“We’ve opened up the playbook,” said Bohl. “There were some things we showed today that we hadn’t last year. I think his (Chambers’) accuracy has improved. Certainly last year, both Sean and Tyler were mobile quarterbacks. We did some more drop back game today, which is really a big, big portion of what we do offensively. So much of what we did with Sean last year was play-action pass. I think he’s also understanding more what we’re doing offensively.”

On defense, one area that Bohl had stated he was looking forward to evaluating in the Spring Game was the play of his safety group. The Cowboys lost their two four-year starting safeties Marcus Epps and Andrew Wingard to graduation after last season. Epps was in fact drafted on Saturday in the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings. One of the Cowboy veterans vying to take over at free safety for Epps is junior Braden Smith, who came up with the one interception of Saturday’s Spring Game for the Brown Team. Bohl was asked if Smith had solidified his spot at the top of the free safety position.

“Well, I think so,” said Bohl. “He (Smith) has had a good spring. Both he and Alijah (Halliburton, senior strong safety) have played a lot. We’re going to count on those guys pushing forward. It was nice to see Marcus Epps get drafted today. I was really happy about that when you’re talking about safeties.

“There was some pretty good, aggressive defensive play today. I thought we did some good things defensively. Being an old defensive coach though — C.J. Johnson made a nice catch for a touchdown, but we probably should have made a tackle there. I’ll take a look at that on tape, but we’ve made progress.”

Leading the way defensively on Saturday, was sophomore linebacker Chad Muma, who was credited with seven tackles for the Brown Team. Senior safety Halliburton and senior cornerback Tyler Hall added four tackles each for the Brown. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Mario Mora impressed with four tackles, including 3.0 tackles for losses of 21 yards and 2.0 sacks for 20 yards, also as a member of the Brown Squad. Smith returned his interception for 24 yards and made three tackles.

A highlight on special teams was the performance of senior punter Ryan Galovich. Galovich, who punted for both teams, had a combined 10 punts for a 46.0 average. He placed two punts inside the 20-yard line and had long punts of 57 and 67 yards.

“He (Ryan Galovich) is working on his skill,” said Bohl. “We’ve got our main punter (Tim Zaleski), who is hurt right now. I thought Ryan did a nice job today. Most of his punts were in the 40-yard range with good hang time.”

Injury Update
One player who went down during Saturday’s Brown and Gold Spring Game was sophomore offensive guard Eric Abojei. Bohl was asked if he had any information on the status of Abojei’s injury and if there were any other injuries suffered on Saturday.

“Initially, his knee is a little bit loose,” said Bohl. “They’ll probably scope it on Monday to see exactly what’s in there. I checked at halftime and talked with the doctors. It could be anywhere from a minor deal to something pretty serious.

“A lot of head coaches are no longer doing Spring Games. Some of it is because of depth and some of it is because they don’t want to risk guys getting hurt. However, we think it (Spring Game) is important for the maturation of our football team and to continue to promote our program. I want to say thanks to all the fans who were out here today.”

The Cowboys did suffer a number of injuries during the course of Spring Football this year. Bohl was asked how concerned he was about those injuries and about getting some of those injured players back for fall camp.

“We’re always concerned about injuries, but I think we’re going to get a lot of those guys back and hopefully we’ll have Big E (Eric Abojei) back also.”

The only other injury that Bohl was aware of happening in Saturday’s Spring Game was a pulled groin by senior linebacker Ben Wisdorf.

Former Cowboy Safety Marcus Epps Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday
In addition to Saturday’s Brown and Gold Spring Game, another exciting event took place regarding Wyoming Football. Former Cowboy safety Marcus Epps was selected as the 19th pick in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

For Epps it was the next step in what has been a remarkable football career. Epps walked onto the Wyoming Football team in 2014. After redshirting as a freshman, he started 50 games for the Cowboys over the next four years, was a three-time team captain and now is an NFL Draft pick.

He concluded his Wyoming career with 325 career tackles, ranking No. 11 in Wyoming school history. Among all active FBS players in 2018, Epps tied for 12th in career interceptions, with nine, and he ranked No. 23 in the nation among active players in career solo tackles, averaging 4.30 per game.

Under his leadership, Wyoming was bowl elgibile all three years he was a voted a team captain and made consecutive bowl appearances in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl and the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Cowboys also made their first appearance in the Mountain West Championship Game in 2016.

Epps’ selection marked the third consecutive year that Wyoming has had at least one player selected in the NFL Draft, and the fourth year in the previous five years during the Craig Bohl-era that Wyoming has had a player selected. Former Wyoming linebacker Mark Nzeocha was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboy running back Brian Hill (fifth round by Cincinnati Bengals) and offensive lineman Chase Roullier (sixth round by the Washington Redskins) were drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. In the 2018 NFL Draft, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen became the highest NFL Draft pick in school history when the Buffalo Bills selected him with the seventh pick in the first round.

Cowboys Conduct Moment of Silence, Wear Helmet Decal Saturday Honoring Signee Naphtali Moi Moi
The Wyoming Cowboys wore a special helmet decal for Saturday’s Spring Game. The helmet decal featured the initials NM and a number 50 in black and white to honor 2019 Cowboy Football signee Naphtali Moi Moi, who went missing off the coast of Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Thursday, April 18 when he was caught in a rip current. Moi Moi was also recognized with a moment of silence prior to Saturday’s game.