Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
SAN JOSE, Calif., -- Xazavian Valladay has not looked like himself of late.
It's not him, it's the lack of creases and holes he's been given. Hard to run wild when eight guys are in your face the minute the ball hits your gut, ya know?
The Mountain West's back-to-back leading rusher moved into fourth place on Wyoming's all-time rushing list in last week's loss to New Mexico, despite accounting for just 41 yards on 14 carries. The week prior, the junior finished with just nine carries for 35 yards.
With the Cowboys trailing 20-7 midway through the fourth quarter Saturday, Valladay took the handoff and bounced it to the outside. He shook a San Jose State tackler and received a block that sprung him for a 67-yard dash down the sideline. He was dragged down at the three, but Titus Swen punched it into the end zone one play later.
Unexpected momentum now rested on the visiting sideline.
Now, it was up to the defense to keep it.
The Spartans' series started with Tyler Nevens getting dropped for a loss of one. A Nick Nash incompletion followed. It was 3rd and 11. The Cowboys had them just where they wanted them.
Nash took the snap, showed incredible patience as he waited for the play to develop, then made his move. He darted through the line of scrimmage and eluded a would-be tackler. When the dust settled, SJSU's quarterback was one the ground after a 13-yard gain.
First down, Spartans.
"Their quarterback made some spectacular running plays," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "We knew he was going to be a weapon."
Nash finished this one with 112 yards on just 11 carries. He also scored a touchdown to put the SJSU (5-4, 3-2) on the board in the second quarter.
Later in that same drive, the Cowboys (4-4, 0-4) forced the home team into yet another third-and-long situation. This time, Nash and Co. needed 18 yards. Instead, they picked up 44 on a perfect pass to wide receiver Charlie Ross, who got behind UW cornerback CJ Coldon and landed in the end zone.
"You know, there was some missed assignments, certainly some tackling was not where it needed to be," Bohl said. "I think there was some schematics that we had to make some adjustments on, but (we were) not near as consistent as what we have played on defense."
That was Wyoming's real chance to make hay in this one.
San Jose State 27, Wyoming 21
Let's give some love to the punter here. We've certainly seen a lot of him of late.
Not only did Ralph Fawaz average nearly 50 yards per boot and pin the Spartans inside their own 20 once Saturday in Silicon Valley, he also likely saved an early disaster that would've put this one out of reach before halftime.
After a quick three and out, Fawaz trotted onto the field with just 44 seconds left in the second quarter. The oncoming snap hit the turf a yard or two in front of him. He bent down and scooped up the ball and unleashed a 55-yard kick.
SJSU was already leading 17-7. That could've been big trouble if not for the quick reaction from the freshman from Oklahoma.
Fawaz is averaging nearly 42 yards per punt this season.
"I don't feel like I played very well. You know, those two turnovers were really bad, really costly and frustrating for me. It's just me trying to make a play when there's not one to be made. I just need to eat the ball. Those are on me. You know, this loss, I feel like is on me. You know, points came out of those turnovers. We were close there at the end, but I blame this loss on me."
-- Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams after a 27-21 loss to San Jose State
It's Border War time. And let's be real, this one has lost some luster. Wyoming (4-4, 0-4) is on a four-game skid and Colorado State fell to Boise State 18-19 Saturday night in Fort Collins. This will be the 113th all-time meeting between the longtime rivals. The Rams (3-5, 2-2) knocked off the Pokes 34-24 last November to claim the Bronze Boot for the first time in five season. CSU leads the series 59-48-5. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. inside War Memorial Stadium.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players