Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- While Michael Hughes bobbed his head and swayed his hips to the beat of "Footloose" blaring through War Memorial Stadium's loudspeakers, Oscar Giles was rounding up his unit.
Wyoming's defensive run-game coordinator pointed to a sheet of paper and calmly dished out last-second instructions.
Appalachian State's junior placekicker, who had already connected four times on the night, slowly trotted out to what would soon become ground zero.
"They're not getting five on us."
Those are the words of defensive end DeVonne Harris, who blew through the Mountaineers left guard and center before extending his left hand and batting down a 47-yard attempt that would've given the visitors a commanding eight-point lead with just 2:02 left in regulation.
That block alone gave the home team hope.
A friendly bounce into the awaiting arms of cornerback Jakorey Hawkins and a 62-yard jaunt down the sideline gave them the lead.
"When I saw Jakorey pick it up, I was like 'ain't nobody going to catch him,'" Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said with a smile during his postgame press conference. "It was mad chaos."
Hawkins, who was clocked at 22 miles per hour during his final season at Ole Miss in 2021, said he initially lined up on the left side of the line of scrimmage in preparation for the "max block."
The kick was coming from the opposite hash.
"Something just told me to go to the right side," the senior said.
"With a chance to go up there to make it an eight-point lead, we have it blocked for a touchdown," App State head coach Shawn Clark said. "That's stuff we work on every single day. It didn't work out in our favor."
John Michael Gyllenorg would tack on a crucial 2-point conversion on the following snap after taking a forward pitch on a sweep play. Running back Sam Scott helped push the 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end across the white stripe after he was initially stopped at the 1-yard line.
Joey Aguilar and Co. drove the ball all the way to UW's 20-yard line with just 17 seconds remaining in regulation. Already in field goal range with a chance to tie it, App State's junior signal caller, with heavy pressure in his face, heaved a throw down the middle of the field off his back foot.
Defensive back Wrook Brown skied and snagged the interception with both hands to secure this improbable victory.
All the talk after this one, though, centered around Harris' heroics.
How does the man himself recall the events that turned the tide in this one?
"So, I palmed it and then I'm twisting (to the ground) and I just see out of the corner of my eye J-Hawk picked the ball up," Harris said. "I was like, 'that's a touchdown. That's a touchdown right there.'"
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This block and subsequent scoop-and-score not only pulled what looked to be a sure loss out of the fire, it was also historic.
This program played its first game all the way back in 1893. In 126-plus years of football -- 1,184 games played -- Wyoming has never blocked a field goal and returned it to the end zone. App State has also never in its history been on the receiving end of such turn of events.
"You gotta count on DeVonne," Bohl joked, just seconds after sharing his best impression of the quirky, goggle-wearing junior from Minnesota. "It's a secret weapon."
Easton Gibbs could only shake his head and laugh when asked about Harris.
"Just a simple way to put it, that's DeVonne," the junior linebacker said. "He's that awkward guy who somehow is always in the right spot at the right time and always making plays. We love him. You know, he's a playmaker. This is what he does."
What he did on this night was save the day. Hawkins' breakneck speed took care of the rest.
Wyoming 22, App State 19
Clayton Stewart was a busy guy on Saturday night.
Way too busy.
Wyoming's senior punter was called upon eight times in the win over App State. The Cowboys didn't even have that many first downs (7) in this one. Stewart, a former Texas State transfer, amassed 359 yards -- 151 more than the Cowboys offense -- and averaged 44.9 yards per boot.
Three of those kicks landed inside the Mountaineers' 20-yard line, including dropping one at the App State 1-yard line in the first quarter. He also pinned the visitors at the 10-and 5-yard line.
If there was one blemish on Stewart's night it was a 24-yard shank that gave the Mountaineers the ball at midfield with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. An 18-yard completion on the second snap led to a 49-yard field goal at the buzzer, giving App State a 12-7 lead at the half.
"I just know that I have to be better. And I know we have to play cleaner football. You know, we didn't even get in the red zone on our own, and that's kind of embarrassing by us. I think we need to be more efficient. I mean, that's what I'm going to be thinking about all weekend. (I'm going to come) back Monday, happy we have a win. I'm going to enjoy it tonight with my team because we did win. I'm not going to say we got lucky, but, you know, good things happen to good teams."
-- Wyoming QB Andrew Peasley on the Cowboys' offensive woes in this win over the Mountaineers.
"Whatever his stats are, I don't really care. I care about the 1-0 stat. And for anybody who wants to get after Andrew Peasley, you know, we're the Cowboys and you can come attack all of us because it's not a one-man show out there. So, he doesn't deserve any flack. We all have things we have to get better at."
-- UW tackle Frank Crum on criticism of Peasley, who completed just 5-of-15 throws for 31 yards and a pick in the victory.
"Well, we didn't play well enough on offense. You look at it as it goes, we drive the ball down and we get field goals. We had the ball 40-some minutes. Our defense did a great job. We got into some bad situations, gave them the ball at the 18-yard line in the first half and they scored a touchdown. We had to drive the ball down the field and score touchdowns. That's the bottom line."
-- App State head coach Shawn Clark on what went wrong Saturday night in Laramie.
"We beat a really good football team in an unconventional way. We're going to take it, I mean, we're 3-1. So, we're celebrating the win. We have a lot of work to do, but I'm going to enjoy tonight."
-- UW head coach Craig Bohl on a bizarre 22-19 victory over the Mountaineers.
New Mexico (2-2) will pay a visit to War Memorial Stadium for Homecoming to kick off the Mountain West slate next Saturday. Game time is slated for 2 p.m. The Pokes (3-1) and Lobos have played 75 times since 1930. UW holds a slight 39-36 edge and has won four of the previous six meetings, including a 27-17 victory in Albuquerque last fall. New Mexico knocked off UMass on the road 34-31 Saturday night in overtime.