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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