The Wyoming Cowboys traveled down to Boise to compete against the always formidable Boise State Broncos on Friday night. The game proved to be a physical and defensive battle the whole way through, as the Broncos prevailed in the end in a game that wasn’t quite as close as the score might indicate. The Broncos beat the Cowboys 23-13, for their second victory on the blue turf this season and their fifth straight victory over the Pokes.
Poke offense once again stalls
Neither team impacted the scoring until late in the first quarter, as both teams were able to stunt their opposing offenses early on. After the Pokes totaled 2 yards on their first six plays of the game, the Broncos were finally able to distribute the first blow. George Holani broke through for a huge 38-yard run that planted the Broncos firmly in Wyoming territory, setting up an eventual 2-yard touchdown pass from Hank Bachmeier to Riley Smith. The score capped off a nine-play, 78-yard drive that was aided by one crucial offsides penalty on Wyoming.
Both teams would punt on their next two drives until Wyoming finally found some life. The Cowboys went eight plays for 76 yards on their best drive of the game to find the end zone on a gritty Titus Swen 7-yard run up the gut, to even the score. The drive was highlighted by a determined 25-yard catch and run on 1st & 10 by Isaiah Neyor, that set up the opportunity.
The Broncos, however, never wavered. They ended the half with a 43-yard field goal from Jonah Dalmas as time expired, to make the score 10-7 heading into the second half.
And the Broncos held the lead
After an immensely defensive third quarter that only saw the Broncos tack on an extra three points, Boise State was able to keep momentum on their side. With just under nine minutes left in the game, Levi Williams’s tipped pass off the hands of Tight End Treyton Welch would come down in the hands of Bronco Linebacker Demetri Washington. Boise State’s twenty-first turnover of the season placed them on the Wyoming 13-yard line and set up a 12-yard touchdown run from Andrew Van Buren, only two plays later.
Wyoming was unable to generate any sustainable drives until it was too late. After the Broncos added on yet another Jonah Dalmas field goal, making the score 23-7 in their favor, Levi Williams helped pad his and his teammate Isaiah Neyor’s stats with a 74-yard catch and run as time ran out, making the final score 23-13.
Three Positive Takeaways:
1. The Williams to Neyor connection is new and exciting
If there’s one thing that is clear up to this point, it’s that Levi Williams has a favorite receiver. Levi and Isaiah connected six times for 126 yards in the effort against the Broncos. Neyor leads the Wide Reciever room in catches and yards by a longshot, totaling 32 receptions for 588 yards and 9 touchdowns up to this point. The tandem is also young. Both players are Freshman, which means that this is a connection that has plenty of room to grow and can potentially be around in Laramie for quite some time.
2. Their defense is still atop the conference
Not that you always want to lean on your defense, but Wyoming has a good one. The Pokes have two Linebackers that will almost certainly make All-Mountain West teams and despite the 225 yards given up through the air against the Broncos, their secondary still sits atop the conference ranks. The team also ranks fifth in the entire conference in Total Defense.
3. There’s still hope for a bowl game
Wyoming has five wins on the season with two more remaining. They will visit Utah State on Saturday and then welcome in Hawaii the following weekend. If they win both of those games, which I believe is a very realistic possibility, they will qualify as bowl-eligible.