“I thought we played subpar. You play subpar against a good football team, that’s what’s going to happen.” - Wyoming Head Coach Craig Bohl
The Wyoming Cowboys’ trip over to Falcon Stadium did not give them the result that they so desperately wanted. The Pokes began their journey into conference play on Saturday evening losing in underwhelming fashion, by a score of 24-14.
Falcons were soaring early
The game was never really that close, and although the Cowboys made it more of a contest at the conclusion of the first half, they were never really able to generate enough momentum on their sideline to gain the upper hand. Time of possession was a key factor in this one as the Falcons scored first on what ended up being an everlasting 8 minute and 18 second opening drive. The drive included two fourth-down conversions and was inevitably finished off by a Brad Roberts touchdown run to make it an early 7-0 Falcon advantage. On the ensuing Cowboy drive the Falcon defense was able to immediately force a three and out, as Chambers and the offense were unable to give their defense any time to rest. The turnover bug caught both teams on their next two drives, but only one team, the Falcons, were able to capitalize. The Falcons turned the Sean Chambers fumble into 7 points and took even more time off the clock in a 6 minute and 8 second scoring drive, to make it 14-0.
But the Pokes marched on back
With just under five minutes left in the half, the Cowboys finally generated a little momentum on offense courtesy of Xazavian Valladay. Valladay broke a 74 yard run from inside his own 5 yard line, and five plays later, the Cowboys were in the end zone for the first time. Following the score, the Pokes finally forced the Falcons to punt, giving their offense the ability to stay in a groove. They did just that. Wyoming ended the half with an encouraging five-play touchdown drive, this time riding the arm and legs of Chambers. On five plays Chambers delivered, cashing three consecutive completions, the last one coming in the end zone to Isaiah Neyor, to make it a tie game.
But the second half was all “Air” Force
Maybe the most shocking thing about Saturday’s contest was how well the Falcons executed through the air. QB Haaziq Daniels was able to complete 7 out of his 10 pass attempts for 110 yards and 1 TD, most of which came in the second half. Daniels and Roberts were a nightmare combination all day for the Muma and the Poke defense, with Roberts finishing his day with 33 carries for 140 yards and 1 TD right alongside Daniels. The Cowboys were shut out in the second half and were not nearly as efficient. Chambers finished his line completing 11 of 28 passes for 143 yards and 1 TD, while fumbling twice. Valladay and Swen split carries, combining for 13 carries for 117 yards total.
At the end of the day, Wyoming needed to limit Air Force’s time on the field, and they were unable to do so. The Falcons possessed the ball for a total of 38 minutes and 48 seconds, compared to Wyoming’s 21 minutes and 12 seconds. A few less 4th down conversions however, and we could have potentially had ourselves a completely different ballgame. Nonetheless, the better team won on Saturday and The Pokes will look to bounce back next week against a very dangerous Fresno State team.
Three things to work on
1. Quarterback play: Chambers had trouble all night completing passes and holding onto possession of the football. He’s going to have to step up and lead by example these next few games in order to stay in contention in the Mountain Division.
2. Consistency on both sides of the ball: The defense struggled mightily early on in halting the Air Force ground attack. They need to do a better job of gaining leverage, limiting positive yardage and being more physical up front.
3. Offensive efficiency: The Cowboys had too many short drives that stalled. They must do a better job next week of possessing the ball and getting first downs if they want to come out on top next week.