Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- Two false starts. Thirteen yards of total offense. A Jamari Ferrell fumble.
That was Wyoming's statline after the first two drives this evening. Craig Bohl's Cowboys added another punt and a DQ James fumble on the ensuing possessions.
"Every checkpoint that I did talk about in the pregame meal of things that we're going to need to do, I was like, did these guys even listen?" the Cowboys' 10th-year head coach said postgame.
Tyler Shough connected on two touchdown passes -- a 33-yarder to Miles Price and a 19-yard heave to Jayden York -- and was a perfect 6-for-6. It took Texas Tech all of 2:31 to build what seemed like an insurmountable 14-0 lead.
The Red Raiders also tacked on a booming 54-yard field goal off the right foot of Gino Garcia.
A 78-minute lightning delay to begin certainly didn't slow these guys down any.
The rout appeared to be on.
"Our main goal is to have clean football," UW quarterback Andrew Peasley said. "You come out and give a team like that -- what was it, 17-0? -- that's dangerous."
The locals were restless. Boo birds, yeah, they were starting to chirp.
"One play at a time," Peasley said he repeated to his offensive unit repeatedly in the huddle.
Wyoming would respond with a modest 9-play, 37-yard drive. That was aided by a Jesiah Pierre personal foul and a nine-yard dash from the Pokes' signal caller on a crucial 3rd-and-8. The drive eventually flamed out at the Texas Tech 37 as the final seconds of the first quarter mercifully ticked off the clock.
John Hoyland, Wyoming's preseason first team All-American placekicker, would be tasked with attempting a career-long field goal boot on the opening snap of the second quarter.
If the junior misses, Tech and its dynamic offense take over with prime field position. This crowd of more than 26,000 heads to the bar and snowball starts cascading downhill. At least that's the way Bohl imagined it.
"I think we were about one or two series away from maybe having a really hard time and having to change our whole DNA," he said. "So, we walked to the edge."
The Broomfield, Colo., product calmly put his red cleat into the ball, drilling a 56-yarder to put the Pokes on the scoreboard. It would've been good from 60-plus. It was a yard better than the one he nailed in last year's home opening victory over Tulsa.
"Yeah, you don't realize how nice it is to have a kicker until they kick those types of field goals," Peasley said with a grin, adding that he "daps" Hoyland up in practice everyday.
Bohl, who ironically coaches Wyoming's kickers, said the turning point in this one, however, was Wrook Brown's interception on the Red Raiders' following drive.
The Texas native read Shough's eyes and broke on the toss from the far hash. He reeled it in, keeping his feet in bounds as he ripped the ball out of the hands of Price near the visiting sideline. The home team was in the end zone five plays later courtesy of a Caleb Driskell snag from four yards out.
"That started to (make us think), 'OK, we can make plays, too,'" Bohl said of that pick. "So, that's when I saw it."
Both were undoubtedly needed. Both provided belief. Both led to the party that ensued.
Wyoming would outscore Tech 10-0 in the second quarter. A 13-play, 76-yard drive out of the halftime locker room followed. Sam Scott took a handoff, made one cut and cruised into the end zone from 16 yards out to tie the game. Hoyland would add another field goal on the next possession. This time a chip shot -- for him -- from 31 yards out.
It was a 20-0 run for the Cowpokes, who would eventually pull off the stunner in double-overtime thanks to a clutch 11-yard touchdown strike on fourth down from Peasley to tight end John Michael Gyllenborg. Scott would barrel his way into the end zone for the dagger on the two-point conversion try.
The party was officially on.
Wyoming 35, Texas Tech 33
Shae Suiaunoa caught plenty of flack for missed tackles last fall. Wyoming's outside linebacker missed 22, if anyone was keeping track at home.
That issue appears to be a thing of the past.
The 6-foot-3, 231-pound Texas product tallied a team-best 12 tackles on the night, including one for loss. He also broke up a pass in the end zone, nearly snagging an interception that would've sealed the win in regulation.
"I just trusted our coaches with tackling techniques," Suiaunoa said. "... I just want to be a lot different than last year because I really didn't like last year's performance too much."
He finished with 73 stops in 2022, which was good enough for second on the team behind Easton Gibbs (121). Suiaunoa also added 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups and an interception.
"We were disappointed in his tackling last year," Bohl said. "He'd be in the right place and then wouldn't wrap up. He missed the spring (recovering from shoulder surgery), so we were concerned about that, but he came back in fall camp and has done much better in body position. I don't know how many tackles he had tonight, but I didn't see him miss very many."
"They're a good football team and you're playing in an environment where, they win a lot of home games. I mean, I told our guys going into this week, they have a better home record the last five years than we do. You know, they play well at home. The one thing that you cannot do is you can't get in 3rd-and-6 and give them a first down on a penalty. You can't have an intersection and give them the ball back on a penalty. So, whether that's at home or on the road, I think that affected this game. I didn't think that we were out of whack on offense because of the crowd noise or anything like that, even though it was loud and they did a great job. We didn't play a very clean game, and when you don't, then you have a chance to get beat. We didn't finish it off tonight. And, you know, again, we cannot allow this game to define who we are."
-- Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire on self-inflicted wounds and a road record over the last season plus that now sits at 1-5.
"We're going to come together after this and be stronger from it. You know, we've got everything we want ahead of us. You know, it's a tough loss and we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and go back to the drawing board. I promise you we're going to be fine the rest of the season. I mean, this game is not going to define us, I promise you"
-- Texas Tech QB Tyler Shough on the mentality of the locker room after this loss at Wyoming
"I love this town. I love this state. This was my dream as a kid. I didn't know what my plan for my last year was, but I'm so glad I came back to play six. To open up like this, man, it's very special for me. I'm excited to see what this season holds for us, but like (Jordan) Bertagnole was saying, we're the WYO boys. It means something to us. It's different. So, I take an immense deal of pride in this win tonight."
-- Wyoming's left tackle and Laramie native Frank Crum on his emotions following tonight's win over the Red Raiders
Portland State limps into Laramie next Saturday after giving up 81 points -- yes, you read that right -- in a blowout loss at No. 15 Oregon. The Ducks rolled up 729 yards of total offense and held the Vikings to just 52 passing yards. PSU's quarterbacks -- Dante Chachere and Logan Gonzalez -- combined to complete just 8-of-20 passes and tossed the lone touchdown of the day for the visitors. Oregon's rushing attack, led by Bucky Irving, gashed the Vikings to the tune of 348 yards on the ground on 34 carries. That's an average of 10.2 yards per carry. PSU (4-8 in 2022) allowed the Ducks to score touchdowns on their first nine possessions of the contest. Wyoming and PSU are scheduled to kickoff at 2 p.m. MST. The game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network. Texas Tech gets to play, you guessed it, Oregon, next week in Lubbock.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players