‘It’s not about me’
LARAMIE – It was third and goal from the Tulsa 10-yard line.
Fifty ticks were remaining on the clock. Wyoming trailed by
For Sean Chambers, it was time to make a play. The previous two drives ended with celebrations in the end zone. If he could get one more, Wyoming would leave Oklahoma 4-0 heading into conference play.
He took the snap.
“I didn’t see anyone open,” Chambers said. “I saw some space
and thought I’d make a guy miss and get int the end zone. I thought I did make
the guy miss, but the ball came out.”
Chambers was met at the 3-yard line. He did make a guy whiff but was forced to the inside. That’s where he was hammered to the turf by Tulsa linebacker, Cooper Edmiston.
There would be no tying field-goal attempt. There would be
no risky fourth-down and goal decision.
Officials told Craig Bohl the ball was clearly out. Wyoming’s head coach told them to check it again.
He was only delaying the inevitable.
“It’s tough,” Chambers said. “That was the offense’s first
fumble all season. We could’ve had the ball with 50 seconds left on the
doorstep. I was trying to make a play, but it didn’t happen.
“It happened so fast it was like a blur.”
Chambers completed 9-of-25 passes for a season-high 193
yards to go along with a touchdown pass. He also rushed for two more.
The redshirt freshman from Kerman, Calif., hadn’t tossed a touchdown pass in his last 66 attempts, dating back to Nov. 3 of 2018 when he connected with Austin Fort for a 20-yard scoring strike on the Cowboys’ last offensive play from scrimmage. Wyoming beat San Jose State 24-9 that day in frigid Laramie.
On Chambers’ 19th pass attempt of the game last Saturday, he found a streaking Ayden Eberhardt behind the Tulsa defense. He rolled to his right, flicked his wrist and hit the junior receiver in stride for the 53-yard touchdown pass.
The score cut the Golden Hurricane lead to 17-14.
What made that throw even more impressive was the circumstances. A drive prior, Chambers was planted on the visiting bench while Tyler Vander Waal took the reins of the Wyoming offense. For the first time in his young career, Chambers was relegated to the back-up role. He was a spectator.
It was the product of a stagnant offense that punted the
ball eight times in 11 drives. The other three ended with a blocked field goal,
halftime and turning the ball over on downs.
Bohl took full responsibility for the decision to sit Chambers.
He said he was looking for a spark.
It wasn’t punishment for the way his quarterback was
playing, it was a message to the entire offense.
“I wouldn’t say I wasn’t happy with being pulled, more so
wasn’t happy with the way things were going,” Chambers said Monday in Laramie. “I
understood coach’s decision and I respected it, but at the end of the day, I’m
a teammate first.”
Bohl talked about the look in Chambers’ eyes when he told
him Vander Waal was going in. He called Chambers a competitor and praised him
for not taking the benching lightly.
When Chambers was reinserted into the game midway through
the fourth quarter, Bohl said it looked like a different offense all together.
The results certainly back that up.
No. 12 led the Cowboys on a 6-play, 92-yard drive that culminated with that Eberhardt scoring strike. On the next drive, Chambers took the Cowboys 50 yards in just six plays. This time, he took care of the scoring himself, waltzing into the end zone from 15 yards out.
The third and final drive of the game had all the makings of
Tyler Hall returned the kickoff 36 yards. Wide receiver, Dontae Crow, then snagged a 34-yard pass and was one missed tackle from giving the Cowboys a late lead. Wyoming went 45 yards in six plays.
The seventh play, however, would come up just short.
The Pokes finished three yards from perfection in the
Chambers could’ve patted himself on the back – his teammates
sure did. But he didn’t. He isn’t taking any credit for the “spark” his head
coach was looking for. Most pointed to the was he unselfishly handled his
Chambers wasn’t going there either.
Instead, he pointed to one moment that changed things for
him, he said, and the entire sideline.
“What really, really got us going was seeing our brother, Logan (Harris), on the field,” Chambers said. “Having to get carried off like that sat wrong with us and got us going.”
Harris, the Cowboys starting guard from Torrington, was
blindsided by a Tulsa defender during the third quarter. The stadium stood
still for at least 10 minutes as the 6-foot, 3-inch, 304-pound lineman was
loaded into an ambulance and taken to a local hospital for further observation.
Wyoming players quietly huddled around. Some were praying,
others looked on in disbelief. Tulsa and its fans followed suit.
For Chambers, that went beyond sitting out two drives. That
went beyond the scrutiny he has been under for not lighting up the scoreboard
with flashy passing stats. In that moment, it certainly didn’t matter where the
team was ranked in national passing statistics.
“We wanted to win that one for Logan,” he said.
They didn’t, but their teammate did make it back to the
airport to fly back with the team to Laramie.
Perspective, Chambers said, is what fuels this team and the never-quit
attitude that comes with that.
“It’s a team game, it’s not about me,” Chambers said. “We are
trying to get to 1-0 every week. If Tyler has to play more snaps, I’m OK with
that. If we win a Mountain West championship with two quarterbacks playing, I’m
OK with that, too.”