Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- On the second play of the fourth quarter, the visitors made this one interesting.
A little too interesting if you were one of the 22,863 in attendance inside War Memorial Stadium or at home throwing empty beer cans at your flat screen.
Northern Colorado, planted at the Pokes' 6-yard line, busted out some trickeration to find the end zone for the first time all afternoon. It started with a pitch to the left, a reverse to the right and a connection from wide receiver Trevis Graham to quarterback Jacob Sirmon to pull the Bears within 16-10 with just 14:48 remaining.
After forcing a Wyoming punt, UNC (0-2) would start its next crucial drive at its own 21.
Could the Bears, a 23-plus point underdog, really drive 79 yards and take a lead a week after losing at home to a Houston Baptist squad that went winless in 2021?
Sirmon tossed three straight incompletions and a kick-catch interference call would set Andrew Peasley and the Cowboys up at midfield. Dawaiian McNeely and Titus Swen took care of the next 25 yards of offense.
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Joshua Cobbs tacked on the next 17 with a one-handed grab near the sideline, tapping one toe on the green before being shoved out of bounds.
Did the sophomore know he made the catch?
"Yes, sir," he said. "We do that a lot in practice, you know, coming down and making sure you stay in bounds on the catch."
Turns out that was an audible.
"Yeah, I thought that was big," said Peasley, who finished the day 19-of-30 for 144 yards through the air. "You know, that's just kind of a call with us. That's a run play. You know, I'm checking to Josh to give him a chance. I thought I missed the ball a little too much to the sideline and he made a spectacular catch. It was good. It sparked everyone."
One again, the drive would stall at the 9-yard line. Once again, John Hoyland would hammer home a field goal, this one from 35 yards out -- his fourth 3-pointer of the afternoon.
Why was that significant? For one, it took nearly seven minutes of the clock. Secondly, it was now a two-possession game.
Wyoming (2-1) would force a turnover on downs on the Bears' next drive. One snap later, Swen darted into the end zone from 22 yards out to all but put this one to bed.
The junior from Fort Worth wasn't down there, though.
Weakside linebacker Shae Suiaunoa snagged his first-career interception on UNC's ensuing drive. He returned it to the 2-yard line. Again, Swen took care of the rest, following a host of blockers into the brown-and-gold paint for his third touchdown of the day.
"There were some big-time plays and we've been waiting for that," UW head coach Craig Bohl said, referring to the snag by Cobbs and a 26-yard beauty that Wyatt Wieland scooped off the ground in the third quarter that led to Wyoming's first touchdown of the game. "I mean, you just kept on going, we look pretty pedestrian out there actually, offensively. And I know maybe some people become frustrated, that's part of football. And sooner or later you're going to have a couple guys rise up and make some plays and they did."
Wyoming 33, Northern Colorado 10
This honor goes to Caden Barnett.
The 6-foot-5, 308-pound redshirt freshman from Justin, Texas, was put in a tough spot early in the second quarter when he was forced to enter the game for an injured Frank Crum. The reserve right tackle played a few snaps in the season opener at Illinois but didn't get off the bench in last week's 40-37 double-overtime victory over Tulsa.
Now, he's in the trenches and could be for the foreseeable future depending on Crum's status moving forward.
"Caden has done a good job for us," Bohl said. "He's strong, athletic and he's stout. You know, that right side has been good, because Emanuel (Pregnon) is a good blocker. That combination between Frank and him has been good. But we were encouraged. We were able to get some things going."
"I could say that, but I was frustrated that we got sacked. I mean, damn it, in that situation, to get sacked, I was like, screw it. We're going to go in there and make some adjustments and get after it in the second half. Thanks for putting me in a bad mood."
-- UW head coach Craig Bohl responded to the question of why he wasn't more aggressive at the end of the first half with the ball near midfield, three timeouts at his disposal and a kicker who made a 55-yarder last Saturday.
The Cowboys will open Mountain West play next Friday night against Front Range rival Air Force. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside War Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. These two programs have met 59 times. The Falcons hold a 30-26-3 edge in the series and have won two straight. Both of those games were played in Colorado Springs. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 meeting in Laramie. Troy Calhoun's Falcons boat raced in-state rival Colorado today 41-10, racking up 435 rushing yards in the rout.
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