On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, the University of Wyoming Cowboys 1–0 (0−0 MWC) took on the Texas State Bobcats 0–1 at War Memorial Stadium in front of over 23,000 fans.
The Pokes came out sporting their new flat, brown helmets with a slight alteration. The team had replaced the plain brown Steamboat on their helmets with something a little more patriotic. The helmets honored those lost in the tragedy of 9⁄11 with a US flag Steamboat.
It was a dazzling sight to see the flag everywhere while many were honored on game day. Those who were honored ranged from those directly involved in 9⁄11, to the Wyoming 8 who were killed just days after 9⁄11, to Cowboys football player Ruben Narcisse, to the many Wyoming citizens who had given their lives to defend our majestic nation.
Wyoming won the coin toss and elected to start the game on offense. The Cowboys had little success on their first drive and were forced to punt and give the ball to the Bobcats. The Bobcats cashed in on their first possession with a long drive followed by a field goal, which put them on the board up 3–0 on the Pokes. Wyoming found their stride in their second possession and had little trouble moving down the field. Their drive was highlighted by a long rush and a rushing touchdown. The score put the Cowboys up for the first time with the score at 7–3 in favor of the Pokes. The Bobcats started their second possession with an interception on the first play of the drive. That play gave the Pokes the ball already inside the redzone. Wyoming quickly scored a rushing touchdown to notch the score at 14–3 in their favor. The Bobcats began to drive but gave up a fumble to cough up the ball back to Wyoming. The Pokes were unable to convert a fourth down attempt and gave the ball back after an incomplete pass attempt. The first quarter ended with the Wyoming Cowboys ahead of the Texas State Bobcats 14–3.
The Bobcats wasted no time to start the second quarter by marching straight down the field with little resistance. The Bobcats got their first touchdown with a rush by Terrence Franks to put the Bobcats within striking distance at 14–10. The rest of the quarter was dominated mostly by the two defenses. Fortunately, Wyoming was able to drive as the half came to an end and kicked a field goal as the first half expired. The last-second field goal put the Cowboys up by a touchdown at 17–10.
The Texas State Bobcats were led in the first half by running back Franks, quarterback Tyler Arndt, and defensive back Xavier Daniels. Banks ran for 44 yards and a touchdown on his five carries. Arndt went 5-for-6 for 36 yards but was sacked three times. Daniels had a total of eight tackles, six unassisted and two assisted.
Wyoming was led statistically by quarterback Brett Smith, wide receiver Dominic Rufran, and runningback Brandon Miller. Smith went 9-for-20 with 132 yards in the air. Rufran caught four passes for 87 yards. Miller carried the ball five times for 51 yards and a touchdown in the half.
As the second half got moving it looked as though the entire game could be a defensive battle. The Cowboys were ice cold to start the half as the freshman quarterback, Smith, threw his first interception of the season. The Bobcats were unable to score on the turnover and Wyoming immediately made them pay. With a few big plays down field the Pokes closed the distance to the endzone quickly. The Cowboys scored by way of a tremendous 26 yard rush by Smith in which he escaped two near-tackles before his score. This put the Cowboys up on Texas State by a score of 24–10. Before the third quarter ended, the Bobcats got the ball back but were forced to punt back to the Cowboys as the quarter ended. The third quarter ended with the Cowboys up 24–10.
Wyoming started with the ball in the final quarter. They matriculated the ball down the field with relative ease, along with the two penalties which kept their drive alive. Smith hit Alvester Alexander for a 40 yard pass out of the backfield to get within the redzone. After a few plays, Smith keeps the ball and breaks a couple of tackles for his second rushing touchdown of the game and the third of his short career. This put the Cowboys up 31–10 and put the game out of reach for the Bobcats. After the Cowboys held the Bobcats to little, if anything, they quickly scored for the nail in the coffin of Texas State. The touchdown pass went to wide receiver Chris McNeill increasing the differential to 38–10. In an extreme attempt to get back into the game the Bobcats threw in a little trick-eration with an attempted Statue of Liberty play which led to an interception for the defense on great coverage by the defensive back. On the very next play, Smith’s pass is deflected and intercepted by Texas State. It was Smith’s second interception of the game. Texas State tried to score to save some pride on the long journey home, but the 30 yard field goal sailed wide-left and kept the score at 38–10. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the Cowboys didn’t let off the gas. Wyoming possession didn’t last long after a fantastic run by runningback Ghaali Muhammad for another touchdown. The score moved up to 45–10 and that’s what it would be at the conclusion of the game.
The game ended with Wyoming on top, but it wasn’t for lack-of-effort on the part of the Texas State. The Bobcats were statistically led by Franks, Arndt, and wide receiver Darius Bolden. Franks finished with eight carries for a total of 46 yards and a touchdown. Arndt split playing time with fellow quarterback Shaun Rutherford. Arndt finished at 7-for-14 with 54 yards and an interception. Rutherford went 5-for-9 with 58 yards and an interception. Bolden finished with four receptions and 49 yards.
Wyoming had a vastly superior day statistically than they did last week. The Pokes were led on the ground by runningback Ghaali Muhammad with ten carries for 123 yards and a touchdown. Through the air the Pokes were led by Rufran with five receptions for 96 yards. The leader of the pack, however, was none other then freshman quarterback Brett Smith. Smith went 16-for-31 with 236 yards, a touchdown, and a pair of interceptions, but he also had two rushing touchdowns with 73 yards on nine carries.
It was an enormous win for the Cowboys 2–0 (0−0 MWC) after they had struggled mightily against Weber State last week. Fortunately, Wyoming has been able to collect some momentum heading into their next few games. Next week the Cowboys will be on the road to face Bowling Green 2–0 (0−0 MAC). Hopefully, they will be able to keep a little steam rolling for when they host the #10 Nebraska Cornhuskers 2–0 (0−0 Big Ten) on September 24th in Laramie.