Anatomy of a touchdown
LARAMIE -- Sean Chambers said throwing his first touchdown pass of 2019 felt like getting a monkey off his back.
Imagine how Ayden Eberhardt felt.
The junior wide receiver had played in 22 games, and had only caught seven passes for 64 yards in his career at Wyoming.
That all changed last Saturday. And in a big way, too. Late in the fourth quarter, Eberhardt dashed down the middle of Skelly Field in Tulsa.
He was all alone.
"Oh yeah, it felt like the ball was hanging up there for 10 seconds," Eberhardt laughed. "I was just waiting for it to come down."
Chambers faked the handoff and rolled out to his right. He flicked his wrist and launched the ball 53 yards into the awaiting arms of Eberhardt, who was gliding around the 15-yard line.
"It's a great feeling to see the safety roll down and not have his eyes on me," Eberhardt continued. "Once I saw that, I ran straight down the field. All I had to do was make sure that I caught the ball and got into the end zone."
He did. Finally.
Wyoming inched closer on the scoreboard, too, making it 17-14 Tulsa with just 11:03 to go.
Eberhardt, who now has eight catches for 117 yards, could barely contain his excitement once he reached the blue paint. He held the ball high in his left hand and looked at the visitor's bench as if to say "did you guys see that?"
He tossed the ball to the official and jumped into the arms of Gunner Gentry ... then Jackson Marcotte ... then anyone in his general direction.
"Scoring that touchdown was awesome," Eberhardt said with a smile. "It contributes to the team. It was really exciting, but it was tough to celebrate it too much."
That's because the Cowboys ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, falling to the Golden Hurricane, 24-21.
Though he wasn't in a jubilant mood after the game, Eberhardt couldn't help but smile with his parents and grandpa, Patrick Garst, who were in attendance last Saturday.
Garst lives in Oklahoma. It was the first time he has ever been able to watch his grandson play live.
"It was nice to share that moment with him," Eberhardt said. "I really don't get to see him too often, but we talk all the time. That was special."
There's something else special brewing, too, according to Eberhardt -- the Cowboys passing attack.
On Wyoming's final three drives of the day, Chambers and Co. marched up and down the field on Tulsa, scoring 14 consecutive points to take a 21-17 lead with just 5:25 to go.
Raghib Ismail made a pair of contested catches. Dontae Crow bolted 34 yards deep into Tulsa territory. John Okwoli snagged a catch. Eberhardt nearly made it two long ones in a row on a reverse to Austin Conway. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Conway waited too long to make the pass and it fell short of its intended target.
Either way, the Pokes racked up 194 yards of total offense in its last three drives.
"I really do think we made strides as an offense toward the end," Eberhardt said. "We will continue to improve, and I think we have a chance to keep this thing going."
Wyoming's wide receivers have snagged just 23 passes for 365 yards. Eberhardt said it's just a matter of time before the pass catchers start making a real difference. And that, he said, can be attributed to the confidence they have in each other -- and their quarterback.
"It's really special in the wide receiver room," he said. "We all have each other's back and get pumped for each other. Those last offensive pushes brought out a lot of positives. Hopefully we are about to turn the corner, keep moving the ball and putting points on the board. It's awesome to see them making plays. I really feel like that is contagious."
One thing Eberhardt hopes isn't contagious is his sister's college decision.
Lexi Eberhardt is an incoming freshman on the Colorado State women's basketball team. Eberhardt joked that he has two younger twin sisters that he hopes don't get influenced by that. He added that they might be the best athletes in the family, too.
Will he be sporting green and gold to support his sister?
"No way," he laughed. "I went with my family to go get CSU gear and I told them, 'I'll stay a couple of aisles down. Just tell me when you're ready to leave.'
"I think when she plays I'll just get a black and white shirt that says 'Go Lexi.'"
Growing up in Loveland, Colo., Eberhardt said his family never had an allegiance to the Rams. Most of his family was from Nebraska. He grew up a Cornhuskers fan.
That has changed, too.
"Once I made my decision to go to Wyoming, I threw it all away and burned it," he said of his Huskers' clothes.