The Wyoming Cowboys go down in defeat after a 27-20 overtime loss to the hands of the San Jose State Spartans in front of a Homecoming crowd of 19,627 fans in War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys' game-winning 46-yard field goal attempt with two seconds left in regulation went off the right upright and the Spartans scored a touchdown on their first overtime possession, before holding the Pokes out of the endzone on defense.
"Obviously, there are things we can do better as a football team," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "I thought we showed resiliency a couple of times during the game. We knew that it was going to be a close game and it turned out that way."
The Cowboys (3-4, 1-2 Mountain West) and Spartans (3-3, 2-1 Mountain West) were deadlocked in a 10-10 back-and-forth affair through three quarters, before combining for 20 points in the fourth quarter. Wyoming looked to have the game in hand with a three-point lead late in the game, but SJSU converted a 50-yard field goal with 42 seconds left to tie the contest. Back came the Cowboys with a dramatic drive for a 46-yard field goal attempt that would have won the game, but Stuart Williams' kick bounced off the right upright to send the game to an extra period. The Spartans found the endzone with a four-yard touchdown pass on their possession and held on Wyoming's fourth-and-three attempt to secure the victory.
"They have the No. 1 defense in the league and it was going to be hard moving the ball," Bohl said. "They are a good defense. We needed to get on track better and I thought we had chances in the first half. In the second half, we did take advantage of some chances, which I'm pleased with."
The Cowboys offense as a whole struggled throughout much of the ballgame, not being able to sustain any type of drives. The offense was only able to produce 11 first downs and 277 total offensive yards.
Shaun Wick lead the Cowboys on the ground 97 yards on 16 carries and included a 48-yard scoring scamper that moved him into ninth in Cowboy history with 18 in his career. He has five runs of 40-or-more yards this season. Wick was stymied through the first three quarters, though, as he gained 89 of his yards in the fourth quarter and overtime. Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard went 11-of-27 through the air for 119 yards, including finding Wick four times for 27 yards. Senior wide receiver Dominic Rufran finished with two catches for 37 yards to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 44 games, tied for the longest current streak in the NCAA. The Cowboys were without their second leading rusher in D.J. May who was suspended for the contest.
Defensively, redshirt freshman safety Tim Kamana and senior safety Jesse Sampson finished with 10 tackles a piece, both career highs. Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough made eight stops, including 3.5 tackles for loss to go with two sacks and a forced fumble. The Cowboy defense finished with a season-high eight tackles for loss. The defense as a whole looked better than they did the prior weekend against Hawaii but there is still plenty of room for growth.
The first half was a defensive battle, as the two teams combined for just one touchdown and two field goals. The Spartans opened the scoring with a 34-yard field goal on their opening drive, but missed a 47-yard attempt on their next possession. The Cowboys responded with a 36-yard field goal from Williams to tie the contest at 3-3 shortly into the second quarter. The kick capped a 17-play drive that took 9:20, both season highs for the Pokes. SJSU took a 10-3 lead into halftime thanks to a 13-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in the second quarter.
San Jose State continued to move the ball in the second half, but couldn't produce points. The Spartans missed a 31-yard field goal on their opening drive of the second half, before Yarbrough forced a fumble on their second drive that sophomore nose tackle Chase Appleby recovered. The Wyoming defense came up big again on SJSU's ensuing drive when senior cornerback Blair Burns ripped the ball out and returned the fumble 63 yards for a touchdown.
The Spartans retook a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, before Wick burst through the middle on a fourth-and-one play for a 48-yard score. Williams connected on a 19-yard field goal to give Wyoming a 20-17 lead with just under five minutes left before the final theatrics.
The Cowboys had a chance to put the game away when the Spartans had the ball fourth-and-two but connected for a 18-yard gain. Replay on the video board in the stadium showed the ball coming loose from running back Tyler Ervin as safety Kamana defended.
But the call on the field was confirmed and ruled dual possession, which always goes to the offensive player. Tim Harkins, Wyoming sports information director, said officials view television footage of all replays (ESPN 3). The video in the stadium on the video board was Wyoming's in-house feed. The only time officials use in-house video feeds is when there is no TV coverage/footage.
Wyoming heads back out on the road for its next contest, the annual Border War rivalry game against the (6-1, 2-1 Mountain West) Colorado State Rams. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 PM next Saturday from Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado.