Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- "Coach, I got ya."
That's what placekicker John Hoyland told Craig Bohl before trotting onto the field to attempt a career-long 55-yard field goal with 10:53 remaining in regulation and Wyoming trailing 34-24.
Cool, calm and collected, the sophomore from Broomfield put red shoe to leather and sailed the kick right through the uprights to cut the Tulsa lead to seven. Hoyland, who admitted earlier in the week that he needs to work on his celebrations, simply pumped his right fist before being ambushed by his teammates.
"The confidence is built-in," Hoyland said. "... I just really appreciated that he has that confidence in me to attempt all these field goals."
Asked if it was the turning point in this one, Bohl didn't hesitate.
"I went down (the sideline) and I talked to John," Wyoming's ninth-year head coach said, cracking a smile and adding that he "supervises" the kickers. "I knew where we were at on the field and I said, 'OK, John' and he looked at me straight face and said, 'coach, I got ya' and nailed it, which was pretty impressive. I know there was electricity that spread along the sidelines, because now we're in a one-possession game. A 55-yard field goal is pretty spectacular for us."
Bohl isn't the only one who thought that boot served as a momentum shifter.
"I mean, they had a really long field goal in there," Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery said postgame. "It was a 50-something yard field goal and that's generally a pretty tough kick. That helped them get a lot of momentum there."
Of course, there was a lot more drama in this one. After Hoyland's blast, Tulsa drove to the UW 31-yard line. There, Golden Hurricane kicker Zack Long would miss a 49-yard attempt, leaving the door cracked for the home team. It wouldn't be his last.
Three snaps later, Andrew Peasley connected on a 51-yard touchdown strike to a streaking Joshua Cobbs, who got behind the Tulsa defense.
Tie ball game.
It got weirder.
Driving deep in visiting territory, obviously well within Hoyland's range, UW running back Titus Swen was stripped near the 5-yard line. Tulsa recovered with 1:45 remaining in regulation. In other words, an eternity for its quick-strike offense that finished this game with 521 yards of total offense, including 460 through the air.
Quarterback Davis Brin hit Keylon Stokes on a slant route and he was off to the races. Luckily for the Cowboys, cornerback Cam Stone didn't give up on the play, belting Stokes from his blindside and causing a fumble with just over a minute to go.
Wyoming would get all the way to the Tulsa 27-yard line. A confident Hoyland was about to end it, sending 20,000-plus to the turnstiles with a smile.
His attempt hammered the right upright and bounced right back out. This one was bound for overtime.
"John's kicked a 'kazillion' of those and he'll make every one, but he has never hit the goalpost," Bohl laughed. "I was like, OK, this is something."
"I've had lucky breaks, good breaks and bad breaks with uprights," Hoyland added. "Unfortunately, it was a bad kind of break this time."
Hoyland and Long traded 25-yard field goals in the first overtime. Wyoming's kicker added a 30-yarder in the second frame. Long got his next shot four snaps later from 43 yards out. It sailed wide left.
Hoyland, who scored the Cowboys' only points in a season-opening 38-6 loss last Saturday at Illinois, finished the day 4-of-5.
Wyoming 40, Tulsa 37 - Double overtime
Bohl issued a challenge to his team this week -- Start strong and finish stronger. That message was delivered before a grueling Tuesday practice that was more physical than usual, coming off a lopsided loss in Champaign.
Jordan Bertagnole heeded that call.
The Defensive tackle from Casper swam past Tulsa's starting center and wrapped up Brin in the backfield, causing a fumble that was scooped up by Easton Gibbs 28 yards later in the end zone.
That came on the second snap of the game for the visitors.
"Definitely coming out strong and getting that defensive touchdown was huge," said Bertagnole, who finished with five tackles, including that sack and another tackle for loss.
Fellow interior lineman Cole Godbout had a chance to pick up the loose change and rumble in for the score, instead he inadvertently kicked it down the field. Bertagnole joked that he was on his way to the locker room to heckle his running mate.
"I gave him the benefit of the doubt," he said with a smile. "I said we wouldn't have scored it unless he kicked it into the end zone, so I gave him that."
"It's frustrating for me sometimes and I will get a little defensive when I hear some undue criticism of a guy that is out there working hard. I got news for you guys, he ain't got no six-figure NIL deal, alright. He plays for Wyoming because he loves it. So, it strikes a nerve with me and I'm happy for him."
-- UW head coach Craig Bohl responding to outside criticism of QB Andrew Peasley after he completed just 5-of-20 passes for 30 yards and an interception in a 38-6 Zero-Week loss at Illinois
Denver Broncos legend Ed McCaffrey and his Northern Colorado Bears will make the trek up Highway 287 for a 2 p.m. kickoff next Saturday inside War Memorial Stadium. The Pokes are 18-5-3 all-time against the Bears. UW has outscored UNC 569-167 in those meetings. They got a big boost in that department during the 1949 season when Wyoming rolled to a 103-0 victory in Greeley. Yes, 103-0. That's a record.
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