Bronze Boot battle leads to NM Bowl birth

The Bronze Boot resided on the Wyoming side of the field and never left their sideline

On a snow covered landscape in Fort Collins, the Wyoming Cowboys 7-4 (4-2 MWC) took on the Colorado State Rams 3-8 (1-5 MWC) in the 103rd Border War. TheBattle for the Bronze Boot was rowdy and at times there were tempers flaring all over the field. Both teams had multiple personal fouls from both sides of the ball throughout the game. Not a big surprise for the biggest rivalry in the Mountain West Conference.

Quarterback Brett Smith rushes out of the pocket for Wyoming

 

The game began with the Cowboys winning the coin-toss and choosing to defer to get the ball to start the second half. The Rams got the ball and moved it down the field with relative ease, until they got inside theWyoming10-yard line. The Rams were forced to kick a 21-yard field goal and put the first points of the game on the scoreboard.Wyomingwasn’t discouraged and worked their way down the field meticulously for their first score of the day by way of a rushing touchdown by Alvester Alexander, putting the score atWyoming7 – CSU 3. There were multiple possessions for both teams that led to a couple of punts in a battle for field position. To end the first quarter the Cowboys were up on the Rams, 7-3.

In the second quarter both teams continued driving and punishing the opposing team’s defense. The Rams started the scoring in the second quarter as well, putting up a 44-yard field goal to tighten up the score at 7-6 in favor of Wyoming. The Pokes struck quickly to steal away any kind of momentum that had been building up for the Rams. In less than 20 seconds, Smith had an 80-yard pass completion to freshman wide receiver Josh Doctson that resulted in a touchdown. That play was the final score of the half with more than ten minutes remaining on the clock. Halftime score wasWyoming14 – CSU 6.

CSU quarterback Grayson eludes Cowboy defenders

 

CSU was led statistically by quarterback Garret Grayson, wide receiver Matt Yemm, and kicker Chad Vandermolen. Grayson also pulled double-duty, leading thru the air as well as on the ground. Grayson went 8-for-14 for 93 yards and a pair of interceptions. Grayson led the ground attack with 79 yards on ten rushing attempts. Yemm had three receptions for 53 yards. Vandermolen had two field goals.

 

Marqueston Huff, aka Quest, lines up inside the Ram redzone

Wyomingwas led by quarterback Brett Smith, wide receiver Josh Doctson, and defensive back Marqueston Huff. Smith led the way both in the air and on the ground. Smith went 7-for-13 with 130 yards thru the air and a touchdown. Smith pulled double-duty and also had 74 yards rushing. Doctson caught two passes for 94 yards receiving and a touchdown. Huff stopped a serious CSU drive with an interception in the endzone.

 

Rams encircle a fantastic punt just feet from the Wyoming goal line

The Pokes started the second half with the ball and would have felt pretty comfortable had they gotten a score to start the half. Unfortunately, true-freshman quarterback Smith threw his first interception of the game to hand the ball to the Rams already in Cowboy territory. The turnover led to a CSU touchdown by Raymond Carter. The Rams then faked the point-after but were stopped less than a yard from the goal line for their two-point conversion. The touchdown put the score at 14-12 in favor of the Pokes, but those pesky Rams were still within striking distance. CSU also got the games next score with another rushing touchdown by Carter. This touchdown run put the score in favor of the Rams for the first time since early in the first quarter. The third quarter ended with the score in favor of the home-team CSU Rams 14-19.

Ram's quarterback Grayson calls out his cadence

The fourth quarter started with the Rams in scoring position. Luckily the Pokes defense held CSU to a field goal attempt. On the attempt, the kick struck the right up-right and doinked back into the endzone. Score remained at 14-19 in favor of the Rams, but Wyominghad stolen some wind from the sails of CSU with the missed field goal. The Pokes fire back with a second passing touchdown going to Doctson for 35 yards and the score. This put the Cowboys back on top and they would not relinquish their 20-19 lead. CSU had a tough drive on their next possession and went for the first down on fourth down. The Cowboy defense held strong and gave the ball back to the Pokes offense. Smith quickly gave the ball back to the Rams with his second interception, this one inside the Ram 5-yard line. Luckily, the Pokes defense stood strong and got a safety. This put the score at Wyoming22 – Colorado State 19. Wyominggot the ball back and continued to waste time off the clock. They were successful in their attempt and won the 103rd Border War with a score of 22-19.

 

Some of the many Wyoming fans that made their way down to Fort Collins

Statistical leaders for the Rams were Grayson, and Carter. Grayson finished going 15-for-25 with 143 yards and three interceptions. Grayson also had 91 yards on 17 carries. Carter ran for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 attempts along with 11 yards on two receptions. CSU had interceptions by Mychal Sisson and Austin Gray. CSU finished the season at 3-9 (1-6 MWC) and are tied for sixth place in the Mountain West withNew Mexicoand UNLV.

 

Cowboys sack CSU quarterback for a safety

The Cowboys were led by Smith, Doctson, and Alvester Alexander. Doctson finished with three receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Alexander ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.Wyominggot a trio of interceptions against the Rams from Huff, Tashaun Gipson, and freshman Blair Burns. Smith had a game where he was hot-and-cold at times, but put up more yards for the books. Smith went 11-for-22 with 191 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a fumble lost. Smith also rushed for 90 yards on 16 carries. The Pokes finish the season at 8-4 (5-2 MWC) and hold sole possession of third place in the Mountain West.

Smith has already locked-down a legacy for himself at theUniversityofWyomingand in the Mountain West Conference as a true-freshman quarterback. In Saturday’s game Smith surpassed MWC-great and current NFL rookie-of-the-year front-runner, Andy Dalton for most total yards by a freshman quarterback. Smith has an astounding total of 3,140 yards as well as 18 touchdowns thru the air and 10 on the ground.

Wyominghad become bowl-eligible with their previous win at home, but they were looking to keep their momentum going into the bowl season. The Cowboys (8-4, 5-2 MWC) have been invited to the 2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl to face the Temple Owls (8-4, 5-3 MAC) on December 17th in Albuquerque at noon. The Pokes will be making their second appearance in three years in the NM Bowl. In 2009 the Cowboys had a specatcular multiple-overtime victory against the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Pokes will be kicking off the Bowl season again on the 17th. Wyoming will be led by Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year Dave Christensen and Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, true-freshman quarterback, Brett Smith.

The talk of the town is sure to be Head Coach Dave Christensen. In his three-year reign at theUniversityofWyomingthe Pokes have made it to two bowl appearances and have taken home the Bronze Boot for the Border War in all three seasons. Christensen will also be leading his men to their second bowl appearance in Christensen’s three-year reign.

Head Coach Dave Christensen holds up the Bronze Boot in victory for a 3-peat

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