By John Durgee, University of Wyoming

Wyoming Improves To 5-3 With 28-14 Win Over Utah State on Homecoming

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University of Wyoming

The Wyoming Cowboys led from start to finish on Saturday night to win their fifth game of the season in a 28-14 home victory over Utah State on Homecoming.  A crowd of 21,420 saw the Cowboys improve to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the Mountain West to take sole possession of second place in the Mountain Division.  Utah State is now 3-5 and 2-2 in the Mountain West. 

The Cowboy offense exploded for 529 yards of total offense, which is the most this season for the Pokes and the most since UW totaled 531 yards in a 52-38 win over Kent State in last year’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  It was the most yards of total offense for the Cowboys in a conference game since tallying 604 yards of total offense against Utah State in 2021 in a 44-17 road win in Logan, Utah.

Defensively, Wyoming held the Aggies to 217 yards of total offense, which was the second lowest offensive output by an opponent this year — second only to Northern Colorado’s 147 total yards.

Wyoming won the Bridger Rifle traveling trophy for the fourth time since the traveling trophy was established in 2013.  The Bridger’s Battle portion of the series between the Cowboys and Aggies now stands at 5-4 in favor of Utah State. 

Wyoming has won four of the last six meetings between the two long-time rivals in a series that dates back to 1903.  Wyoming is now 48-46-3 in Homecoming games and is 43-27-2 in Homecoming games played in War Memorial Stadium.

The Wyoming offense was fueled by two 100-yard rushers in Titus Swen, who rushed for 160 yards and D.Q. James, who ran for 120.  It was Swen’s fifth 100-yard rushing game of his career. 

His only two better games were a 169-yard rushing performance at Utah State a year ago and a 166-yard game against Colorado State in 2021.  For James, it was the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. 

Swen also rushed for a career best three touchdowns on the night, and he added a two-point conversion following UW’s final TD for a total of 20 points in the game.  He previously scored three rushing TDs against Northern Colorado earlier this season.

Cowboy junior quarterback Andrew Peasley completed 13 of 26 passes for 199 yards.  He added 29 rushing yards for 228 yards of total offense.  His favorite target on the night was wide receiver Wyatt Wieland, who caught a career high six passes for a career best 94 yards.

On defense, the Cowboys recorded 6.0 sacks and 11.0 tackles for loss led by defensive end DeVonne Harris, who recorded 3.0 sacks and defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole, who was credited with 1.0 sack and nine tackles. 

Bertagnole and middle linebacker Easton Gibbs both registered nine tackles to lead Wyoming.  Safety Wyett Ekeler intercepted Utah State quarterback Bishop Davenport to create Wyoming’s one takeaway on the night.  It was the first interception of Ekeler’s career.  The Cowboys committed only one turnover when Wieland muffed a punt in the second quarter that was recovered by USU’s Jamie Nance.

Cowboy place-kicker John Hoyland continued his outstanding play, making field goals of 43 and 51 yards.  Hoyland’s only miss on the night was a 55-yard attempt.  He is now 17 of 19 (.895) for the season and is 40 of 47 (.851) for his career in field goals.

“It was a really good win.  We made some big plays tonight against a good football team,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl.  “There are certainly things we can do better.  At the end, our defensive guys really rose up and put some pressure on and our coverage guys covered the routes well.  I thought we had a really good mix of the run and the pass (on offense). Overall, it’s a really good team win.

“D.Q. (James) has continued to practice better.  He added a different element tonight.  He’s got an extra gear, and he made some big, big plays.  (D.Q. James) is an explosive guy.  He’s not very tall in stature, but he has great explosion.  He’s very strong, and he has a great first step and you saw that tonight. 

“Andrew (Peasley) has really meshed in with our football team.  I thought he had a very focused week of practice.  I know he has really good things to say about his experience at Utah State.  I think it was important for him to continue to play well tonight.

“The Bridger Rifle” is one of the things that’s neat about college football.  It certainly means a lot to us. 

“Our defensive ends have had tons of growth, but boy are they young.  I don’t know if any of them shave.  They’re fun.  This is probably the most enjoyable year I’ve had as a coach because you have a bunch of young guys just trying to get better.”

Wyoming struck first in the game.  After each team was forced to punt on their first two possessions, the Cowboys took over at their own 20-yard line with 6:56 on the clock in the first quarter. 

Peasley proceeded to lead UW on a four-play, 80-yard drive, with running back Swen capping off the drive with a 30-yard touchdown run up the middle to give the Pokes a 7-0 lead with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter. 

The drive also included a 46-yard pass from Peasley to tight end Colin O’Brien down the right sideline on a first and 15.  Swen carried three times on the drive for 39 yards.

Midway through the second quarter, the Cowboys struck again on another long scoring drive, going 67 yards in eight plays.  Swen carried five times for 33 yards on the drive,including his second touchdown run of the night — this one from five yards out.  Running back James also contributed a run of 14 yards, and Peasley was 2 for 2 passing on the drive for 20 yards, connecting with tight ends Jackson Marcotte (four yards) and Treyton Welch (16 yards).  UW led 14-0.

Wyoming forced Utah State into another punt on its next possession, but on the punt Cowboy punt returner Wieland muffed the punt and it was recovered by Utah State at the Wyoming 17-yard line.  Five plays later, Aggie quarterback Davenport scored on a five-yard TD run to pull USU to within seven at 14-7 with 3:48 remaining in the half.

The two teams exchanged punts and UW forced a second Utah State punt.  With only 19 seconds left in the half and the Cowboys at their own 24-yard line, it looked like the score might remain a one-score game going into halftime. 

But on first down, Peasley connected with wide receiver Joshua Cobbs on the left sideline for 11 yards.  On the second play of the drive, Peasley found Wieland down the middle for 39 yards to the Utah State 26-yard line with only seven seconds remaining. 

Wyoming took a timeout.  Peasley attempted one more pass to the corner of the end zone for Cobbs that was incomplete.  Hoyland then came in an knocked through a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give the Pokes a 17-7 halftime lead and take momentum into halftime.

Wyoming’s 289 total yards at halftime were the most since the Cowboys gained 300 against Colorado State in the first half in 2021.

Utah State started the second half with the ball, but on the third play from scrimmage the Cowboys came up with a turnover as safety Ekeler made his first career interception on a deep pass at the Wyoming 23-yard line.

On its ensuing possession, Wyoming drove the ball down to the Utah State 38-yard line.  Facing a fourth down and three, Hoyland came in to attempt a 55-yard field goal.  The kick was long enough, but missed slightly to the right.  It was only the second miss of the season for Hoyland.

Taking over at its own 38, Utah State put together a seven-play, 62-yard drive that included the Aggies gaining six yards on a fourth and one at the USU 47.  The drive ended with a 31-yard TD run by running back Calvin Tyler Jr. to cut Wyoming’s lead to 17-14 with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter.

Peasley and the Cowboy offense would answer with a 10-play, 52-yard drive, resulting in a 51-yard field goal by Hoyland to extend UW’s lead to 20-14 with 3:06 remaining in the third.  One of the big plays on the drive was a 13-yard jet sweep by wide receiver Will Pelissier.

The score would remain a six-point game until the Pokes would engineer one final scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter.  Starting at their own 17-yard line with 8:50 left on the clock, Wyoming put together a nine-play drive  — eight of them running plays — for 83 yards, capped off by a six-yard Swen TD run — his third on the night.  Swen also ran in the two-point conversion to give the Cowboys their final margin of victory at 28-14.

Wyoming continued its season-long pattern of engineering long scoring drives.  All five of the Cowboys’ scoring drives against Utah State went for 50 yards or more, including scoring drives of 50, 52, 67, 80 and 83 yards.  UW now has had 21 scoring drives of 50 or more yards in eight games this season.

The Cowboys and Aggies entered Saturday’s game tied for second place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference with identical 2-1 records.  Wyoming now takes over second place in the division by itself with a 3-1 conference mark and is just one game back of first-place Boise State (4-0) halfway through the conference schedule.

Next Up

Following Saturday’s win over Utah State, the Cowboys will make their longest trip of the season next week, traveling to Hawai’i to face the Rainbow Warriors in a Mountain West Conference match-up on Saturday, Oct. 29.  That game will kick off at 10 p.m., Mountain Time (6 p.m., Hawai’i Time) and will be televised by Spectrum Hawai’i PPV and the Team 1 Sports App.

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