The Wyoming Cowboys were coming off of a bye week hoping to carry the momentum of their season with them despite not playing football for a week. Any chance of a letdown or the momentum not returning was quickly squashed with an explosion of points scored.
The Cowboys rolled into Reno riding high in the saddles after beating border rivals Colorado State and Air Force in back to back week. Fresh off of a bye week the Pokes needed a win on the road to keep their post season hopes, as well as a shot at the Mountain West title on track.
The Pokes got their victory in Reno 42-34 in front of a sparse crowd at Mackay Stadium. The Cowboys were favored in a Mountain West game for the first time since 2013. They were a four point favorite coming into the Nevada game.
Wyoming got on the board first when Brian Hill scored on a 56 yard run, a toss from quarterback Josh Allen. The touchdown run, Hill’s third carry of the game, put him over 100 yards as he ran for 41 yards on the first offensive play of the game for the Cowboys.
After that the Cowboys would never trail in the game.
Wyoming knocked out starting quarterback Tyler Stewart who suffered a shoulder injury. An MRI on Stewart came back negative. He was replaced by Ty Gangi for the remainder of the game. Gangi led the Wolf Pack down field. After their drive stalled Spencer Pettit kicked a 45 yard field goal to get Nevada on the score board.
Wyoming got the ball back and kept their foot to the pedal by marching down the field for 92 yards and a score. The drive featured Josh Allen hitting Tanner Gentry for a 54 yard strike. Brian Hill converted that into a touchdown three plays later for the score to put the Cowboys up 14-3.
Nevada would strike back when Ty Gangi had an impressive run from 17 yards out that would close the Cowboy lead to 14-10 in the second quarter.
Wyoming would keep the scoring parade coming as they gashed Nevada on another long drive and eventually Josh Allen would take the ball into the end zone on a one yard keeper, a bootleg setup perfectly by Allen. Nevada would kick another field goal before half. Wyoming attempted to respond but it was foiled when Cooper Rothe missed a 47 yard field goal as time expired on the half.
Wyoming went into the half leading 21-13.
The Cowboys didn’t lose any momentum after the half as Wyoming scored on its first drive. Wyoming marched down the field once again and marched the ball down inside the five yard line. The Cowboys ran a little bit of trickery where Hill took a handoff from Allen who then pitched the ball on a reverse to Austin Conway. Conway found Josh Allen standing all by himself in the end zone and completed an easy touchdown pass.
The touchdown pass from Conway to Allen was the first touchdown of Conway’s career as a Cowboy. The pass was the first time a non-quarterback had thrown a touchdown pass since Chris McNeil did so in 2012.
Nevada responded to that touchdown drive by punching in a touchdown from nine yards out, thanks to James Butler, the Wolf Pack’s talented running back.
Wyoming went back on the offensive and punched in another touchdown, this time it was Brian Hill from 20 yards out. The Pokes would go up 35-20 at this point in the third quarter, but the Wolf Pack refused to stay down in this game.
Nevada would go on another long drive and scored when Ty Gangi hit fullback Jarred Gipson on a 27 yard pass for a score.
Wyoming and Nevada would stall out on their ensuing drives, Wyoming punting and Nevada missing a 37 yard field goal.
Wyoming would add the final dagger to the Wolf Pack’s night by marching 80 yards down the field and Josh Allen scoring from 7 yards out. Nevada would run down the field and add another touchdown to trail 42-34.
The Wolf Pack followed up their touchdown with a successful onside kick recovery. The following play Gangi tossed an interception to Logan Wilson and the game was over.
Brian Hill was the star of the show on Saturday night as he rushed for 289 yards and three touchdowns. The Wolf Pack game into ranked as one of the worst rushing defenses in the Mountain West and FBS, and Wyoming imposed their will on the Pack all night. At one point Wyoming ran the ball 16 straight times.
As a team the Cowboys ran for 429 yards and five touchdowns on the Wolf Pack. The Pokes only attempted 13 passes all night. Allen completed 8/12 for 135 yards. Austin Conway, the former high school quarterback, was 1/1 and a touchdown.
Tanner Gentry led the receivers with four receptions for 109 yards. Hill, Conway, Jake Maulhardt, and Wick all recorded receptions for the Pokes.
Entering this week Brian Hill and Nevada’s James Butler were neck and neck in the national standings in total rushing yards. Hill scampered for 289, while Butler rushed for 73 yards and two scores. At the end of the college football day Brian Hill will move into the number two spot in total rushing yards with 1010 yards on the season, only trailing San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey.
The 289 yards from Hill is a career high for him. The 289 is also the most by a Mountain West running back this season. The three touchdowns are also a career high for Hill. Hill is now seventh all time on the Wyoming career touchdowns list. It was Hill’s seventh career 200 yard game.
Two Cowboy defensive players recorded double digit tackles on Saturday. Andrew Wingard has 11 tackles and Antonio Hull had 10 tackles. The Cowboys have been very good at getting to the quarterback this season. They have 15 sacks on the season. Last year the Pokes only recorded 14 sacks all season. The Pokes had two sacks tonight, one from Logan Wilson and one from Kevin Prosser.
Wyoming is now 5-2 on the season, 3-0 in Mountain West play. The Cowboys haven’t started 3-0 since 1998 when the Pokes were still in the WAC. The Cowboys will play host to Boise State next weekend in Laramie. Boise State comes into the game undefeated at 7-0, 3-0 in conference play.
The Broncos are fresh off of a win over BYU this past weekend in Boise. Boise State is working their way towards a New Year’s bowl game. With Houston losing the Broncos are now the highest ranked Group of Five team.
The game will kick off in Laramie at 5:00pm from War Memorial Stadium. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.
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