Three's Company: Cowboys Extend Border War Win Streak to Three
From the desk of Tim Harkins
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A pair of turnovers recorded by the Wyoming defense that turned into scores, along with a timely interception late to secure the win, lifted the Cowboys over Colorado State, 34-21, on Friday night at Canvas Stadium in the 110th edition of the Border War rivalry. It marked the Cowboys’ third-straight win over the rival Rams, keeping the Bronze Boot in Laramie and pushing Wyoming’s record in the Bronze Boot era of the rivalry to 26-24.
“Well, first of all, what makes it really special is the length of the rivalry,” head coach Craig Bohl said. “We have a great respect for how they run their program and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and those are fun to compete in. It’s really special for our seniors to win the boot three years in a row.”
The Cowboys (3-6, 1-4 MW) were led by a pair of 100-yard rushers in running back Nico Evans and quarterback Sean Chambers. Evans recorded 176 yards on a career-high 28 carries to lead all players, while in his first career start Chambers added a career-high 101 yards on 22 attempts. Evans and Chambers each eclipsed the 100-yard mark for their second-straight game. . It is the first time a pair of Cowboy teammates have accomplished this feat in the Mountain West era of Cowboy football.
“You always feel really good in these kinds of games when you’ve got a good running game going because you’re able to chew up the clock and keep their offense off the field,” Bohl said. “They really became one dimensional and once we were able to go up a couple of scores we were able to bleed the clock and come away with the win.
Chambers was efficient in the passing game as well, making the most of his 10 attempts with seven completions for 116 yards and two touchdowns—the first two touchdown passes of his career.
Wyoming’s 34 points was a season high for the Pokes. The 31 second-half points are the most points scored in any half this season for the Cowboys, topping the 16 points scored in the first half of the Washington State game. The Cowboys’ 407 yards of total offense are the most since the season-opener against New Mexico State (449).
Defensively, Wyoming forced three turnovers with two leading to touchdowns from the offense to help the Brown and Gold pull away during an electric third quarter in which it racked up 21 points—the most it’s scored in a single quarter this season. The Cowboys forced multiple turnovers for the fourth time this season, also recording multiple takeaways against Hawai’i, Wofford and Washington State.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen our defense show signs of what it was last year in being able to get that ball out,” Bohl said.
The Cowboys recorded nine tackles for loss as a team, tying a season high set against Boise State. Wyoming recorded a season-best eight pass breakups, with eight different players recording one. Wyoming shut out Colorado State in the first half, 3-0. It marked its second shutout in a half of the season, with the last coming in the first half of the Cowboys’ season opener at New Mexico State.
Junior linebacker Logan Wilson had the fourth double-digit tackle game of the season and 11th of his career with his 12 tackles. It is his third game in a row with double-digit tackles. Senior cornerback Antonio Hull had the first double-digit tackle game of the season and the third of his career with a career-high-tying 10 tackles. He last achieved this against San Diego State in 2016. Hull also intercepted his second pass of the season and the fifth of his career.
After a scoreless first quarter of play, Wyoming struck first on a 30-yard field goal by junior kicker Cooper Rothe with 11:27 left in the second frame. The Longmont, Colo. native moved to a perfect 13-of-13 on the season. The Pokes went 11-plays for 50 yards to set up the kick. Chambers was the catalyst of the drive rushing for 24 yards.
Both defenses remained stout the rest of the half. The Rams had a chance to tie the contest in the final seconds of the half, but kicker Wyatt Bryant missed a 53-yard attempt. Wyoming outgained the Rams 134-131 in the first half. The UW defense held the Rams to minus 12 rushing yards, while CSU threw for 133 yards in the half.
Wyoming took a 10-0 lead on the opening drive of the second half. Chambers found Evans on a 14-yard pass to cap a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Chambers and Evans combined for combined for 33 rushing yards on the drive.
Senior safety Marcus Epps lined up on a safety blitz hitting Ram quarterback Collin Hill forcing a fumble that was recovered by sophomore defensive tackle Ravontae Holt at the Colorado State 25-yard line with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
The turnover helped set up an 8-yard scramble by Chambers to make it a 17-0 game with 6:09 left in the third quarter. Senior wide receiver James Price made a key catch for 13-yards to put the Pokes in position for the score.
Another turnover by the Rams, this time an interception by linebacker Cassh Maluia with an assist on the break up by safety Andrew Wingard set up a 48-yard touchdown rush by Evans to make it a 24-0 game. The turnovers were recorded on back-to-back offensive plays for the Rams offensively, and the Pokes scored on back-to-back plays.
The Rams got on the board with 1:23 left in the third period on a 15-yard scamper by Marvin Kinsey, Jr. to make it a 24-7 game. Colorado State went 78-yards on 11 plays. Hill completed seven passes on the drive throwing for 62 yards.
Wyoming stretched its lead back to 20 to open the fourth, as Rothe put through his second field goal of the night—a 45-yarder to cap off a 9-play, 47-yard drive in which Chambers, Evans and freshman running back Jevon Bigelow combined for eight rushes to pick up all 47 yards in the series.
The Rams would respond again in the fourth with a 10-yard touchdown run from running back Marvin Kinsey Jr., to cap off a quick 7-play drive that stretched 74 yards and took 1:34 off the clock. With the score, Colorado State cut the Wyoming advantage to 27-14.
Wyoming wouldn’t allow the Rams to celebrate for long after the score, however, as Chambers found tight end Tyree Mayfield open down the field for a 43-yard touchdown pass. The play wrapped a five-play, 65-yard drive that stretched the Cowboy lead back to 34-14 with 2:52 to go. The touchdown marked Mayfield’s second touchdown of the season and third of his career.
Colorado State was able to score on the following possession to cut the Cowboy advantage to 34-21 and force a Wyoming punt shortly after; however, an Antonio Hull interception and return to the Ram 40 yard line quelled any hopes for a Colorado State comeback as Wyoming was able to run out the remainder of the 3:18 left on the clock and secure the victory.
The Cowboys return to action next Saturday inside War Memorial Stadium hosting San Jose State for a noon kickoff on AT&T SportsNet.