Wyoming wins New Mex­i­co Bowl 35–28

The Wyoming Cow­boys 6–6 (4−4) defeat­ed the Fres­no State Bull­dogs 8–4 (6−2) in dou­ble over­time 35–28 and win the 4th annu­al New Mex­i­co Bowl.  The game was broad­cast live on ESPN with 24,898 fans in atten­dance.

These two teams both came to defend their team’s cher­ished lega­cy. Fres­no State has been a peren­ni­al par­tic­i­pant in the bowl scene and has been to almost as many bowls in the last 15 years as the Pokes have been to in their entire his­to­ry. The Cow­boys came into the game with some­thing to prove against the favored Bull­dogs. For­tu­nate­ly, the Cow­boys had a much larg­er fan base on site to root them on.

In the 1st quar­ter, on the Pokes sec­ond pos­ses­sion, the offen­sive line opened up a huge gap and allowed Alvester Alexan­der to rush for a 68-yard touch­down after shak­ing off a tack­le. Wyoming took the first lead of the game 7–0. On the next dri­ve Fres­no State made their way down the field with some ease, but fum­bled inside Wyoming’s 10-yard line. The Cow­boys couldn’t cap­i­tal­ize on the turnover.

The 2nd quar­ter start­ed with Fres­no State dri­ving on Wyoming. After a suc­cess­ful fourth down con­ver­sion, the Bull­dogs marched into the Cowboy’s red zone. The Bull­dogs scored with a 4-yard rush­ing touch­down by Ryan Matthews to tie up the game at 7–7. To start the next dri­ve, the Cow­boys start­ed inside their own 10-yard line. Wyoming was able to dri­ve into Bull­dog ter­ri­to­ry though and fresh­man quar­ter­back Austyn Car­ta-Samuels threw a 21-yard pass­ing touch­down to Greg Bolling to re-take the lead at 14–7. On the Bulldog’s next pos­ses­sion they marched down field on the Cow­boys with ease. The dri­ve was capped by a 10-yard touch­down pass from Ryan Col­burn to Jamel Ham­ler to tie up the game at 14–14 with 33 sec­onds left in the 1st half. The Cow­boys attempt­ed to get some points on the board before time expired, but the Wyoming field goal attempt was blocked to end the half.

The 3rd quar­ter start­ed with Fres­no State on the attack. To score on their first pos­ses­sion of the half, the Bull­dogs pulled out a lit­tle trick­ery. On a reverse to Chastin West, West got the ball and threw 43 yards to a wide open Ham­ler, with­out a Cow­boy any­where in sight, for a touch­down. With the pass from a wide receiv­er to anoth­er wide receiv­er, the Bull­dogs took the lead 21–14. In their next pos­ses­sion, the Pokes kicked a 41-yard field goal to put the score at 21–17 in favor of Fres­no State.

In the 4th quar­ter, after trad­ing a few punts on con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions, the Pokes made a turnover that cost them big. On a tipped pass attempt, Chris Lewis of altFres­no State snagged an inter­cep­tion and returned it to the Wyoming 6-yard line. Matthews quick­ly scored his sec­ond rush­ing touch­down of the game to put the Bull­dogs up 28–17 over the Cow­boys. Wyoming let the score roll off of their backs and drove down the field in just over three min­utes for a touch­down of their own. Car­ta-Samuels threw his sec­ond touch­down pass to David Leonard and con­vert­ed a 2-point attempt with a pass to Bolling. The Cow­boys were back with­in strik­ing dis­tance at 25–28 in favor of Fres­no State with a lit­tle over ten min­utes to play in the game. On the Bulldog’s fol­low­ing dri­ve Fres­no State had the ball stripped and was recov­ered by Wyoming. The ball was stripped and recov­ered by senior defen­sive line­man, Mitch Unrein. On the Pokes dri­ve they didn’t have a ton of suc­cess, but Car­ta-Samuels and his offense con­vert­ed three straight fourth down con­ver­sions to have a chance to tie the game with less than a minute left in the game. The field goal was good and the score stood at 28–28 before reg­u­la­tion came to an end.

In the 1st over­time Wyoming had a hard time stop­ping the Fres­no State offense. Right up until the Bull­dogs got to the goal line, any­way. The Bull­dogs had a full set of downs when they closed with­in the 5-yard line. The Cow­boys goal line defense was com­plete­ly impen­e­tra­ble. The Cow­boys stuffed every­thing that came their way, which was accen­tu­at­ed by Matthews being stuffed as he attempt­ed to jump over the line for the score. No points for Fres­no State and they turned it over to the Wyoming. The Cow­boys were con­ser­v­a­tive on their play-call­ing but man­aged to set up a field goal in the mid­dle of the field. The field goal attempt sailed wide left and Wyoming was also turned away emp­ty hand­ed.

In the 2nd over­time the teams flipped sides of the field and Wyoming got the ball first. The Cow­boys had some short yardage plays but didn’t get any first downs. The dri­ve was short but sweet. On a third down attempt Car­ta-Samuels found David Leonard in the end zone where he made a great catch, tapped his toes down in-bounds and put the Cow­boys up 35–28. The score left Fres­no State with no options oth­er than a touch­down of their own. Fres­no State quar­ter­back Ryan Col­burn did his best to elon­gate plays and find some­one open in the end zone, but the Cow­boys blan­ket­ed the receivers. Since Col­burn had no place to throw the ball he tried to make some­thing hap­pen, but to no avail.

The Cow­boys come away with their first bowl vic­to­ry under head coach Dave Chris­tensen and their sec­ond bowl vic­to­ry in their last two bowl games. The offen­sive play­er of the game was fresh­man quar­ter­back, Austyn Car­ta-Samuels. The defen­sive play­er of the game was senior defen­sive line­man, Mitch Unrein.

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