Turning Point, Unsung Hero and What’s Next for UW Football
FORT COLLINS, Colo., -- Tory Horton's first-career touchdown came against Wyoming.
That was in the 2020 season opener when the then-freshman wideout snagged a 26-yarder in a 37-31 overtime victory.
He played for Nevada then.
Horton, once again, opened the scoring against the visiting Cowboys Saturday night inside Canvas Stadium. Now a member of the Colorado State football squad, following his head coach, Jay Norvell, from Reno to Fort Collins in the offseason, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior returned a first-quarter punt 72 yards for a touchdown.
He sidestepped a would-be tackle from long snapper Read Sunn. Then he weaved his way through a UW return unit that was never within his grasp until punter Clayton Stewart finally whiffed on the speedster inside the 10-yard line.
"You know, 14 is a phenomenal player," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said postgame. "He may be the most skilled player in our league."
Horton also added eight receptions for 168 yards. That's an average of 21 yards per catch. He also reeled in a 40-yarder on the final play of the first half that nearly turned into disaster for the visitors.
With seven seconds left, CSU signal caller Clay Millen fired an overhead strike into the chest of Horton, who was standing inside the UW 20. After eluding yet another tackler, Horton hit the gas and started sprinting toward the far pylon. It appeared he had the angle -- and speed -- to get the corner.
"OK, he's not fixing to get a touchdown," said UW cornerback Jakorey Hawkins, who was clocked at an SEC-best 23 miles per hour during a game last fall while playing at Ole Miss. "I know there are zero seconds left so I knew me stopping him on that play we would be good and go into the half. We did give up a lot of yards on that play, but him not scoring was the biggest thing."
That's an understatement.
If Horton finds the end zone with triple zeroes on the clock, the Rams likely take a 17-7 lead into the break.
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Bohl, asked if he was worried, watching that frantic play transpire, said "Yeah, I don't know if I puckered up, but I was watching."
Those were both potentially game-altering plays from the Fresno, Calif., product, but the turning point in this one came with roughly 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Horton, set to handle another punt return, back-peddled inside his own 15-yard line as he awaited the Stewart boomer to drop. It did. Right between the 1 and the 4. It bounced off and ricocheted right into the arms of Miles Williams.
He plays for Wyoming.
Two snaps later, back-up quarterback Jayden Clemons took the shotgun snap, looked to his left and perfectly-placed a 32-yard pass right into the hands of a leaping Alex Brown, who landed in the end zone, giving the Cowboys a 14-13 lead.
It was the first-career touchdown pass for Clemons. That was Brown's initial score, too.
It was also a lead Wyoming wouldn't relinquish.
"Obviously, it was huge," Bohl said of Horton's mishandling. "You know, that flipped the field over ... But nonetheless, the muffed punt, I think it kind of neutralizes the other punt return. That was huge."
The Bronze Boot, for the sixth time in seven seasons, resides in Laramie. This turn of events is a major reason why.
Wyoming 14, CSU 13
This honor goes to Gavin Meyer and Caleb Robinson.
If you aren't quite familiar with those names, that's OK. They were going to see the field plenty this fall but only when Cole Godbout and Jordan Bertagnole needed a blow. Godbout has missed the last four games with a lower-leg injury. Saturday night in Fort Collins, fellow defensive tackle Bertagnole, who registered six tackles and a pair of sacks, went down in the second half with an undisclosed injury and never returned.
Meyer and Robinson held down the fort.
Meyer, a 6-foot-4, 279-pound sophomore, tallied seven tackles in the win over the Rams. Robinson, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound run stuffer, finished with just one, but it came on a 3rd-and-6 deep in UW territory.
We have no idea when Godbout will be back. We have no idea what Bertagnole's status is for next Saturday. What we do know is, the reserves are ready.
"We haven't been good enough and mature enough and haven't coached well enough to help our kids find ways to score enough. That's frustrating, because I think if we could play a little bit better complimentary football, we could have several more wins. That's just the honest truth. We just haven't been good enough in some areas, and that's very frustrating to say the least."
-- CSU head coach Jay Norvell on his offense failing to score a touchdown Saturday night in a 14-13 loss to Border War rival Wyoming
"This game, it's probably the hardest loss I've ever had playing football -- ever. This one hurts more than anything. It hurts because we had it in our grasp, and we were only a couple plays away. This one stinks. This game means everything to us, and it's tough to walk away with a loss. You can't do anything about it now, but you have to focus on the next game. We have another trophy game next week. Air Force, in-state rivalry. We just have to focus on that now."
-- CSU defensive back Henry Blackburn on losing the 114th Border War to Wyoming
It's safe to say the Cowboys next game on the schedule is as big or bigger than Boise State's visit to War Memorial Stadium in 2016. You remember that night, right? Josh Allen completed 18-of-31 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns and Chase Appleby put the exclamation point on a 30-28 victory over the No. 13 Broncos thanks to a late safety, whipping the crowd into a field-storming frenzy. That win propelled the Pokes into first place in the Mountain Division and eventually the conference title game. That could happen again this Saturday night on the high plains. The Broncos enter at 6-0 in the league. Wyoming, 5-1. The winner takes over the top spot with one week remaining in the regular season. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players