Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for Wyoming football
BOISE, Idaho -- It would be easy to call the head-scratching events at the end of the first half the true turning point in this one.
Heck, maybe it was.
But on this night, we have plenty of options to choose from.
Wyoming let all momentum go right out the window as Boise State marched 62 yards in just 52 seconds and broke a 7-7 tied with a 43-yard field goal off the right foot of Jonah Dalmas to end the second quarter.
Instead of trying to take the lead themselves before the break with 2:47 remaining on the game clock, Craig Bohl and Co. ran the ball three straight times and were forced to punt.
The Cowboys had all three timeouts at their disposal. Instead of being aggressive and possibly using them on that offensive drive, Bohl instead called three straight in an attempt to "ice" Dalmas.
That backfired and Boise State's freshman kicker got the last laugh -- literally.
If that wasn't the ultimate game changer, maybe it was the home team's first drive of the second half?
Hank Bachmeier converted on a 3rd-and-7 and a 3rd-and-9 as he took his team, once again, right down the field against a zone defense that featured little -- if any -- pass rush. Boise State's veteran quarterback completed a 15 and a 17-yard throw on those snaps.
That 12-play 54-yard drive was capped off by a Dalmas 38-yarder to give the Broncos a 13-7 lead.
"We gave up leaky yardage and we didn't tackle great," UW linebacker Easton Gibbs said. "So, we have to come back and clean stuff up."
Either answer here would be acceptable, but to me, the real dagger in this one came on the Cowboys ensuing possession -- and their first drive of the fourth quarter.
It was the visitors turn for an answer. It appeared one could be coming, too. Here's how that drive started:
* Titus Swen - rush 7 yards
* Swen - rush 3 yards
* Levi Williams - rush 8 yards
* Williams to Joshua Cobbs for 11 yards
* Williams to Isaiah Neyor for 15 yards
If that last catch stands, Wyoming has a first down at the Boise State 42-yard line.
Left guard Zach Watts, who was playing in place of an injured Eric Abojei, was hit with a holding call, erasing that pitch and catch. To make matters even worse, the Cowboys were flagged on a delay-of-game penalty before the very next snap.
Here's how the next three plays went:
* Williams - rush 1 yard
* Williams to Treyton Welch for minus-1 yard
* Williams incomplete pass
The air was officially out of the balloon and Ralph Fawaz was on to punt on a 4th-and-26.
Yes, the defense held the Broncos on its next drive, but this was just a continuation of a long night of mistakes and miscues from this Wyoming offense.
A false start erased a first-down run on the Cowboys' initial drive of the night. Another early jump on the next possession turned a second down and manageable into a third and long. Right tackle Frank Crum was the culprit on both. For good measure, Wyoming moved again on the next drive.
But wait, there's more.
With Boise State facing a 4th-and-2 from the Wyoming 9-yard line, Dalmas split the uprights from 26 yards out to begin the scoring late in the first quarter.
Enter yellow flag.
Cornerback Azizi Hearn lined up offside on the kick and the Broncos suddenly had new life. They found the end zone two plays later When Bachmeier connected with tight end Riley Smith for a two-yard scoring strike.
"I think the jumps off sides had a big impact and put us behind the sticks," Bohl said. "That's not our MO. We felt like we could have an opportunity to run the ball against them and create some third down and shorts. It just didn't come about because there's so many self-inflicted wounds."
Wyoming was dinged with eight penalties for 50 yards.
In Wyoming's last offensive gasp, Williams rolled to his right and attempted a pass to Welch. The ball was thrown behind his tight end and he tipped it right into the awaiting arms of Demetri Washington, who returned the ball to the Cowboys' 12-yard line.
Andrew Van Buren was in the end zone two snaps later.
And you'll never guess what? A holding penalty put Wyoming behind the sticks yet again on that drive. It erased a 21-yard run by Xazavian Valladay that would've put the Pokes at the Broncos' 30-yard line.
"You know, I feel like we had a few drives that were like that where we really started rolling and then, you know, just kind of shot ourselves in the foot," Williams said. "But, at the end of the day, we lost the turnover battle and that's what I'm most disappointed about."
There were plenty of backbreakers in this one.
Take your pick.
Boise State 23, Wyoming 13
With Esaias Gandy out of the lineup in this one, freshman Isaac White stepped in and registered five tackles and pass breakup that thwarted a Khalil Shakir touchdown on the Broncos' opening drive of the third quarter.
White also ran step for step with Boise State's most dynamic playmaker in the second quarter, blanketing Shakir and causing another incompletion in the end zone.
You might have asked yourself -- who is No. 42?
The Pottstown, Penn., product got his first significant playing time on the Cowboys defense when Gandy went down two weeks ago in San Jose. White racked up four tackles in that 27-21 loss to the Spartans. He also tacked on four more in last Saturday's 31-17 win over Colorado State.
"He's stepped up big time," Gibbs said. "I mean, he's filling some shoes with Gandy being hurt and banged up. He played great ... Isaac stepped in and stood up to the test. We all have faith in him. We all trust him. He's a good communicator. So, he's really stepped in very nicely."
Bohl said he has faith in the 6-foot-1, 195-pound rookie. The playing time over the last three weeks proves that.
"We need to hang together. I think we've got good leadership within the football team. This one was tough, though. I mean, we put a lot of emotion in this one and we knew coming in we were going to need to play well. We didn't play near as well as what we needed to. We'll look at the tape, make some corrections, keep our chins up and get ourselves ready to play the Aggies."
-- Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl on hos he wants to see his team finish the season
The Cowboys (5-5, 1-5) will head west on Interstate-80 to Logan, Utah to take on the Utah State Aggies (7-2, 4-1) Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside Maverik Stadium. These two rivals, who battle every year for Jim Bridger's Rifle, did not meet in 2020 because of COVID-19 issues inside the USU program. The Aggies hold a 40-26-4 record in the series. The last time these squads met was in 2019. Jordan Love and Co. held on late for the 26-21 victory in Logan.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players