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 teams 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 Wyomings 10-yard line. The Cowboys couldnt 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 Cowboys 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 Bulldogs 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 Fresno 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 Bulldogs 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 didnt 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 didnt 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.