Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- Once again, New Mexico was driving.
It was their third straight trip into Wyoming territory. Sheriron Jones was starting to get hot. He connected on a 25-yard hookup with Jordan Kress to begin the drive. Bryson Carroll was picking up chunks on the ground and Emmanuel Logan-Greene got in on the act, snagging a pair of passes to the Cowboys' 29-yard line.
That was as far as the Lobos would get.
On 4th and 3, trailing just 7-0 in third quarter, New Mexico head coach Bob Davies rolled the dice.
He came up snake eyes.
Ahmari Davis took the handoff and was immediately met in the backfield by Wyoming strong safety Esaias Gandy and dumped for a loss.
"Any time you stop a team on fourth down is huge," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said during his post-game press conference.
Wyoming would take over on downs at its own 30 and march 70 yards on nine plays. Xazavian Valladay finished the job with a three-yard waltz into the end zone. The Cowboys went up 13-0 and never looked back.
Valladay finished the afternoon with 129 yards on 33 carries, and Sean Chambers rolled to a game-high 141 on 18 rushes. Chambers completed 9-of-15 passes for 86 yards and capped his day with a 15-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Josh Harshman.
"Sean went out there and made some big plays following that and that helped us win," Bohl added. "He really showed a lot of guts and determination."
The Cowboys' offense converted a season best 11-of-18 third downs and held the Lobos (2-5, 0-3) to just 4-of-12 in that same category.
Gandy not only made a big play on that fourth down attempt, he was also a catalyst in the Pokes' lone takeaway of the game. Rome Weber stripped the ball out of Carroll's hands in the first quarter, Gandy recovered.
Four plays later, Chambers was standing all alone in the end zone and the Pokes (5-2, 2-1) were on the board.
Wyoming 23, New Mexico 10
Tim Zaleski is probably best known for his Not Top-10 blooper on ESPN. You remember that one, when he whiffed on a punt at Iowa in 2017. It was played on loop on nearly every station.
Well, today the junior was forced into action after Ryan Galovich took a nasty hit on his second punt of the day.
Galovich, by the way, might have saved the entire narrative of this game. He ripped a terrible snap out of the sky with one hand, pulled it down and got the kick off before it was blocked.
Unfortunately for him, that's when he got blasted into the turf. New Mexico got the roughing the punter call, Wyoming kept possession.
Punting duties now belonged to Zaleski, who averaged 44.5 yards per boot. He was solid all afternoon, kicking into a swirling wind that reached up to 22 miles per hour.
"That was a concern," Bohl said about the Cowboys punting game once Galovich went down. "I thought Tim did a nice job."
Punters never get any love. That changed today. Both of these guys get a game ball.
“I take away that we continue to race against the clock for individual improvement, which will lead to having enough team improvement to win a game. Probably, big picture, we made some improvement today.
— New Mexico head coach Bob Davies on what he learned about his team Saturday afternoon in Laramie.
The Nevada Wolf Pack are coming to town. As of this writing, they have yet to kickoff against Utah State. The last time the boys from Reno came to Laramie was in 2015. You might recall that wasn't exactly a good season for the home team. Wyoming won just two games that year, beating both Nevada schools at War Memorial Stadium. The Wolf Pack suffered a 28-21 setback on a bitterly cold day in the Gem City. Wyoming leads the all-time series, 4-3. The Cowboys have won the last two.