Wyoming Title Hopes Dashed in 34-14 Loss at UNLV
* University of Wyoming press release
LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- It was a game with everything on the line as both the Wyoming Cowboys and UNLV Rebels entered Friday night’s game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas looking to keep their hopes alive to play in this year’s Mountain West Championship Game.
Wyoming entered the game with a 6-3 overall record and a 3-2 Mountain West mark. UNLV brought a 7-2 overall record and a 4-1 conference record into the game.
When the game came to an end, UNLV had prevailed with a 34-14 home win over the Cowboys and the Rebels had improved their record to 8-2 and 5-1. Wyoming fell to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in league play.
The game was one of streaks. UNLV came out of the gate fast, building a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. But Wyoming put on a streak of its own, scoring 14 consecutive points in the second quarter to narrow the lead to 21-14. On its final possession of the first half, the Pokes drove all the way down to the UNLV 10-yard line, but UNLV would halt the potential game-tying drive by Wyoming with an interception at the Rebel three-yard line just as the half was expiring.
Not only was the score close at halftime, but the half would end with each team having identical total offense numbers of 214 yards each.
The second half would see the Rebels add a third quarter touchdown, while the Cowboys would miss their one scoring opportunity on a 52-yard field goal attempt. UNLV would add two fourth-quarter field goals to make the final score 34-14.
“We came up against a good football team,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl after the game. “We came out sluggish. I had challenged our team before the game to make sure we were set and ready to go. It was obvious that some guys weren’t. We fought back and made it somewhat close, but we couldn’t finish it off.
“UNLV is a good team. We knew that coming in. It was a disappointing loss, but we got beat by a good football team. Barry (Odom) has done a good job of mixing in the remainder of the squad he inherited and then bringing in some transfers. We didn’t make some plays when we needed to make them.
“We had some guys cramp up, which is befuddling to me, but nonetheless they cramped up. We had some other guys get banged up, but it’s late in the year and when the next guy gets their opportunity to play they’ve got to take advantage of that opportunity.”
Wyoming quarterback Andrew Peasley played an outstanding game in spite of being under pressure for much of the night. He completed 11 of 22 passes for 144 yards and was Wyoming’s leading rusher with 69 rushing yards to account for 213 yards of total offense. He also scored the Cowboys’ first touchdown on a 32-yard TD run. He threw one interception and was sacked three times for a -19 yards. Running back Harrison Waylee carried the ball eight times for 29 yards, and fellow running back Sam Scott also had eight carries for 20 yards. Waylee didn’t play in the first quarter. When asked after the game, Bohl said he set Waylee out the first quarter for a violation of team rules.
Wide receiver Wyatt Wieland caught a team high five passes for 72 yards and scored Wyoming’s other touchdown on a one-yard run. Tight end Treyton Welch caught three passes for 50 yards. Wide receiver Will Pelissier caught two passes for 15 yards, and tight end John Michael Gyllenborg had one catch for 28 yards.
The Cowboy defense was led by defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole and linebacker Easton Gibbs, who each had nine tackles. Linebacker Shae Suiaunoa added seven tackles, while safety Isaac White was credited with six. Seven other Cowboys each had five tackles.
Wyoming is still looking for its first road win of the 2023 season. The Pokes other road losses were at then No. 4 ranked Texas, at Air Force and at Boise State.
Wyoming will return home to War Memorial Stadium next Saturday to host Hawai’i. The Cowboys will be trying to finish off a perfect home record this season. They will enter the Hawai’i game with a 6-0 record in War Memorial Stadium this season.
UNLV Series Notes
∙The Wyoming-UNLV series has been among the closest series for both teams. This year’s meeting was the 26th in the series between the two teams. Wyoming holds a two-game lead in the overall series, 14-12.
∙The Mountain West portion of the series is now tied at 9-9.
∙A total of 14 of the 26 meetings in the series have been decided by one possession or less. The results of those 14 close games is split right down the middle, with Wyoming winning seven and UNLV winning the other seven.
∙Of the 14 total games in the series played in Las Vegas, nine have come down to one-possession games.
∙UNLV has won eight of the 14 games in Las Vegas. Wyoming has won six.
∙Since the 1996 season when the NCAA implemented overtime, four games between the Cowboys and Rebels in Las Vegas have gone to overtime, with each team winning two and losing two of the overtime match-ups.
Wyoming took the opening kickoff and UW wide receiver Ayir Asante returned it 31 yards to the Wyoming 32-yard line. But the Pokes’ offense went three-and-out on its first possession of the game and punted the ball away to the Rebels. UNLV punt returner Jacob De Jesus muffed the punt but recovered it at his own 30-yard line. The Rebels gained four yards on first down and then on second and six quarterback Jayden Maiava connected with wide receiver Ricky White down the right sideline for 56 yards to the Wyoming 10-yard line. On the next play, Maiava kept the ball after a ball fake and ran into the end zone with 12:55 remaining in the game. After the point-after-touchdown, UNLV led 7-0.
The Cowboys started their second possession of the game at their own 25-yard line. After two rushing plays gained five yards, UW faced a third and five at its own 30. Cowboy quarterback Peasley was sacked and the ball was knocked out of his hand by defensive end Elijah Shelton and recovered by defensive tackle Darius Johnson at the Wyoming 29-yard line. Maiava connected with White again on a 14-yard pass to the Wyoming 15. Following that first-down pass, the Rebels then ran the ball three consecutive times to the UW two-yard line. With a first and goal at the two, the Cowboy defense held UNLV to one yard on first down, tackled Maiva for no gain on second down, but on third and one Maiva rushed up the middle for the touchdown and UNLV extended their lead to 14-0 with 8:49 remaining in the first quarter.
The Cowboys took the ball at their own 25-yard line to start their third possession of the game. After an incomplete pass on first down, Cowboy running back Scott gained eight yards on second down. On third and two, Scott was held to only one yard and UW was forced to punt again. Starting at its own 33-yard line, the Rebels would engineer a seven-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown run by running back Jai’Den to build the Rebels’ lead to 21-0 with 4:24 remaining in the first quarter.
Cowboy QB Peasley would rush for 13 yards and a first down on UW’s next possession, but after consecutive
losses of six and two yards the Pokes faced a third and 18 at their own 25-yard line. After an incomplete pass on third down, Wyoming was once again forced to punt the ball away. After a 44-yard punt by Cowboy Clayton Stewart and a nine-yard return by UNLV’s De Jesus the Rebels had the ball at their own 40-yard line.
Just when it was looking bleak for the Cowboys they got the big play they needed. After UNLV gained one first down, on the third play of the Rebel possession Cowboy defensive end Sabastian Harsh recovered a fumble by UNLV QB Maiava at the Wyoming 47-yard line.
With 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Cowboys would take advantage of the good field position following the fumble recovery. After a three-yard run by Scott, Wyoming was called for its first penalty -- a 10-yard holding penalty on the final play of the first quarter.
Facing a second and 17 at the UW 40-yard line to start the second quarter, Peasley connected with tight end Gyllenborg on a 28-yard pass completion to the UNLV 32-yard line. On the next play, Peasley would scramble down the left sideline, evading tacklers on his way to a 32-yard TD run to get Wyoming back into the game and cut the lead to 7-21 at the 14:18 mark of the second quarter.
Wyoming’s defense stepped up big again on UNLV’s ensuing possession, shutting down Rebel offense and forcing them into a three-and-out. After the UNLV punt, the Cowboys took over at their own nine-yard line but they were unable to move the ball and had to kick the ball back to the Rebels.
UNLV’s next possession would stall out when on a fourth and one at the Wyoming 44-yard line, Cowboy defensive end Tyce Westland would tackle Rebel QB Maiava for a five-yard loss back to the Wyoming 49-yard line and Wyoming would take over on downs. The Cowboy offense would then go on a methodical 11-play, 51-yard drive. On a first and goal at the UNLV five-yard line, Peasley picked up a low shotgun snap and improvised his way into what looked like a five-yard touchdown run, but the play was reviewed and the TD was overturned and the ball was placed at the one-yard line. On second and goal from the one, wide receiver Wieland took a jet sweep and cut up into the end zone to pull the Cowboys to within seven points at 14-21 with 2:58 remaining in the first half.
The Wyoming defense would hold UNLV to only 19 yards on four plays on the Rebels next possession and Wyoing got the ball back at their own 14-yard line with 1:46 remaining in the half. Peasley began the drive with a 13-yard completion to tight end Welch followed by a 28-yard completion to Wieland and in two plays the Cowboys were down to the UNLV 45-yard line. Pass completions from Peasley to Welch (five yards) and Asante (6 yards) were followed by a four-yard run by Peasley, whose helmet was knocked off at the end of the run forcing the quarterback to sit out one play. In came back-up quarterback Evan Svoboda, who proceeded to throw a perfect 19-yard pass to Wieland on the sideline down to the UNLV 11-yard line with 39 seconds remaining in the half. Running back Scott gained one yard to the 10-yard line. It looked like the Cowboys might tie up the game before halftime, but Peasley’s next pass attempt would be intercepted by UNLV cornerback Cameron Oliver at the three-yard line. The Rebels would run one play and the half would end with the score UNLV 21, Wyoming 14.
In addition to the halftime score, the halftime stats showed just how close the game was as the two teams had identical total offense totals of 214 yards. Wyoming’s 214 yards included 99 rushing yards and 115 passing yards. UNLV rushed for 77 yards passed for 137.
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UNLV was able to gain only 20 yards on its first possession of the third quarter. Wyoming then gained 31 yards on its first second-half possession. The Rebels put together the only third quarter scoring drive on their second possession of the third period. That drive covered 70 yards in 13 plays and took 6:18 off the clock, concluding with a five-yard pass from QB Maiava to tight end Kaleo Ballungay to extend UNLV’s lead back to 14 points at 28-14 with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.
The Cowboys would put together their best drive of the second half beginning with their final possession of the third quarter. Wyoming would move from its own 25-yard line to the UNLV 40, with the big play coming on a 32-yard pass completion from Peasley to Welch as the third quarter came to a close.
Running back Scott would rush for six yards down to the UNLV 34 on the first play of the final period. After an incomplete pass on a third and three, Cowboy place-kicker John Hoyland came in to attempt a 52-yard field goal. The kick hooked just outside the left upright and the score remained 28-14 in favor of the Rebels.
UNLV would drive 45 yards in 13 plays on the following possession and Rebel place-kicker Jose Pizano made a 39-yard field goal to make the score 31-14 with 7:41 left in the game.
Wyoming was held to a three-and-out on its next series. That was followed by UNLV’s final possession that would cover 28 yards in 10 plays and result in a 43-yard field goal by Pizano to conclude the scoring for the night with only 47 seconds remaining in the game. Wyoming would run five more plays on its final possession as time expired. The final score would be UNLV 34, Wyoming 14.
Wyoming will host Hawai’i next Saturday, Nov. 18 in a game that will kick off at Noon, Mountain Time. It will be Senior Day for the Cowboys as Wyoming will be trying to finish off a perfect home record this season. The Pokes bring a 6-0 home record into next Saturday’s final home game of the 2023 season.
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