Tim Harkins, University of Wyoming
The Wyoming Cowboys entered Saturday night’s home game versus San Jose State riding a three-game home winning streak, but that came to an end with a 33-16 loss at the hands of the Spartans. The loss evens Wyoming’s record at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Mountain West Conference. San Jose State improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Mountain West.
Wyoming took an early lead when the Cowboy defense forced San Jose State into a three-and-out on its first series and the Cowboys took over at their own 39-yard line following a Spartan punt. Wyoming starting quarterback Andrew Peasley was forced out for a couple plays on the first series after taking a hard hit on his first play of the game. Back-up quarterback Jayden Clemons came in and completed a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Joshua Cobbs on a third-and-three, moving the ball down to the San Jose State 29-yard line. After a five-yard run by Swen that took the ball to the 24, place-kicker John Hoyland came in and kicked a 42-yard field goal to give the Pokes a 3-0 lead.
It marked the fifth straight game that Wyoming scored on its first offensive possession of a game.
But the Cowboy offense was challenged throughout the night by a talented San Jose State defense that held the Pokes to 253 yards of total offense (143 rushing and 110 passing), while the Spartan offense was able to generate 456 yards of total offense (142 rushing and 314 passing).
Peasley accounted for 159 yards of total offense (74 rushing and 85 passing) for the Cowboys and threw two touchdown passes of 38 yards to wide receiver Wyatt Wieland and 13 yards to tight end Parker Christensen. Running back Titus Swen added 61 rushing yards. On defense, linebacker Easton Gibbs made 11 tackles for his eighth career double-figure tackle game. Nickel back Keonte Glinton had a career high nine tackles, and safety Wyett Ekeler added a career high seven tackles. The Pokes were able to create pressure on San Jose State quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, with 10 hurries and 2.0 sacks, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
“I think that’s an excellent San Jose State team,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl in his postgame press conference. “There are certainly things we could have done better tonight. We could have coached better. The players could have played better.
“I was concerned coming into this game. We had a lot of guys that were banged up. Their defensive front, they were much more impressive than on tape. There’s a bunch of NFL guys on that front four.
“We had a hard time with some contested balls and that seems to be a broken record. Typically, where we were able to get some movement up front with our offensive line, we got taken to the woodshed.
“It’s a disappointing loss, but that’s a good football team (San Jose State).
“We got beat on offense. We got beat on defense. We came out ahead in the kicking game, but that’s not enough to beat a good football team. It was a rough night. As a coach, I have to encourage these guys to stay in the fight. I don’t think there’s going to be a quit in them. But we’ve got to bounce back. There’s a lot to play for. We have to get ready for New Mexico on the road.”
After Wyoming took its 3-0 lead, the Cowboy defense held the Spartans on their second possession of the game. SJSU punter Travis Benham then hit a 54-yard punt that was downed at the Wyoming one-yard line. On the Cowboys’ first play, running back Swen was tackled in the end zone for a safety and the score was 3-2 in favor of Wyoming.
Forced to take a free kick from its own 20-yard line after the safety, Wyoming’s Hoyland hit a huge 76-yard free kick down to the San Jose State four-yard line. San Jose State returned the kick 27 yards and took over at its own 31-yard line. The Spartans would proceed to drive 60 yards in 14 plays down to the Wyoming nine-yard line, but SJSU place-kicker Taren Schive would miss a 26-yard field-goal attempt.
The first quarter would end with the score 3-2 in favor of Wyoming.
San Jose State would take its first lead of the game on its first possession of the second quarter, driving 57 yards in nine plays, concluding with a 40-yard field goal by Schive to take a 5-3 lead.
The Cowboys next possession saw them drive 35 yards down to the Spartan 39-yard line, but on a fourth and Swen was tackled for a one-yard loss and the ball went back to San Jose State.
Spartan quarterback Cordeiro connected with wide receiver Elijah Cooks down the middle on a 52-yard completion on first down and the Spartans suddenly had a first and goal from the eight-yard line. The Cowboy defense stopped a run for no gain on first down followed by a Spartan incompletion on second down. On third and goal, Cordeiro found tight end Skylar Loving-Black across the middle for an eight-yard touchdown to extend SJSU’s lead to 12-3.
Following the touchdown, a short kickoff by San Jose State was fielded by Wyoming’s Wieland at the Wyoming 14-yard line. He returned it 22 yards to the 36. As Wieland was going out of bounds, a Spartan hit him late and a personal foul penalty added 15 yards to the end of the play, giving the Cowboys the ball at the SJSU 49-yard line. A five-yard run by Swen on first down and a six-yard pass from Peasley to Wieland on third and five gave the Pokes a first down at the San Jose State 38. Peasley went right back to Wieland on the next play and led him perfectly on a deep ball into the middle of the end zone for a 38-yard TD pass to narrow the Spartan lead to 12-10.
With 5:11 remaining in the first half, San Jose State took possession at its own 25-yard line. SJSU moved the ball down to the Wyoming 45 and faced a fourth and one. The Spartans decided to go for it on fourth down and Cordeiro found running back Kairee Robinson on a five-yard completion in the right flat for a first down at the Wyoming 40. A 16-yard completion on the next play combined with a personal foul penalty on Wyoming moved the ball to the 12-yard line. Four plays later, Cordeiro would carry the ball into the end zone extending the Spartans’ lead to 19-10 with only 16 seconds remaining in the half.
San Jose State squibbed a kickoff down the middle and Cowboy linebacker Micah Young picked up the ball at the Wyoming 24-yard line and returned it 10 yards to the 34. Peasley completed a three-yard pass to tight end Parker Christensen and the first half ended with Wyoming trailing 19-10.
As the first half ended, San Jose State had run 44 plays for 253 yards and the Cowboys had 136 yards on 25 plays. Neither team had committed a turnover.
Wyoming won the opening coin flip and deferred to the second half, so the Cowboys had the ball first to start the second half. After a four-yard gain by Swen on the first play of the second half, Peasley tried to connect with wide receiver Cobbs on a slant, but Cobbs and the SJSU defender arrived at the ball simultaneously and the ball was popped up in the air. Spartan defensive end Cade Hall intercepted the tipped ball and San Jose State had the ball at the Wyoming 27-yard line.
Cordeiro connected with wide receiver Cooks for 26 yards on first down, putting the ball at the Wyoming one-yard line. Running back Robinson carried the ball in on the very next play and with only 1:17 gone in the second half, the Spartans’ lead was 26-10.
Each team failed to score on their next possessions, but Peasley would lead the Cowboys on a four-play, 80-yard drive on its next possession. Swen carried for nine yards on first down. After a three-yard loss on second down, Peasley took the snap in shotgun on a third and four. As the San Jose defense began to close in around the junior quarterback, he broke loose up the middle for a 61-yard run — the longest run of the season by the Cowboys. Peasley was tackled at the SJSU 13-yard line. On first down, he arced a pass perfectly over an SJSU defender into the left corner of the end zone for tight end Christensen and the Pokes were back in the game at 26-16 with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter.
Neither team was able to pose a scoring threat the remainder of the third quarter, and the Cowboys entered the fourth period trailing by 10 at 26-16.
Each team would be forced to punt on their first possessions of the fourth quarter. On the Spartans’ second possession of the fourth quarter, they leaned on their running game. They threw only two passes for 13 yards on the drive, but they ran eight running plays for 67 yards, capped off by an 18-yard TD run by QB Cordeiro to give the Spartans a 33-16 lead.
Wyoming would get the ball two more times in the game, but was forced to punt on both drives and the Cowboys dropped their first home game of the season after starting the season 3-0 at home.
The overall series between Wyoming and San Jose State now stands at 7-6 in favor of Wyoming, but San Jose State notched their second win against the Cowboys in the last three meetings and have won five of the last six games between the two schools.
Next Up for Wyoming
After Saturday’s game versus San Jose State, Wyoming will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. to face the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, Oct. 8. That game will kick off at 5:00 p.m., M.T., from University Stadium in Albuquerque and will be televised by CBS Sports Network.