Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
PROVO, Utah -- Football is a game of momentum, Wyoming quarterback Andrew Peasley proclaimed during his postgame press conference, and for the better part of the first half Saturday night, that all-important aspect resided on the visiting sideline.
The Cowboys were dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the 19th-ranked team in the land. The passing game, efficient. A 21-plus point underdog coming into this one, Peasley and Co. -- for the third straight outing -- scored on its opening drive. That was a 28-yard field goal off the right foot of John Hoyland.
Two drives later, Wyatt Wieland would find the end zone from six yards out on a jet sweep.
"We had it in the beginning," Peasley continued. "You could feel it. You could see it."
Wyoming led 10-7 with under four minutes to go, but a stalled drive would force a punt. That meant giving the ball back to Jaren Hall.
The Cowboys forced consecutive third-and-long situations, but BYU's junior quarterback always seemed to have an answer. A 3rd-and-8 turned into a 23-yard strike to Keanu Hill. Puka Nacua hauled in a 13-yard pass on a 3rd-and-6.
With the ball resting at the UW 18-yard line and just 19 seconds remaining on the clock, Hall converted a 3rd-and-7 throw to Brayden Cosper. That one went for 15.
BYU finished the night 7-for-13 on that money down.
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Hall and Cosper would hook up again two snaps later. It took an official review, but the junior wide receiver did get a foot down in the end zone with just four ticks on the game clock.
The Cougars marched 76 yards on 13 plays. They burned 3:28 off the clock. More importantly, they took the lead into the break.
"Jaren’s smart, and he has a great football IQ. He understands the game," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said postgame. "I give a lot of credit to him tonight, Wyoming does some difficult things up front, but I thought Jaren was able to be smart with the ball and I thought he went to the right people."
Hall, unfortunately for the Cowboys, was just getting started.
The third quarter featured two Wyoming punts and a pair of BYU touchdowns.
Hall led the Cougars on back-to-back nine-play drives. He hit Kody Epps in the end zone from three yards out on the first possession. Hill then hauled in his first of the night from nine yards out, giving BYU a commanding 28-10 lead.
Was that score just before the half the main turning point in this one?
"Yes and no," UW defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole added. "I mean, it's always a big momentum shift when you're not the last team to score and you go down at halftime"
"It's tough," added tight end Treyton Welch, who snagged a 19-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. "It's tough."
Craig Bohl isn't so sure that is what turned the tide in this one.
Wyoming's ninth-year head coach pointed to an incomplete pass on 4th-and-4 from the Cowboys' 41-yard line with 8:11 to go and his team trailing, 28-17.
"Yeah, but I still felt like we were in a one-possession game," Bohl said. "I really thought that the opportunity we had was when they went for it on fourth down about the 40-yard line and we got off the field there. I thought, OK, that one may cost them. We went three and out."
With 7:07 to go, Bohl decided to punt.
Three plays later Hill was celebrating with his teammates after outracing the UW secondary for a 68-yard score. Hall completed 26-of-32 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns.
"We didn't play our best game," Bohl said. "There were some things that we did OK. You can’t come on the road, play in a hostile environment, play a ranked team and just play OK. We need to bounce back. We have a lot to play for next week in another conference game.”
BYU 38, Wyoming 24
Oluwaseyi Omotosho finished the night with just four tackles, including one for loss.
The stats aren't exactly staggering, but the redshirt freshman from Houston was a nuisance all night long and showed that, along with Braden Siders and DeVonne Harris, this youthful UW pass rush could pose a big problem for teams in Mountain West play.
The 6-foot-2, 246-pound defensive end tallied three of his tackles while chasing Hall all over the field. With 8:44 to go in the third quarter, it appeared BYU's signal caller had a path way into the end zone. That's when No. 44 flew into the screen, yanking Hall out of bounds before he could reach the pylon.
Omotosho has nine tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble on his resume so far this season.
"We knew it was going to be a physical game and, after last week, it felt good to get hit in the mouth a little bit and respond better. I appreciate the style of football Wyoming plays because you can’t hide from it. I think the guys answered the call tonight. We are a much better team tonight than we were last week, but we need to keep building off this and fix those mistakes that were made."
-- BYU head coach Kalani Sitake on the bounce-back performance of his team after losing 41-20 at Oregon the week prior
"I love it man. There's a lot of love on this team and I feel like everyone has each other's back, including the coaches. you know, after the game my first thing was let's go win this conference because everyone wants it really bad. We all care more than anything. We're all in there preparing. There's a lot of opportunity for us and, you know, we've been called young. You know, being a new guy, people don't know but I'm coming into this and I want to win. So, I think we have that opportunity to do so."
-- An emotional UW quarterback Andrew Peasley talking about the resolve of this Cowboy football team after Saturday night's setback in Provo
The Cowboys will return to Laramie -- and Mountain West Conference play -- next Saturday, playing host to San Jose State. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network. Wyoming leads the all-time series 7-5 but the Spartans have won four of the last five meetings. SJSU hammered visiting Western Michigan 34-6 Saturday night. QB Chevan Cordeiro, who transferred from Hawaii in the offseason, completed 17-of-28 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Kairee Robinson.