Pokes Win! Pokes Win!

Wyoming quarterback Cameron Coffman was near perfect on the day throwing the football. Running back Brian Hill rushed for 188 yards, and the Cowboy defense came up with the big play at the end of the game as Wyoming captured a 28-21 home win over Nevada for its first win of the season. The Cowboys led wire-to-wire in the victory before a Homecoming day crowd.

Coffman ended the day completing 18 of 20 passes (90.0 percent) for 213 yards and three touchdown passes to three different receivers. The redshirt senior concluded his outstanding day with a quarterback rating of 229.0. He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Jacob Hollister for Wyoming’s first score of the game with 10:28 remaining in the second quarter. Then with 1:30 remaining in the second quarter, Coffman connected with the Mountain West’s leading receiver, Tanner Gentry, on a 27-yard TD strike. Coffman concluded the first half with a 12-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jake Maulhardt with 12 seconds remaining to put the Pokes up 21-7 at halftime. On that final drive of the half, Coffman was 3-for-3 passing for 29 yards and had an 18-yard run to account for all 47 yards on the drive.

A big part of Coffman’s success on Saturday was the fact that the Cowboy offense did not allow a single sack to the Wolf Pack. It was the first time this season that Coffman was not sacked at least once in a game.

On the first possession of the second half, Coffman guided his Cowboys on an eight-play, 76-yard scoring drive that included a key 46-yard pass to Gentry. Hill carried the ball five times on the drive for 19 yards, and freshman running back Kellen Overstreet scored his first career touchdown on a five-yard run to finish off the touchdown drive and put Wyoming up 28-7.

Hill was again impressive on Saturday, rushing for 188 yards on 33 carries for an average of 5.7 yards per carry. It was his ninth 100-yard rushing game in his last 12 outings and the fifth 100-yard rushing game for him in seven games this season. Hill now has run for 985 yards this season — only 15 shy of a 1,000-yard season. He entered the game ranked 10th in the nation, averaging 132.8 yards per game. After today’s effort, he is averaging 140.7 yards rushing per game.

Nevada’s only score of the first half came with 6:10 remaining on a seven-yard run by running back Don Jackson. The Wolf Pack’s second score wouldn’t come until the end of the third quarter when quarterback Tyler Stewart hit tight end Jarred Gipson on a 12-yard TD pass to cut the Wyoming lead to 28-14 with 56 seconds remaining in the third.

The Cowboys defense did an excellent job of containing the talented running-back tandem of Jackson and James Butler. The Wolf Pack entered the game averaging 222.3 rushing yards per game. Wyoming held them to 118 rushing yards on the day.

Nevada cut the lead to 28-21 with 6:36 remaining in the game on a seven-yard pass from Stewart to wide receiver Jerico Richardson. On the ensuing kickoff, Nevada pinned Wyoming deep in their own territory at the Cowboys’ own 13-yard line following an illegal block by the Pokes. The Cowboys tried to run as much time off the clock as possible on the possession. Hill carried four times for 12 yards, and Coffman was able to connect with Hollister for 13 yards on a critical third down and two situation to gain a first down. UW was able to run three minutes and 17 seconds off the clock, but was forced to punt. Cowboy junior Ethan Wood hit a big 50-yard punt that was downed at the Nevada 14-yard line.

The Wolf Pack had 3:19 remaining to try and tie the game. They moved the ball down to the Wyoming 36, but on a fourth and five from the 36, the Cowboy defense came up with perhaps the play of the game. Junior D.J. May forced Stewart out of the pocket on a blitz, he was joined by fellow linebacker Eric Nzeocha. May tripped up Stewart for a sack of 18 yards as Nzeocha hit Stewart forcing a fumble and ending the Nevada drive back at the Nevada 46-yard line.

“We sent a blitz on the last play,” said May. “I tried to make the tackle. Eric (Nzeocha) and Eddie (Yarbrough) came in an tried to force the fumble. I kept with it, and went for the tackle. It wasn’t the first time our defense has been faced with adversity. We never change our mentality, and our fight has always been there.”

Hill would break a 33-yard run on a second and eight play on the final drive and time ran out as the Cowboys captured their first win of the season and ended a nine-game losing streak dating back to last season.

Following the game, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl was extremely happy for his team. “It was a really good effort by our players,” said Bohl. “We are very pleased. We knew Nevada had an explosive offense and would make a comeback. I thought it was Cam’s (Coffman) best game. Tanner (Gentry) made some great plays, as well, and our line did a great job protecting. We also had our running game going.

“It was gratifying to see a lot of young players come out and play well. I couldn’t be happier for our players. I thought the first half we played about as good a football as we have played all year.

Wyoming’s offense was extremely balanced on the day, rushing for 272 yards and passing for 213 for 485 yards of total offense. In addition to Coffman’s and Hill’s big numbers, Gentry had four catches for 86 yards and a touchdown before he suffered a shoulder injury in the second half. Maulhardt caught six passes for 54 yards and one score.

The Cowboy defense forced Nevada away from what it likes to do, which is run the ball, and forced the Wolf Pack to throw the football. Nevada ended the day with 287 passing yards to go with its 118 rushing yards for 405 yards of total offense.

Leading the Cowboy “D” was May, who had nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and two pass breakups. Freshman cornerback C.J. Jennings, who made his first career start, also recorded nine tackles as did freshman free safety Andrew Wingard.

The Cowboys will travel to Boise, Idaho, next Saturday to take on the Boise State Broncos in a game that will kick off at 8:15 p.m., Mountain Time. The game will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.