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Wyoming pulls out Double OT thriller in New Mexico Bowl

Final - 12.19.2009 1 2 3 4 2OT Total
Fresno St. Bulldogs 0 14 7 7 0 28
Wyoming Cowboys 7 7 3 11 7 35

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Did you really expect anything less from the Wyoming Cowboys after this season? After coming back from 11 down in the fourth quarter to force the game into over time. David Leonard caught a touchdown pass to give the Cowboys the lead, then the defense stepped up and stopped Fresno State on downs to give the Cowboys (7-6) the New Mexico Bowl title in a 35-28 2OT victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-5).  

This is an underrated bowl that always has close games and the fourth edition was certainly the best.  The Cardiac Cowboys certainly lived up to their nickname with this game. 

The finish was amazing but the journey to get there was just as good.  Full recap after the jump.


Quarter 1

On their second drive Alvester Alexander busted through the right side untouched and took it 68 yards to give Wyoming a 7-0 lead.

Quarter 2

Ryan Mathews busted out a 29 yard run on a fourth and four from the Wyoming 33. One the next play he picks a 6 yard TD run. Tied at 7's.

Austyn Carta-Samuels finds Senior Greg Bolling for a jump ball 21 yard TD catch. Wyoming up 14-7.

Ryan Colbrun shoots a laser and Jamel Hamler makes a great catch to tie things up at 14.

Wyoming drives down the field with time winding down in the half. Ian Watts has his 50 yard field attempt blocked to end the half.

Quarter 3

Fresno does a reverse that turns into a pass by WR Chastin West to find a wide open Jamel Hamler for a 43 yard touchdown. Fresno up 21-14.

Watts kicks a 40 yard field goal on the follow drive. Fresno up 21-17.

Here is where we'll pick up the action in the fourth quarter. Chris Lewis picks off a tipped pass by Austyn Carta-Samuels and returns it to the Wyoming 6. Two plays later Ryan Mathews grabs his second touchdown of the game and the Bulldogs now lead 28-17.

Wyoming drives downs the field and Austyn Carta-Samuels hits Dave Leonard a short pass then Leonard takes it 12 yards up the middle for the score. Down 28-23 Coach Christensen decides to go for two and make it a three point game. ACS hits Greg Bolling for the conversion and now
Fresno is up just 28-25.

On the ensuing kickoff Marlon Moore has a big return and gets the ball inside the Wyoming 50. Fresno looks to be rolling until Mitch Unrein strips the ball from Ryan Mathews. The ball never hit the ground and no one seemed to notice including the referees. Unrein came up with the ball and pleaded his case but the refs said that Fresno had the ball and the first down. Right before the ball was snapped the played was finally reviewed. Without that review the game would have been over for the Cowboys. The review comes back and it's Wyoming ball at their own 26. What makes the strip by Unrein even more impressive is the fact this is first time EVER that Ryan Mathews has fumbled in his collegiate career. With over 500 rushes over three seasons Mathews had never fumbled until now. Humongous play by Senior Mitch Unrein in his final game as a Cowboy.

"The Drive"

With 8:08 left on the clock Wyoming is down by three and struggling to move the ball. On 4th and 2 from their own 34 Wyoming lines up to punt. P Austin McCoy rolls out to the right for rugby style punt but instead finds David Leonard on a short pass, Leonard then fights for a yard and grabs the first down. On the next set of downs Wyoming faces itself in another 4th and 2 situation, this time at their own 45. ACS finds a gap and scrambles to the left and picks up 8 yards and first down. Three plays later Wyoming finds itself with 4th and 4 and time starting to tick off the clock. David Leonard is on the ground but is able to maintain control and grab a 6 yard pass for another first down. On 3rd and 15th from the Fresno State 40 ACS is under pressure and rolls out to the right and hits Zach Bolger at the 27 and Bolger winds his way through traffic to get the ball to the 20. The Pokes have no luck in moving the ball and in comes Ian Watts. Watts the true freshman walk on lines up and hooks a 37 yard field goal just inside the right upright to tie the game at 28. Fresno just kneels the ball after the kickoff and we are headed to over time. Wyoming used 19 plays and took 7:48 off the clock to raise the blood pressure of everyone watching the dramatic drive.

"The Stop"

Wyoming wins the coin toss and wants the ball second. Fresno slowly works their way down towards the end zone and are looking good. Ryan Colburns busts out a 9 yard run and is stopped at the Wyoming 1. Ryan Matthews is stopped twice and then Colburn is stuffed on a QB sneak and Fresno comes up empty. Pat Hill decides to go for it instead of hitting a chip shot field goal and the move backfired. Ryan Mathews is stoned on 4th and Goal from the 1. Kudos to Wyoming's goal line D for keeping the dangerous Bulldog offense out of the end zone.

The Pokes get the ball and try a couple of runs with ACS but basically just try and lineup Watts for the game winning field goal. Watts aka "Mr. Clutch" has come big for the Cowboys all season long and helped win the Bronze Boot which let the Cowboys become bowl eligible. Making 10/11 for the season Watts seemed like a sure thing. Watts ends up pulling a 40 yards field goal waaaay to the left and it looks like disaster for the Pokes. It would be the easiest thing in the world for the Cowboys to crumble and become defeated. Fans, players and coaches had started to rush the field in anticipation of the victory. Everyone had to go back to their spots and the fans to get back in the stands.


Wyoming gets the ball to start the second half. On second and 10 from the 25 ACS runs to the right then scrambles all the way back to the left with two Bulldog defenders about to drop him for a loss but attempts a forward pitch to David Leonard that is too far. On 3rd and 10 ACS is hit while looking for Greg Bolling near the endzone. Phillip Thomas is called for interference and Wyoming gets a fresh set of downs and the ball at the Fresno 10 yard line.

Brandon Stewart gains three yards on first down but Wyoming is called for holding on the next play to move the ball back to the 18. Samuels find Bolling for a 5 yard pickup. On 3rd and 12 ACS is nearly sacked but sneaks out to his left and puts up a floating pass that finds David Leonard in the endzone. Watts makes the extra point and Wyoming leads 35-28.

Fresno gets the ball and on 3rd and 5 Ryan Colburn can't hang onto a bad snap that goes back 15 yards. He picks up the ball at the 35 and escapes the Wyoming pressure but makes bad throw misses a wide open receiver. On 4th and 5 Colburn scrambles and is tackled but the ball comes out and a linemen recovers for the Bulldogs. Two Cowboys tackle him before and get any yards and the game is finally over.

Wyoming wins an amazing game in which they were 10 point underdogs and nearly everyone in the nation predicted a Fresno State blowout. On the year the Cowboys know have five fourth quarter come backs and finish the season at 7-6. This is the first winning season for the Cowboys since 2004 when they also finished 7-6 and won the Las Vegas Bowl over UCLA.

Austyn Carta-Samuels was named New Mexico Bowl MVP. For the game he finished with 201 yards passing and 3 touchdowns plus 71 more yards on the ground. Cowboy RB Alvester Alexander had 137 yards rushing on just 12 attempts. David Leonard hauled seven catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Leonard led the team in receptions and recieving yards this season but only had one touchdown coming into tonight's game. The Pokes put up 438 total yards with 204 passing and 234 on the ground.

Fresno State came into the game averaging 435 yards a game this season but were held to just 366 yards by a Wyoming defense that many thought would be over matched. Ryan Mathews finished with 144 yards (7 below his average) and two touchdowns. Ryab Colburn was 13 of 19 for just 126 yards. Jamel Hamler grabbed 7 catches for 85 yards and two scores.

The big problem for Fresno was their inability to convert on key third and fourth down situations. On 3rd downs the Bulldogs were just 2 for 10 compared to the Cowboys who were 9 of 20. Fresno converted 2 of 4 fourth downs while Wyoming was a perfect 4 for 4. The Cowboys had over a six minute advantage in time of possession.

Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs 19 26
Total Yards 366 438
Passing 169 204
Rushing 197 234
Penalties 5-61 3-19
3rd Down Conversions 2-10 9-20
4th Down Conversions 2-4 4-4
Turnovers 2 1
Possession 26:47 33:13