Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LOGAN, Utah — It appeared to be an victory for the Cowboy defense.
Utah State's offense was moving at breakneck speed. That is until a holding penalty forced the Aggies into a 3rd-and-27 situation. Surely a punt was coming in the near future.
With the game tied 14-14, Jordan Love took the snap and looked over his options. He scrambled around in the backfield, keeping his eyes downfield. No one was open. Utah State's junior quarterback tucked the ball and headed for the sideline. No, he wasn't trying to make the big play -- he made the smart play.
He picked up 10 yards, giving the Mountain West's all-time leading placekicker, Dominik Eberle, a shot at a 47-yard boot. The senior drilled it and the Aggies went up by three with 2:04 remaining in the first half.
On the Pokes ensuing possession, Tyler Vander Waal zipped a pass just out of the reach of Raghib Ismail Jr. The senior wide receiver tipped the ball right into the awaiting arms of Shaq Bond.
Love promptly connected with his favorite target, Siaosi Mariner, on a 23-yard strike, setting Eberle up for his record-setting 59th converted field goal from 44 yards out.
Utah State took a 20-14 lead into the locker room.
Instead of Wyoming getting off the field and holding the Aggies off the scoreboard, one smart decision from Love led to three points. It didn't decide the game, but it sure didn't help the visitors.
Wyoming tight end Josh Harshman has never been a big go-to target during his career in Laramie. In fact, he had just 23 receptions heading into this season.
Midway through the first quarter, 6-foot, 7-inch redshirt freshman, Jackson Marcotte, went down with a left leg injury. Marcotte has been a big target for Vander Waal both literally and figuratively.
Without the youngster, the fifth-year senior stepped up and made plays. Not just in the passing game, but in run blocking.
Harshman caught a team-high six passes for the Cowboys Saturday. It was his second straight week recording that many catches. He racked up 76 yards, including a long run of 31.
For the fourth consecutive week, Wyoming's workhorse running back, Xazavian Valladay, eclipsed the century mark. Against Utah State, he carried the ball 25 times for 114 hard-earned yards. Harshman had plenty to do with that.
Harshman was not into talking about personal accomplishments Saturday night.
"We had a lot of penalties and turnovers, but I think the biggest thing was we couldn't capitalize in the red zone," he said after Wyoming went 2-for-4 inside the Aggies 20-yard line. "... It's tough. You put everything you have into every game to come just that short."
"There's no doubt. I thought we were uncharacteristic in some things tonight. We normally take care of the ball real well. We had some penalties. I don't want to get into those. I got explanations on them. Some were obvious, some probably not as obvious."
— Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl on the Cowboys mistakes and the officiating after a 26-21 loss to Utah State.
Do you really need to be reminded who is next on the schedule? If so, it's Border War rival, Colorado State. The Bronze Boot is on the line. The Rams will be at War Memorial Stadium Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. This will be the 111th meeting between the two schools. Wyoming has won three straight and seven of the last 10.