Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
BOISE, Idaho -- Xazavian Valladay caught a short pass, turned up field and attempted to cut. Instead, he ended up on the blue turf in Boise, grabbing his ankle in pain.
That was beginning of the sequence that would give Wyoming the lead until late in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys were forced to punt after the Valladay injury. Ryan Galovich's boot was partially blocked by Avery Williams. Boise State was in business near its own 40.
Things appeared to be turning for the worst.
Then, Javaree Jackson took matters into his own hands.
Just when it looked like the No. 22 Broncos were about to seize momentum and take control of this one, the big nose tackle from Wisconsin hammered Boise State running back George Holani in the backfield, forcing a fumble. For good measure, Jackson even recovered the ball.
Tyler Vander Waal and crew marched down to the Boise State 21 yard line thanks to a few nice moves from Raghib Ismail Jr. on a 13-yard reception.
Valladay took care of the rest, following center Keegan Cryder through a gaping hole, making one guy miss and trotting into the end zone to give the visitors a 17-10 lead with 2:35 left in the third.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, that wasn't enough. In fact, it was their last points of the contest.
Boise State 20, Wyoming 17 OT
Maybe you have never heard the name Tim Szpor before.
He came to Wyoming as a quarterback. He will leave Laramie as a four-year holder for Cooper Rothe.
Tonight, the Cowboys might not have even gotten into overtime without the long-haired senior from Fresno, Calif.
With the clock winding down on the first half -- quite literally -- the kicking unit rushed out to the field to set up for a 39-yard boot. The snap was low. Szpor scooped it up and turned the laces at the last second. Rothe's toe hit the ball as Szpor jumped up, put his head down and slapped his hands together.
These guys never get attention, unless they screw up. Szpor did just the opposite to give the Cowboys a 10-7 lead at the half.
“It was a game between two really good football teams. Both teams played really, really hard and you knew it was going to come down to a play or two. You win as a team and you lose as a team. It really hurts when you put it all on the line like our guys did and then come up short."
— Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl on the 20-17 overtime loss to the No. 22 Broncos Saturday night
Wyoming will head back down Interstate-80 for a meeting with Utah State Saturday afternoon in Logan. This game has special meaning. A trophy is on the line. Jim Bridger's rifle, to be exact. The Aggies escaped Fresno State with a last-second field goal, 37-35, Saturday night to move to 5-4 overall and 4-1 in Mountain West play. Utah State is still very much alive in the conference race. They play Boise State the following week. Will Wyoming be up for this one? They better be. Six wins doesn't guarantee anything. They found that out the hard way last season.