The teams seemed as evenly matched as any two teams could be heading into a bowl game. The Wyoming Cowboys (8−4, 5–3 MWC) faced off against the Temple Owls(8–4, 5–2 MAC) on a gorgeous Albuquerque afternoon in front of over 25,000 fans. There weren’t nearly as many fans for the Owls as for the Cowboys, but that is to be expected since they come from so far away.
Tensions ran high before the sixth edition of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl got started. Both teams had been inspired the day before gameday by an encapsulating speech by former NFL-great quarterback Archie Manning, which highlighted being a leader both on and off the field. The fans anxiously looked forward to a serious battle on a gorgeous afternoon to start off the Bowl season on ESPN.
The Pokes won the coin-toss and deferred to receive the ball to start the second half.Templegot the ball to start the game and made their way down the field with relative ease. The Owls scored on a one-yard rush by Bernard Pierce for the game’s first touchdown. The drive went 90 yards in 13 plays.Wyomingthen received the ball and moved the ball down the field. They were held out of the redzone, but had an attempted field goal, which missed wide-right. The score stayed at 7–0 and the Owls got the ball in good field position. The quarter ended with a score of 7–0 in the first quarter.
Templemarched down the field in nine plays for another one-yard touchdown rush for Pierce. The score forTempleput
them up 14–0 over the Cowboys.Wyomingcame out passing and were quickly intercepted by aTempledefensive back. The Owls moved quickly and got another rushing touchdown, this time from Matt Brown. The score put the Owls way up on the Pokes, 21–0.Wyomingdid all that they could to put some kind of drive together and were rewarded after two fourth-down conversions. The Pokes put a receiving touchdown on the board on one of their fourth-down conversions. The touchdown was caught by Josh Doctson for a 21-yard touchdown which finally got the Cowboys onto the board, down 21–7. On the first play of the Owls ensuing drive, they tossed up a ball that was caught and run in for a touchdown by Rod Streater. The Cowboy’s defensive back slipped on the play and had no help over-the-top, which made the Owls touchdown relatively easy. To end the half the score was knotted at 28–7 in favor of theTempleOwls.
TheTempleOwlswere led by Pierce, Chris Coyer, and Tahir Whitehead. Pierce ran for 53 yards on a dozen carries with two touchdowns. Coyer went 5-for-7 with 128 yards passing and a touchdown. He also had 38 yards rushing on five attempts. Whitehead led the defense with seven tackles in the half.
Wyomingwas led at the half by quarterback Brett Smith, Doctson, and Brian Hendricks. Smith went 9-for-14 with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Smith also ran for 55 yards on 10 attempts. Doctson had the oneWyomingtouchdown on one catch for 21 yards. Hendricks led the defense with six tackles, none for losses.
Wyomingreceived the ball to start the second half and was putting together a quality drive. Then they had back-to-back penalties to make for a 3rd and extremely long, which forced them to punt the ball away. The Owls got the ball and wound down the clock on their drive. The Owls kicked a 34-yard field goal to end a long drive and notch the score up at 31–7 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. At the end of the third, the Owls were up on the Pokes 31–7 and had the ball to begin the 4th quarter.
The Owls owned the fourth quarter of the game, just as they had for the previous three quarters. They did all that they
could to eat up the clock while collecting another field goal along the way. The Cowboys did their best to drive and score in hopes of saving some face. The Cowboys punched in a rushing touchdown by Kody Sutton along with a two-point conversion with a quarterback draw. The final score inAlbuquerquewas the Temple Owls 37 – Wyoming Cowboys 15.
Statistical leaders for the Owls were Pierce, Coyer, and Whitehead. Pierce finished with 100 yards on 25 carries. Coyer went 8-for-12 with 169 yards and a touchdown. Coyer also contributed 71 yards rushing on 12 carries. Whitehead collected the defensive player of the game honors with nine tackles and a half a tackle for a loss.
The Pokes were led by Smith, Doctson, and Hendricks. Smith finished going 17-for-26 for 96 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Doctson contributed three receptions with a touchdown. Hendricks had a big day with 13 tackles on the day.
The Cowboys put their best foot forward, but were thwarted early and often on a rough afternoon inNew Mexico. The Cowboys and coach Dave Christensen fall to 1–1 in their last two attempts at the New Mexico Bowl, which came in the last three years. Christensen won MWC coach of the year but was unable to overcome the early momentum of theTempleOwls. Congratulations to both teams for a valiant effort and some solid competition.