COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., -- Aside from a stretch of nearly five minutes Saturday night, Wyoming's offense struggled mightily.

The defense had its tough moments, too.

Ultimately it was a surprise passing attack coupled with multiple extended drives that led to the Cowboys first loss of the season, a 24-14 setback inside Falcon Stadium on the campus of the Air Force Academy.

Wyoming (4-1, 0-1) didn't have many breakout performances in this one. Xazavian Valladay, the Cowboys junior tailback, did move into fifth place all-time on the school's rushing list and broke a 74-yard run that gave the visitors a spark late in the first half, but there were a few other performances that stood out to me in this one.

Here's my subjective list of the Cowboys' three stars of the night:

 

1st star: Jordan Bertagnole - Defensive tackle

Jordan Bertagnole drew the unenviable task Saturday night of stuffing the Air Force fullbacks. In many ways, that's the key to taking away one element of the triple-option attack the Falcons' have mastered over the last six-plus decades. The redshirt freshman from Casper, who hasn't registered a tackle since the home-opening win over Montana State, was up for the challenge. Bertagnole tallied eight tackles, including four solos, and recovered a fumble late in the first quarter. For a guy who battled injuries all throughout spring and fall camp, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder, saved his best performance for the Mountain West opener, helping hold the Falcons to just 211 rushing yards, 156 below their average of 367, which leads the nation.

 

 

2nd star: CJ Coldon - Cornerback

Haaziq Daniels had wide receiver Micah Davis on the post route. Gliding into the end zone and preparing to haul in the touchdown pass, Wyoming's CJ Coldon made up ground in a hurry to cause enough of a distraction to cause Davis to lose track of the ball and drop it. Coldon also broke up another sure-catch down the sideline late in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys' 6-foot-1, 180-pound corner also registered six tackles, including five of the solo variety. Air Force threw the ball just 10 times Saturday, but rarely was it in the direction of Coldon, who has quickly become one of the top defensive backs in the Mountain West. He isn't a one-trick pony, either. Coldon has 26 tackles through five games.

 

3rd star: Ayden Eberhardt - Wide receiver

Yes, I know Isaiah Neyor has more receiving yards and the Cowboys' lone touchdown grab, but super senior Ayden Eberhardt has established himself as Sean Chambers' go-to pass catcher this season -- especially on third down. Eberhardt snagged a team-high four passes Saturday night for 43 yards. The Colorado native hauled in a 12-yard pass on a 3rd-and-10 late in the third quarter to extend a Wyoming drive. That was one of just three third-down conversions (3-of-12) on the night for the visitors. Simple out routes and finding the soft spot in the zone have been Eberhardt's specialty so far this season. He's become the ultimate safety outlet for Chambers, though he has shown he can also make the big play.

Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium

Did you know it would take the populations of Gillette (32,857), Laramie (32,381), Rock Springs (23,319), Sheridan (17,844) and Wright (1,200) to create a sellout inside Michigan's famed 107,601-seat Big House, the largest college football stadium in the nation?

For those of you not familiar with the Cowboy State, those are Wyoming's third through sixth most inhabited cities, along with the small mining town in Campbell County.

- Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium