Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- Avery Williams made a mistake?
That doesn't happen.
Boise State' all-world special teams standout already blocked a punt in the second quarter. Nick Null, Wyoming's kick-off specialist and punter avoided Williams for most of the night like the coronavirus, too. The opening kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Broncos the ball at the 35-yard-line.
He's that dangerous.
Back to that mistake.
At first, it appeared to be a Null mistake. With his heels on the back line of his own end zone, the senior transfer from Cornell lofted a high, spiraling kick into the snowy night sky. It was going to land in play. The scary area where No. 26 hangs out.
Then, this happened:
Wyoming's Brett Brenton jumped on the ball and the Cowboys were in business at the 46.
The Pokes trailed 10-3 mid-way through the third quarter. Now, they had the ball and the momentum.
On the first offensive snap of the series, Levi Williams heaved a pass down the seem. There, Xazavian Valladay turned for the ball and leaped, snagging a 29-yard pass, by far the Cowboys' biggest pass play of the evening.
Trey Smith eventually picked up six more yards to set freshman kicker John Hoyland up from 36 yards out.
This was a 10-6 game and the Cowboys' defense, which had played so well all game, needed a stop.
It didn't happen.
Hank Bachmeier marched the Broncos 75 yards on 11 plays. Boise State's signal caller was 4-for-6 on the drive and hit Khalil Shakir down the sideline for 33 yards on a 3rd-and-5. The drive was aided by a bizarre pass interference call on Azizi Hearn near the goal line, but that didn't matter much. The Broncos were knocking on the door.
Andrew Van Buren, who finished the night with 79 yards on 25 carries, plunged across the white stripe to increase the visitor's lead to 17-6.
The Cowboys would manage one more Hoyland field goal but could never get closer than that.
Boise State 17, Wyoming 9
DeVonne Harris isn't exactly a household name.
In fact, if it wasn't for injuries, suspensions and opt outs, the redshirt freshman might not have even been on the field tonight. The Minnesota native responded by registering a career-high five tackles, including one for loss.
Harris was in the Broncos' backfield most of the night, but his most impressive play came in the first half when Bachmeier set up a perfect screen pass to the dynamic Shakir.
There were blockers in front and plenty of snow-covered turf. That is until big No. 93 came out of nowhere and took the Boise State wide receiver down. If he didn't catch him, it was likely an early touchdown for the Broncos.
It was an impressive hustle play from a guy who came into this one with just four tackles all season.
“We had different guys in quarantine for 14 days because they rode behind someone in a bus. It was the most trying year I've ever had as a coach.”
— Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl on navigating a bizarre season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCAA's early signing day is Wednesday. So far, Wyoming has 16 new recruits who are expected to ink with the program. This bizarre 2020 campaign has come to an end. The Cowboys played six of their eight scheduled games. Only two of those came inside War Memorial Stadium. Will Craig Bohl's bunch actually have a spring football season? How many of UW's 11 seniors played their last game in brown and gold? Will there be staff changes? There are plenty of questions that will follow the Pokes into an offseason still filled with so many unknowns because of the virus.