Laramie, WY – On another beautiful fall day in Laramie in front of a Homecoming crowd of 18,378 the Wyoming Cowboys fell to 2-6 and 0-4 in Mountain West Conference play with a 24-16 loss to the Utah State Aggies. The scoring started early in the game as Utah State scored on the 3rd play of the game on a 56-yard touchdown run by Darwin Thompson. Wyoming would threaten to tie the game at seven late in the first quarter after LB Logan Wilson intercepted a Jordan Love pass and returned it to the Utah State 13 yard line. The Wyoming offense could not get in the end zone from close range and had to settle for a 27-yard Cooper Rothe field goal to make the score 7-3. Utah State would kick a 45-yard field goal at the 7:47 mark of the second quarter to make the score 10-3 Utah State a scoreline that would hold up to halftime.
Utah State would also score early in the third quarter converting a Wyoming turnover (Vander Waal interception) on the first play of the second half into a touchdown that extended their lead to 17-3. Vander Waal would be removed from the game at that point for true freshman Sean Chambers who made a cameo appearance on a drive in the first quarter that resulted in a Wyoming turnover on a Chamber’s fumble. Chambers would rely heavily on his legs while in the game and showed the importance of having a mobile quarterback with a 100-yard rushing effort in his first college game.
The third quarter would be the highest scoring quarter of the game with Wyoming would making the score 17-6 Utah State, on a Cooper Rothe 47-yard field goal with 4:25 left in the third. Utah State would return the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown making the score 24-6 and it looked like the game might be out of reach for the Pokes. The Cowboys battled back though and after a Nico Evans 53-yard run Wyoming trailed by just 11 points (24-13) with 2:37 left in the third quarter.
The Cowboy defense would continue their solid play in the fourth quarter and Wyoming would make the game just a one-possession affair (24-16) with 5:32 left on a 21-yard field goal from Cooper Rothe. Wyoming had an opportunity to score a touchdown on that drive but a false start penalty would turn a second and goal from the two to a second and goal from the seven. That’s the closest Wyoming would get in what was a strange ending to the game.
After the Wyoming defense forced a Utah State punt with 2:14 left in the game, the Wyoming coaching staff made the odd decision of re-inserting Tyler Vander Waal into the game. Vander Wall would throw four straight incompletions including a pass on 4th down to a wide-open Austin Conway who dropped the ball.
The decision to put Vander Waal back in the game is puzzling considering Chambers led Wyoming to 13 points in the second half (compared to Vander Waal’s 3 points in the first half) and Chambers was clearly moving the ball better Than Vander Waal. It was a poor coaching and game management decision considering everyone in the stadium could see Chambers clearly brought a spark to the offense Vander Waal did not offer. This will be a situation Wyoming fans may be discussing for some time.
The difference in this game was the first drive in the second half for the Pokes which was one play drive. Wyoming took the ball at their own 25 after a Utah State touchback on the kickoff and Tyler Vander Waal threw an interception that was returned to the Wyoming three-yard line. Vander Waal had his target, TE Tyree Mayfield open, but he delayed his throw and the pass was intercepted by OLB Jontrell Rocquemore. Utah State would score on the very next play extending their lead to 17 to 3.
– Wyoming is now 26-38-4 all-time vs Utah State. The Aggies have a 4-2 series advantage now after joining the Mountain West in 2013.
– The Wyoming defense did what I would consider a very good job against Utah State. If you subtract the points from the interception and the kick return the defense was only directly responsible for 10 points against a team who is number one in the Mountain West in scoring offense entering today averaging 51 points a game. Additionally, Wyoming held the Aggies to 284 yards less than their average of 478 yards per game which is second in the Mountain West behind only Boise State. All in all Wyoming fans can be proud of their defense.
– Cooper Rothe is now 12 for 12 in kicking field goals this season. The junior from Longmont, Colorado has improved his kicking percentage each season going from 65% in his freshman year, to 83% in his sophomore year to 100% so far in his junior year. He is one of the most consistent players on the team now, it’s too bad the offense can’t give him more kicking opportunities to score points.
– Sean Chambers has some swagger and that “it” factor. Tyler Vander Waal could still develop into an adequate college quarterback but he currently doesn’t have the “it” factor I see in Chambers. Chambers clearly sparked this offense even though he wasn’t allowed to throw and I find it very perplexing with the game on the line that Bohl and Vigen would go back to Vander Waal especially since Chambers threw for more yards than Vander Waal even though he had 14 fewer passing attempts.
Quick Box Score
Score by Quarters
QB Tyler Vander Waal: 7 / 19 – 38 yards, 1 INT
QB Sean Chambers: 3 / 5 – 62 yards, 19 rushes – 100 yards
RB Nico Evans: 25 rushes – 133 yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions – 40 yards
LB Logan Wilson: 11 total tackles, 1 interception
DE Garret Crall: 3 tackles – 1 sack
S Andrew Wingard: 6 tackles
Wyoming (2-5, 0-3) will be on the road in a rare Friday night game on October 26th as they take on their arch-rivals the Colorado State Rams (3-5, 2-2) in the Border War. The game kicks off at 8pm MT and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.