The Wyoming Cowboys beat the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in double overtime on Saturday afternoon by a score of 40-37. It was the Cowboys’ first victory of the season and it came in front of a packed War Memorial home crowd. The Cowboys thrived in nearly every facet of the game on Saturday, scoring on offense, defense, and special teams, seemingly shaking off every bit of rust from their opener against Illinois in Week 0. It was a day to remember that included plenty of standout performances from familiar and unfamiliar names alike.
The Cowboys were ready from the get-go, opening the contest with an immediate bang on defense as they stripped the ball carrier deep in his own territory on the second play of the game, resulting in a recovery in the end zone by Easton Gibbs for a touchdown.
But Tulsa and QB Davis Brin showed poise and efficiency through the air all day long.
On their second possession of the game, the Golden Hurricane marched 62 yards downfield on 13 plays down to the Cowboys’ 13 yard-line. The Cowboy defense would hold from there, only allowing a field goal to Tulsa K Zack Long, who was busy all day, cutting the Wyoming lead to 7-3.
The Cowboy offense would finally get their hands on the ball just about six minutes into the game. Andrew Peasley, fresh off a disastrous performance one week ago, looked like a different player in his first game on his new home turf. In the first Wyoming possession of the game, Peasley rushed for 18 yards and completed all four pass attempts for 27 yards, leading the Pokes to a 13-play, 67-yard drive that was capped off by a John Hoyland field goal, extending their lead back to 7.
The second quarter started with both teams getting defensive stops and not surrendering any points or field position. But, on Tulsa’s second possession of the quarter, Brin carved the Wyoming secondary for 77 yards through the air that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run from Steven Anderson, knotting things at 10. Tulsa kept their momentum with some stout defense on Wyoming’s next drive, forcing the Pokes into a three and out. Following a booming punt from Clayton Stewart that pinned the Hurricane inside of their own 5-yard line, Davis Brin and the Tulsa offense kept their foot on the gas pedal. In their longest drive of the day, Tulsa drove down to the Wyoming 10, where they would eventually be held and settle for a chip-shot field goal to take the lead 13-10 with just under three minutes remaining in the first half.
But the Wyoming offense would respond. On their very next drive, the Pokes moved the ball quickly downfield to the Tulsa 48, thanks to runs by McNeely and James, as well as a few completions by Peasley. Peasley would cap off the drive with his longest passing play of the season up to this point, a 48-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to Will Pelissier, to regain the lead with under one minute left in the half.
It looked like Wyoming would go into the half with the lead for the first time this season.
They did not.
Tulsa stormed back thanks to consecutive deep completions by Davis Brin and some help from Wyoming with pass interference penalties. Brin capped off the scoring drive with a 5-yard completion to WR Malachai Jones with eight seconds remaining as Wyoming would take a knee and Tulsa ended up taking a 20-17 lead over Wyoming into the second half.
If you thought the fireworks of the first half were over, guess again. They were just getting started.
The second half started with the two teams exchanging three and outs, but the game quickly gained speed when Wyoming’s Ryan Marquez flew in and blocked Tulsa’s punt, recovering the football and returning it to the end-zone for six, giving the Pokes back the lead at 24-20.
That wasn’t the last lead change in the game. It was still very far from it. Tulsa would conclude the third quarter scoring with a 9-play, 75-yard march downfield capped off by a huge throw whilst under pressure from Brin to WR JuanCarlos Santana for a 41-yard score, bringing back the lead for the Golden Hurricane, 27-24.
After a few punts, the third-quarter scoring would conclude, but Tulsa was on its way to adding to its lead. A few runs from Jordan Ford and a few more completions from Davis Brin led to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Brin to WR Keylon Stokes to give Tulsa the 34-24 lead, their biggest of the day.
From here, it was mostly an exchange of big plays and an epic battle between two top-notch kickers in Tulsa’s Zack Long and Wyoming’s John Hoyland.
Hoyland put the Pokes back on the board first with a massive, clutch, career-long 55-yard field goal to cut the Tulsa lead back to seven. After a Cowboy defensive hold, Long would try to respond on the ensuing Tulsa drive with a 49-yard try that was no good, only the fourth miss in his career.
The Cowboys took over at their own 31-yard line down one score. Following some powerful runs by RBs Swen and McNeely, Andrew Peasley connected with a wide-open Joshua Cobbs for a 51-yard score, knotting the score once again, at 34.
After that, chaos ensued.
The Pokes took the ball back and Peasley calmly orchestrated what seemed to be a huge game-winning drive, calmly completing passes and delivering when needed. It wasn’t until Swen coughed up the ball in the red zone and it was recovered by Tulsa that things began to look like they were falling apart. With the way Brin and his receivers had been playing all day, it almost felt like the Pokes had drawn their last breath.
Enter Cam Stone.
With under two minutes remaining, Brin completed a huge 33-yard pass to Keylon Stokes in open space, but as Stokes was running downfield Wyoming CB Cam Stone delivered a monster hit that jarred the ball loose. Wyoming recovered the football and it seemed like the football gods were once again on the Cowboys’ side.
With one final opportunity for the win, the Cowboy offense stepped back on the field but was only able to get the ball to the Tulsa 27, setting up Hoyland for a 44-yard attempt for the win.
The kick went up…
And knocked off the top of the right upright and out.
Wyoming would win the toss in OT and defer to Tulsa. The Wyoming defense came up with a stop and forced the chip-shot field goal from Long, making the score 37-34. Up next, Wyoming moved the ball well up to their 6-yard line, but on 4th and 3 had to settle for a field goal try from Hoyland to tie the score once again 37-37. In the second overtime, Wyoming started with the ball. They didn’t gain as much traction this time, and on 4th and 10, it was another field goal from Hoyland, this time for the lead. Then, the Cowboy defense stepped up big. Cowboy linebacker Suiaunoa finally got to the QB on second down for a big-time loss. After an incompletion from Brin, Zack Long had to make a 43-yard field goal to keep the game tied.
The Cowboys escaped their home opener and gained their first victory in dramatic fashion. Rejoice Cowboy fans, this team played passionate football and it paid off.
So who stood out?
Well, the real answer is EVERYONE. Up and down the line there were contributors on Saturday for the Pokes, but I’ll pick three that I think deserve to be recognized for their impact on this win.
1. QB Andrew Peasley: Quarterback Andrew Peasley was phenomenal in this victory. He did it with his legs and arm, recording 10 carries for 45 yards, as well as going 20/30 for 256 yards and 2 TDs through the air. He was the best version of himself and hopefully, he can keep it up heading into next week.
2. LB Shae Suiaunoa: Poke fans, get excited. This 6’3” 232 lb. sophomore linebacker had himself a DAY. Suiaunoa recorded 7 TOT with 5 SOLO and had the biggest sack of the season on Saturday for Wyoming. He was exactly the type of help Wyoming needs alongside Easton Gibbs to make this defense work like a well-oiled machine.
3. K John Hoyland: Yes, he missed the potential game-winner in the fourth, but how much can we ask of Hoyland? He made a career-long 55-yard field goal in a huge spot for Wyoming and went 4/5 on FGs and 4/4 on XP, accounting for 16 of Wyoming’s 40 points. I’ll take that any day of the week.
The Cowboys will be back in Laramie to take on the University of Northern Colorado next Saturday at 2 p.m. MT.