Three Stars of the Game: Pokes vs. Lobos
LARAMIE -- Wyoming had to have this one.
With No. 24 Fresno State coming to town next Saturday night and trips to Air Force and Boise State on the horizon, a victory over lowly New Mexico was a must.
The Cowboys rolled up 433 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers in a 35-26 win over the Lobos Saturday afternoon in front of 25,000-plus inside a sun-spanked War Memorial Stadium.
These guys listen below are a big reason Wyoming will head into its most important game of the season at 4-1:
1st star: Harrison Waylee - Running Back
Wyoming has a bonafide star in its backfield.
While this program has seen its fair share of talented running backs in the Bohl era -- Brian Hill, Shaun Wick, Nico Evans, Xazavian Valladay and Titus Swen -- but Harrison Waylee appears to have another gear.
The junior transfer from Northern Illinois gashed the Lobos to the tune of 191 yards on just 18 carries. He broke off a 46-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, breaking plenty of tackles in the process. He added a 66-yard jaunt in the fourth but was tripped up before cruising into the end zone.
"You guys are seeing the difference that he makes," Bohl said. "He did get caught today. I'm going to look at that one. He is an explosive weapon ... We just haven't had that. I mean, we've had, OK, you get it going and it's a 12-yard gain. Well, now you've got somebody, if you don't block everything right and he gets to the second level, he can go."
Waylee has appeared in just three games after recovering from offseason knee surgery. All he's done is eclipse the 100-yard mark in every outing, each including a long touchdown run.
The last back to break the century mark in three straight was Valladay. The then-sophomore did that back in 2019.
Waylee now has 457 rushing yards on 53 carries. That's an eye-popping average of 8.6 yards per rush.
Are his teammates already giving him a hard time about being caught from behind? You bet.
"That was the first time," Waylee said with a chuckle, referring to being caught from behind. "I'm definitely taking the 'L' on that one, but I promise that's not going to happen again."
2nd star: Wyett Ekeler - Safety
You might want to block that guy.
Three times Saturday afternoon Wyett Ekeler blew around the right edge of New Mexico's offensive front and laid the lumber on quarterback Dylan Hopkins.
Only two of them counted on the final state line for the Windsor, Colo., product -- the final boom in the third quarter was blown dead thanks to a false start -- but I assure you, the Lobos' senior signal caller felt each and every one of those violent licks.
In fact, Hopkins attempted just one more pass on the afternoon. It was wildly underthrown and was almost picked off by, you guessed it, Ekeler.
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Hopkins was benched before the fourth quarter.
"It was great," said linebacker Easton Gibbs, who led the Cowboys with eight tackles and two pass breakups. "I mean, we just kept running it. He kept coming in ... It was a good scheme by coach (Jay Sawvel). You know, they couldn't seem to pick it up. So, it was a couple of big plays for us. Huge plays for us."
The most impactful sack came late in the first half with New Mexico driving. Lined up on the UW 26-yard line, Ekeler once again flew into the frame unblocked, hammering Hopkins to the turf. The ball popped loose and the junior jumped on it. If he would've noticed the loose change earlier, Ekeler might have been able to scoop and score.
Still, it kept the Lobos off the scoreboard.
Ekeler finished the day with four tackles, including three solo stops. He also broke up a pass to go along with those two official sacks and a forced fumble.
3rd star: Andrew Peasley - Quarterback
Andrew Peasley suffered one of the worst performances of his career in a 22-19 victory over Appalachian State last Saturday.
He completed just 5-of-15 passes for 31 yards. The Cowboys' senior quarterback also tossed an interception early in the fourth quarter that was returned for a touchdown.
Rhythm and tempo were nonexistent from the jump. Wide receivers didn't get open, reads weren't made, throws weren't executed.
It was as ugly as it sounds.
Peasley shouldered the blame despite still dealing with a sore right shoulder.
He said he was "100% healthy" this week. Bohl concurred.
Peasley completed his first seven passes of the afternoon. Offensive coordinator Tim Polasek called five throws on the Cowboys' first six snaps. He finished 16-of-25 through the air. He tacked on 194 yards. He also added a 46-yard touchdown pass to Ayir Asante and found the end zone from two yards out in the first quarter.
"I'm just thankful that they have trust in me to, you know, have a rough week the week before -- the offense was struggling -- but just to come out and start off with a pass play is a big statement for me ... So, yeah, I'm very thankful that we started out very well. We played good today."
Peasley, who has won all four games he has started this fall, has now thrown for 575 yards on the season while completing nearly 56% of his passes. The Oregon product has also thrown six touchdowns, and rushed for three more, compared to just two interceptions.