Craig Bohl’s Rare Fourth-Down Call Sparks Comeback
LARAMIE -- Lost in the emotion of an upset victory and the brown-and-gold sea of 26,000-plus inside a raucous War Memorial Stadium Saturday night was a third-quarter pitch and catch that was initially deemed incomplete.
Facing a 3rd-and-7 from Texas Tech's 36-yard line, Andrew Peasley fired a pass toward the home sideline. Wyoming tight end John Michael Gyllenborg reeled in the throw.
But did he get a foot down?
A nearby referee said no, waving both arms to her left, indicating as much.
"I talked to the side judge and she said that, you know, it was one of her toughest calls," Craig Bohl said Monday afternoon at his weekly press conference.
Video replay said otherwise.
Still, the pick up was just five yards, which was a surprise to the Cowboys head coach, who was asking where the ball would be placed if that was indeed a catch.
"I was initially given information that it was 4th-and-1," Bohl said with a grin. "It wasn't 4th-and-1, it was 4th-and-2."
Surely John Hoyland, Wyoming's All-American kicker, would trot onto the field to attempt a 48-yard field goal and cut the Red Raiders' lead to 17-13, right? After all, unlike his counterpart across the field, Joey McGuire, who went for it on fourth down an astonishing 52 times last fall, the most in the FBS, Bohl plays it a tad safer.
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McGuire said at Big XII Media Days he goes by the "book and gut." The "book" he is referring to is Championship analytics, a firm that allegedly takes the "guesswork" out of in-game coaching decisions.
Bohl, let's just say, isn't a subscriber. He made that gamble just seven times in 13 games in 2022. Only two were successful.
"Yeah, there's analytics. We have a big book and we crunch all the numbers and we pay a kazillion dollars," Bohl said sarcastically. "I'm not going to say exactly what I said, but I said, 'we're rolling with it.' It was probably in more colorful terms than that."
Peasley took the snap and put the ball in the belly of 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back Sam Scott who followed his blockers through the left "B Gap," picking up just a hair over the two yards needed.
"I thought our offensive line really did a great job, particularly inside," Bohl said, that smile returning to his face. "Then Sam ran hard."
Four plays later, Scott did that whole run hard thing again, patiently waiting for the left side of the line to cave in the Red Raiders' defensive front. The sophomore made one cut and raced into the end zone untouched from 16 yards out.
Wyoming erased an early 17-0 deficit and took its opening drive of the second half 76 yards on 13 plays. The possession chewed up 7:31 off the clock. More importantly the scoreboard read: 17-17.
Momentum was officially on the Cowboys' side.
"That was a big, big, I think, turning point in the game," Bohl added. "Certainly it was great to get the first down."
The Cowboys would go on to knock off the visitors from Lubbock 35-33 in double overtime. Peasley, Gyllenborg and Scott were again the stars of the extra frame.
On a 4th-and-7 from the 11, Wyoming's super senior signal caller, facing an all-out blitz, stood tall in the pocket, zipping a throw to Gyllenborg just before taking one of many violent hits on the night. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Leawood, Kan., product snagged the ball and immediately turned up field, breaking the plane and tying the game at 33-all.
Scott, again calmly waiting for the big boys up front to do their thing, marched into the end zone for the game-winning two-point conversion.
The party was officially on.
Now, the only question remaining is: are we witnessing a new, riskier Bohl?
"No, it's not a whole new me. Don't start putting me in that category," he said, shaking his head. "... You started looking at the number of possessions and we're going to need a touchdown somehow. It was close enough on that run that we, you know, we got a good push."