Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- Montana State made things look entirely way too easy as it marched 75 yards in just five plays late in the fourth quarter.
Isaiah Ifanse gashed the Cowboys for back-to-back runs of 21 yards. A facemask penalty gave the visitors 15 free ones. Lance McCutcheon hauled in a one-handed pass near the goal line as he was falling to the ground.
Bobcat signal caller Matthew McKay fired a strike to tight end Treyton Pickering one play later to give MSU a 16-12 lead with just 2:17 left on the clock.
The Pokes were cooked, right?
Sean Chambers wasn't exactly torching the Bobcats' secondary early in this one. Wyoming's redshirt sophomore quarterback tossed an interception right into double coverage on the Cowboys' first drive of the afternoon. He also missed a wide open Alex Brown racing down the sideline in the third. There were other misfires, too.
"I'm sure I was a little off," Chambers said. "I missed some throws, you know, whatever. That's just how football goes."
It's that laidback attitude that led to what came next.
Calm and collected, Chambers began to pick apart the Montana State defense at just the right time. He hit Joshua Cobbs with a 24-yard strike to get the offense moving. He connected with his favorite target, Ayden Eberhardt, for nine more. Facing a 3rd-and-3 at the Bobcat 36, Chambers put the ball only where tight end Parker Christensen could haul it in. It was good for nine yards and a crucial first down.
Then came the most clutch throw of his career.
Lined up in the shotgun, Chambers took the snap, took two steps back and two more to his right. He locked eyes with his tight end Treyton Welch, who was racing past an MSU linebacker on the post route.
The ball was perfect. The catch, even better.
As Welch pointed skyward and celebrated the 21-yard game-winning touchdown with his teammates, Chambers pumped his fist and took a moment to himself.
"I liked the matchup right there in the slot," Chambers said with a smile. "Treyton, I told you guys, he's a playmaker ... I knew that I had to just give him a chance and he made the play."
Wyoming left Montana State just 47 seconds and 75 yards to work with. That turned into 80 when the 27,000-plus in attendance caused an MSU lineman to jump on the opening play of the final drive. The Bobcats made it to the 50-yard line, but time wasn't on their side.
"I give Sean a lot of credit because, while that was not a pick-six, it turned into a six," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said of that early interception. "I thought he responded well to be able to come up with a two-minute drive."
Disaster averted. Confidence gained.
Wyoming 19, Montana State 16
When the Wyoming coaching staff brought in Texas State transfer Clayton Stewart this offseason, Ralph Fawaz said he expected to receive some competition at the punter spot. After all, he said, this is college football. Nothing is given. The freshman from Oklahoma was named the starter by Bohl last week and played in his first collegiate game this afternoon. Boy, was he good, too. Fawaz punted six times against Montana State, averaging 45.7 yards per boot. He boomed a long of 54 and dropped five kicks inside the Bobcats' 20-yard line. Heck of a Debut for the Okie.
Freshman cornerback, Cameron Stone, also deserves a shoutout here. When starter Azizi Hearn was ejected for targeting in the first quarter, the Texas native stepped in and didn't miss a beat in his first significant action out on an island. Stone finished with two tackles in the win.
"I've been here for a very long time, and never did I ever, ever, ever think that that would happen. And to see that happen, I think it showed a lot of, I guess, trust that Bohl has with us now, as a team, and that they believe in us. So, I think that was an extra little boost. You know, I kind of liked it. I'm not going to lie. I like the I like the gold and the white. I thought it looked pretty clean."
— Wyoming super senior wide receiver Ayden Eberhardt on Wyoming's alternate gold jerseys the team wore in the season opener. Bohl has never used another uniform in his eight seasons in Laramie than the traditional brown tops with gold pants.
Who saw this coming? Northern Illinois, a program that went 0-6 last season and has lost eight of its last 10, is currently knocking off Georgia Tech 14-7 in Atlanta. Wyoming will travel to DeKalb next Saturday to tangle with the Huskies for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff. These two teams have met just one time before. That came back in 2016. Remember Josh Allen diving into the end zone in the wee hours of Sunday morning to clinch the 40-34 triple-overtime victory?