20,014 in atten­dance to see Cow­boys take on #10 Utah

(Jere­my Stegall/LFP)

On Sat­ur­day after­noon the Wyoming Cow­boys 2–5 (0−3 MWC) faced off against the #10 Utah Utes 6–0 (3−0 MWC) for the final time as con­fer­ence foes. Utah came into the game with an insane vic­to­ry over Iowa State last week, 68–27. The Utes are 6–0 for the third time in sev­en years. The Pokes are com­ing off of pos­si­bly the hard­est first half of a sea­son in the entire nation. The only team with a sim­i­lar­ly dif­fi­cult road to start is the Ore­gon State Beavers.

The Cow­boys won the toss to begin the game but decid­ed to defer to the sec­ond half. Utah marched the length of the field with rel­a­tive ease. The Cow­boys did stop one dri­ve with an inter­cep­tion in the end zone by senior cor­ner­back Mar­cell Gip­son. The inter­cep­tion was the first of Gipson’s career. The Cow­boys showed some life in the first half but either shot them­selves in the foot with a sil­ly mis­take or they took more risks than were nec­es­sary. Risky calls on offense are a sta­ple of Coach Christensen’s, like it or not. The shin­ing moment for the Cow­boys in the half was a blocked PAT by senior Chris Prosin­s­ki, who also climbed to 7th on the Cow­boys all-time tack­les list.

At the half the #10 Utah Utes were way up on the Wyoming Cow­boys 23–0.

Lead­ing the way for the Utes was quar­ter­back Jor­dan Wynn who went 13-for-18 with 173 yards, two touch­downs, and an inter­cep­tion. The touch­down pass­es went to Luke Matthews on a 45 yard bomb as well as to DeVonte Christo­pher. The Utes also wore down the clock with a heavy dose of run­ning back Matt Asi­a­ta who had 12 car­ries for 74 yards.

The Cow­boys didn’t have much to show for the first half of play. Austyn Car­ta-Samuels went 5-for-7 for a mea­ger 61 yards. Alvester Alexan­der had 11 car­ries for 25 net yards. Prosin­s­ki led the Cow­boys defense with sev­en tack­les and a blocked PAT.

Even less was work­ing for the Pokes in the sec­ond half than was work­ing in the first, which was rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle. Every time the Pokes looked as though they might piece togeth­er a dri­ve they would have a neg­a­tive play. This led to no scor­ing for the Pokes.  The Utes start­ed almost all of their dri­ves in Cow­boy ter­ri­to­ry.

In the fourth quar­ter the Pokes final­ly got some­thing going with Dax Crum at the helm for his sec­ond dri­ve. Crum had a cou­ple qual­i­ty pass­es that moved the Pokes down the field. Wyoming was also aid­ed by a pass inter­fer­ence call on the five yard line. Crum threw a 10 yard touch­down pass to David Leonard for Wyoming’s only real glim­mer of offense. The Pokes attempt­ed a two point con­ver­sion but were clob­bered at the line of scrim­mage on the direct snap to the run­ning back.

Final score at Jon­ah Field at War Memo­r­i­al Sta­di­um, #10 Utah Utes 30 — Wyoming Cow­boys 6.

The sta­tis­ti­cal lead­ers for the Utes were Wynn, Asi­a­ta, and return man Shaky Smith­son. Wynn went 16-for-25 with 230 yards, two touch­downs, and two inter­cep­tions. Asi­a­ta ran for 109 yards on 16 car­ries and became Utah’s first 100 yard rush­er of the sea­son. Smith­son had four punt returns for 111 yards and often put the Utes in Wyoming ter­ri­to­ry to start their dri­ves.

Lead­ing the way for the Pokes was Alexan­der with 19 car­ries for a dis­mal 44 yards. Car­ta-Samuels played thru most of the game but was relieved by Dax Crum late in the game. Crum threw the team’s only touch­down of the game to wide receiv­er David Leonard. Prosin­s­ki fin­ished with 12 tack­les and a blocked PAT. There were also three inter­cep­tions in the game by Mar­cell Gip­son, Tashaun Gip­son, and by fresh­man Mar­que­ston Huff. It was M. Gipson’s first career inter­cep­tion, T. Gipson’s fourth career inter­cep­tion, and Huff’s first career inter­cep­tion.

David Leonard stressed the impor­tance of the sec­ond half of the sea­son, “It’s a six game sea­son and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re not gonna mope about this loss. We’re gonna con­tin­ue to get bet­ter and strive to accom­plish our goal, which is to play in the post sea­son.”

The Pokes have anoth­er tough loss on their record but the Cow­boys accom­plished a few firsts for the sea­son. The Cow­boys were +3 on turnovers with three inter­cep­tions and the Cow­boys scored in the fourth quar­ter for the first time this sea­son.

Head Coach Dave Chris­tensen praised the broth­ers Gip­son for their abil­i­ty to cre­ate turnovers, “That’s about as many turnovers as we’ve had in four games. They’ve been play­ing good and play­ing hard and they’re good cov­er cor­ners.”

When asked about the team turn­ing around the sea­son Tashaun Gip­son com­ment­ed that, “Right now, it’s got­ta be a turn­around for us. If we’re try­ing to make it to post sea­son play, what we did in the first half of the sea­son is dead and gone. We have to turn over a new leaf.”

Old­er broth­er Mar­cell Gip­son reflect­ed the same urgency as his broth­er in the post game inter­view, “We NEED a win! That’s it and that’s all.”

Next week the Cow­boys are head­ed into the sec­ond half of the sea­son with a los­ing record. The Pokes will face off against hat­ed MWC rival BYU next Sat­ur­day in Pro­vo. The Pokes do have plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to right the ship in their remain­ing MWC games, but will need wins in most of those games to have any chance at bowl eli­gi­bil­i­ty. If the Cow­boys win four out of their last five games they will fin­ish the sea­son at 6–6 (4−4 MWC) and should have no prob­lem get­ting into a bowl game. It‘s going to be an extreme­ly tough road for the Cow­boys to pull a 180 on their sea­son though.

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