Pokes rout Utah State 44-17, reclaim Bridger’s Rifle
* University of Wyoming athletics media relations release
LOGAN, Utah -- The Wyoming Cowboy offense erupted for 604 yards of offense, which saw balance on the ground and through the air in a 44-17 win over Utah State in Maverik Stadium in Logan, Utah on Saturday.
The Pokes are now Bowl Eligible for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The 604 yards of offense was the most in a game since 694 yards against Fresno State on Nov. 1, 2014.
“I thought it was our most complete game of the year,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said. “We played well in all three phases with explosive plays on offense and, on defense, we stopped the run and challenged their receivers. We did some effective things on special teams, and this was a big win for us.
"This is what we wanted. We hit our stride. This was an important game and we hit a good rhythm tonight.”
The Cowboys retained Bridger’s Rifle Trophy for the third time in the eight meetings since the trophy was introduced.
The Pokes rushed for 362 yards and passed for 242 yards. The Cowboy defense held the aggies to 362yards and only 178 yards passing. Utah State averaged 468 yards of offense per game on the season and 315 yards passing. The Pokes held the Aggies scoreless in the second half, Wyoming also shut out New Mexico in second half earlier this season.
“We thought we were going to have some good matchups along the offensive line and we were pleased with their effort,” Bohl said. “Our defense leveraged our corners tonight and we had great play in the deep middle tonight.”
Wyoming’s offense was paced by running backs Titus Swen and Xazavian Valladay as they both rushed for over 100 yards for the second time in three weeks the Pokes have had two 100 yards rushers in the same game. Swen rushed for 169 yards including a 98-yard touchdown run, which was a school record. Valladay ran for 145 for his 14th career 100-yard game.
Quarterback Levi Williams completed 12-of-15 passes for a season-high 242 yards. He also added two touchdown scores. Wide receiver Isaiah Neyor recorded four grabs for 125 yards and one touchdown. Fellow wide receiver Josh Cobbs recorded a career-high six catches for 76 yards with his first career touchdown.
The Wyoming defense was paced by linebacker Chad Muma with 17 tackles coming one shy of his career-high of 18. It was a season-high for the All-American candidate. Cornerback C.J. Coldon added seven tackles with six from Cole Godbout, as the defensive tackle also added a career-high three pass breakups. Safety Issac White recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter.
After neither team could muster a score on their first crack on offense, the Cowboys scored first on a 40-yard touchdown strike from Williams to Neyor at the 7:47 mark of the first quarter. The drive went six-plays and 64-yards after the Poke defense shut down the Aggies on fourth down. Cobbs recorded two catches for 25 yards on the drive including a 11-yard catch on third down.
The Aggies answered right back with a 11-play, 75-yard drive over 4:09 to tie the contest with 3:38 remaining in the first frame. Logan Bonner found Brandon Bowling for 10-yards for the score. A 22-yard rush from Calvin Tyler Jr. highlighted the drive for the Aggies.
But the tie would not last long as Cameron Stone returned the kickoff 99-yards for the touchdown for the first of his career to give Wyoming the 14-7 lead. It was the first kick return for a touchdown since Tyler Hall did so against Texas State (95-yards) on Sept. 30, 2017. It was the second longest return in school history.
Utah State responded this time it took three plays and 65-yards. Bonner found Devin Thompkins for 41-yards to tie the contest at 14-14 with 2:39 left in the opening Stanza.
Wyoming took a 21-14 lead with 6:50 left in the first half on a 17-yard pass from Williams to Cobbs. It was his first career touchdown. The drive was set up by 27 rushing yards from Swen. Wyoming also executed a quarterback sneak on fourth down the play prior to the score.
The Cowboys forced a three-and-out after the score and tacked on a field goal by John Hoyland to take a 24-14 lead with 1:48 left in the first half. Wyoming went eight plays and went 73 yards for the score. The Aggies added a field goal, as Wyoming took a 24-17 lead into the half.
The Aggies used a 34-yard rush from Tyler, but would later miss snap the ball on a field goal and give the Pokes the ball on the their own 44-yard line. The Pokes wasted little time adding a score, as after a 13-yard rush from Valladay, his fellow back Swen busted a 43-yard rush for a score to give Wyoming a 31-17 lead with 11:56 left in the third quarter.
The Cowboys would make it a 34-17 with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter on Hoyland’s second field goal of the game. Neyor hauled in a 34-yard pass and Valladay added a 33-yard rush to set up the score.
The Pokes would take 41-17 lead on a 98-yard touchdown from Swen in the closing minutes of the third quarter. The longest rush in school history gave Swen 170 yards for the game and gave the Pokes two 100-yard rushers for the second time this season, as Swen and Williams did so against Colorado State.
Wyoming would add a field goal and Hoyland’s fourth field goal of the game for a 44-17 lead in the fourth quarter, as the Pokes would cruise to the 44-17 win.
The Aggies were led by Tyler Jr., as he rushed for 109 yards in the game. Bonner threw for 181 yards and two scores. He was averaging 275 yards passing per game on the season.
Wyoming returns to action next Saturday hosting Hawai’i at 1 p.m. MT inside War Memorial Stadium.
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