Three stars of the game
LAS VEGAS -- Wow.
Who in the world saw that one coming? New Mexico entered Saturday night's game against the Cowboys the not-so-proud owners of the nation's longest losing streak. That was 14 games.
New Mexico stunned the visiting Pokes 17-16 inside an empty Sam Boyd Stadium, the Lobos' 2020 home thanks to virus restrictions in their home state.
It's not easy to find a ton of positivity after that one, but let's try anyway. Believe it or not, a few guys on the visiting team did standout in this one.
1st star: Esaias Gandy
The Cowboys' hard-hitting safety spent plenty of time near the line of scrimmage against the Lobos. It's easy to see why. They threw the ball just 18 times. That wasn't unexpected with a redshirt freshman, Connor Genal, getting his first career start under center. Gandy finished the night with a team-leading 14 tackles, including one for loss. He wasn't just lightly taking guys down either. He showed up in a foul mood. Gandy showed shades Saturday night of what made Alijah Halliburton so good during his four seasons in Laramie. He showed up on run support all night long.
2nd star: Trey Smith
Let's get the fumble out of the way first. Smith, a sixth-year senior, failed to hold onto the ball deep inside the Lobos' red zone late in the fourth quarter. It was a big mistake. No one knows that more than Smith, who shouldered the blame for the loss. It wasn't his fault, let's be clear on that. Smith was a the featured back with Xazavian Valladay back home in Laramie nursing an injury. All he did in place of the Mountain West's defending leading rusher was tally 154 yards on 24 carries. That's an average of 6.4 yards per touch. He also broke a 58-yard run for a touchdown. Yes, the fumble was a stain on an otherwise impressive two-week resume in Sin City. But Smith was arguably the Cowboys' best player Saturday night. Wyoming wouldn't have even been in this one without No. 7.
3rd star: Easton Gibbs
This honor easily could've gone to Isaiah Neyor or even John Hoyland. Neyor snagged a 54-yard pass. He also took an end-around 58 yards, deep into New Mexico territory. Hoyland was a perfect 3-for-3 on the night. His longest field goal came from 29 yards out. Those guys were good, but Easton Gibbs quietly put together a career night for the Cowboys. And it came unexpectedly. When Chad Muma was tossed from the game for targeting late in the second quarter, Gibbs stepped in and stepped up. The redshirt freshman finished with 10 tackles, including one for loss on a critical 4th and 1 inside the Pokes' 10-yard line. Muma won't miss any of the Boise State game, but he should feel comfortable in knowing anytime he needs a blow, Gibbs is just getting more comfortable by the day.