Wyoming football is back! After a Covid-19 delayed start and football on pause in many parts of the country the Mountain West resumed football. The Mountain West, as well as the Big Ten started their season this weekend, joining the ACC, SEC, AAC, Big 12, Conference USA and the Sun Belt.
With so many unknowns coming into this shortened season the Cowboys lost the game in overtime 37-34. The Cowboys were down by 22 points with four minutes left in the third quarter but rallied back to force overtime against the Wolf Pack.
However, the Cowboys suffered a potentially fatal blow right away today, as Sean Chambers suffered a lower leg injury on the third play of the game. Chambers was carted off the field not being able to put any weight on his left leg. He returned to the sideline on crutches and a heavily wrapped ankle. Craig Bohl said after the game Chambers’ injury was likely “in the category of being season ending.”
The Wyoming offense struggled throughout most of the first half, not being able to capitalize on good field position given to them on turnovers forced by the Cowboy defense. Freshman kicker John Hoyland accounted for the first six Wyoming points. Hoyland was filling in for injured kicker Luke Glassock who suffered a groin injury earlier in the week.
Levi Williams, in relief of Sean Chambers, came into the game and led the Cowboy offense to a 16/31 for 227 yards and one touchdown, plus rushed for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Bohl said after the game that “Williams did well” and that the Cowboys had some problems with some protections. And that “Williams came up with some good plays.” Luckily for the Pokes Williams was also not injured as the two quarterbacks behind him were not available due to being in Covid quarantine. The two quarterbacks should be available for Hawaii next week.
Wyoming ended the first half down 14-6, though that score could have been a lot worse. Aside from the two turnovers the Pokes defense also held the Pack on 4th and goal to get the ball back on downs. However, like many drives in the first half, the subsequent drive flamed out after three rushes. The Cowboys were outgained 15 first downs to four for the Pokes. The Cowboys struggled much of the first half to get anything going.
The second half was a different story, however, as the Cowboys found themselves in an even deeper hole by allowing Nevada a couple of scores. However, late in the third quarter an incomplete pass to Ayden Eberhardt resulted in a personal foul for targeting when Nevada’s Tyson Williams launched himself at Eberhardt resulting in him being ejected from the game. That was the hit the Cowboys needed to get back in this football game.
The Pokes finished marching down the field and scored on a Levi Williams touchdown run from 21 yards out for the Pokes’ first touchdown of the season. The Wyoming defense locked down the Wolf Pack and forced them into a punt. Williams tossed his first touchdown of the game with a 22 yard pass to Gunner Gentry. The touchdown was Gentry’s first touchdown as a Cowboy.
The Pokes forced another Nevada punt and marched another scoring drive down the field, this time Williams taking it in from eight yards out to tie the game. The Cowboys had completed a comeback for the ages.
Nevada would put three more points on the board to go up three. With the defense holding the Pack with less than two minutes left in the game punt returner Dontae Crow let a punt get past him and the Cowboys started at their own one yard line with 1:30 on the clock.
Levi Williams kept the chains moving as the Pokes marched down the field. A late hit on Xazavian Valladay gave the Pokes a free 15 yards and put the Cowboys in position for a field goal attempt. The true walk-on freshman from Broomfield, Colorado stepped up and drilled the kick of his life from 42 yards out.
In overtime captain Sean Chambers took the field on crutches to take the coin toss. Nevada deferred putting the Cowboys on offense. Wyoming’s initial drive stalled and Hoyland nailed another kick to give the Pokes their first lead of the game. Nevada would respond on the corresponding drive with a touchdown and end the Pokes’ hope of winning the game.
Hoyland’s performance should rank amongst the best for a first time player. After the game Craig Bohl mentioned that Hoyland really hadn’t kicked much due to being in Covid quarantine, but he just showed up and made some huge plays for the Cowboys.
On defense, under first year coach Jay Sawvel, the Cowboys gave up 496 yards to the Wolf Pack. Quarterback Carson Strong threw for 420 yards against the Cowboys secondary. Bohl said that the Wolf Pack were much improved after last season and that Strong had made major improvements. He also said that he thought they might have trouble defending the perimeter against Nevada. Nevada’s top wide receiver Elijah Cooks was suspended for the first half, but came in and made in immediate impact. He eventually left the game with an arm injury.
Leading the way for the Cowboy defense was Chad Muma who had 14 total tackles, ten solo. The Cowboys forced two fumbles and recovered both, as well as two sacks and six tackles for loss. However, the 420 yards passing will be something the coaching staff takes a hard look at this coming week as they prepare for the pass happy Rainbow Warriors.
Wyoming will host Hawaii next week in their home opener. The game will be a 7:45 kickoff on Friday night from Laramie and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.