Wyoming football topples Air Force to win Mountain West opener, improves to 3-1

NOTE: The following is an article courtesy of the University of Wyoming Athletics.

LARAMIE, Wyoming — From their first possession of Friday night’s game, the Wyoming Cowboys showed they were determined to play their best football of the season and they did just that, winning their third straight game by capturing a 17-game victory. -14 over the previously undefeated Air Force Falcons.

With the win, Wyoming finds itself with the best record in the Mountain West at 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the league.

The Cowboys’ offense beat the Falcons on both the ground and in the air on Friday night. Wyoming accounted for 180 rushing yards to the Air Force’s 171. The Cowboys threw for 162 yards to the Air Force’s 101. Wyoming also made 6 of 11 third-down attempts and won the biggest moment of the possession battle when he was playing the Falcons, holding the ball. for 30 minutes and 34 seconds to the Air Force’s 29 minutes and 26 seconds.

Facing an Air Force rushing attack that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation, averaging 508.5 yards per game, the Cowboys’ defense held the Falcons to 171 rushing yards, 337.5 yards short of their average.

“Great team win,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said.. “We’ve always had very competitive games against the Air Force. I felt like this was the best football team in the Air Force since I’ve been our head coach.

“Our guys had a great week of practice. We are an emerging football team. We’re a young soccer team in a lot of places, and a lot of those guys are growing up fast. I really think our coaching staff did a great job of creating a game plan and the players went out there and executed it.

“We beat a very good football team tonight. I drink a lot. The boys are there yelling, ‘Powder River, Let ‘er Buck.’ They have embraced the state of Wyoming. I hope the state of Wyoming is proud of those guys.

“This (Air Force) team was scary coming here. Air Force has good players, and at halftime we changed the script for them. We had (the advantage in) possession time. We had made more plays, and I felt pretty good about it.

“It was a great win for us.”

There was a lot of individual praise for the Pokes. Middle linebacker and defensive captain Easton Gibbs did not start the game after suffering from flu-like symptoms Thursday night and into Friday. Although he didn’t start the game, he entered the first quarter early and finished the day with six tackles and one tackle for loss.

His fellow defensive captain, nose tackle Cole Godbout, led all players in the game with nine tackles, had one tackle for loss and two quarterback rushes. Redshirt freshman defensive end Braden Siders he had the best game of his young career with six tackles, and defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole also had six tackles. Redshirt freshman linebacker Read Sunn, who started in place of Gibbs, contributed four tackles against the Falcons.

Cowboy running back Titus Swen recorded his first 100-yard rushing game of the season and fourth of his career with 102 rushing yards Swen scored the game-winning touchdown with 6:06 remaining in the game on a five-yard run where he wouldn’t be he stopped, fighting his way into the end zone with the help of his teammates who pushed the Air Force defense back over the goal line.

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Swen also had a great run on Wyoming’s final possession of the game. Facing a third-and-13 at the Wyoming 29-yard line, Swen sliced ​​to his right and got past the Air Force defense for a 17-yard gain and a first down. That play and a play later in the series when running mate Dawaiian McNeely gained three yards on a third and two on Air Force 46 allowed Wyoming’s offense to exhaust the final 4 minutes and 47 seconds of the game and prevented Air Force recover the ball.

Quarterback Andrew Peasley played another outstanding game for the Cowboys. He completed 18 of 23 passes for a 78.3 completion percentage, 162 yards, a touchdown pass and an interception. He marked the third straight game this season in which Peasley completed more than 60% of his passes. He completed 20 of 30 passes (66.7 percent) in a win over Tulsa and 19 of 30 passes (63.3 percent) against Northern Colorado in a home win.

It’s the first time a Cowboys quarterback has completed more than 60 percent of his passes in three straight games since Cameron Coffman did it in 2015 against Washington State, New Mexico and Appalachian State.

Wyoming played a nearly perfect first half. Wyoming’s defense limited Air Force to just 87 yards of total offense and just 47 rushing yards, while the Cowboys’ offense generated 183 total yards in the first half, including 111 rushing yards and 72 passing yards.

Wyoming took the opening kickoff and drove 73 yards in 15 plays to the Air Force two-yard line, where on a quarter-and-goal, Cowboys kicker John Hoyland came in and kicked a 20-yard field goal to give the Pokes a 3-0 lead. with 7:28 remaining in the first quarter. For Hoyland, it was his 11th field goal in 12 attempts this season. He entered the game leading the nation in field goals made per game (3.33) and was No. 6 in the nation in scoring (12.3 points per game). The Wyoming trip took 7:32 clock.

Air Force would move the ball 39 yards in 12 plays to the Wyoming 36-yard line on their first possession, but Falcon placekicker Matthew Dapore missed a 53-yard attempt with just 46 seconds remaining in the period. The Falcons’ drive took 6:32 and the first quarter would end with Wyoming running two plays on their second possession as he ended the quarter.

Wyoming moved the ball to Air Force 36 as the second period began, but on the first play of the second quarter, Peasley was intercepted by Falcon defensive back Trey Taylor.

Air Force and Wyoming traded punts on the next two possessions. The Cowboys forced Air Force into a second punt in the second quarter and a 36-yard punt by the Falcons gave the Pokes the ball at the AFA 42-yard line.

After runs of five and 23 yards from Swen, Peasley would find the tight end Treyton Welch in the left corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass and the Cowboys led 10-0 with 7:21 remaining at the half. This is how half would end.

For Wyoming, it was the first time the Cowboys shut out a team at the half since Nov. 20, 2021, when UW shut out Utah State in the second half in Logan, Utah.

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The third quarter began with Air Force getting back into the game as they engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive on their first possession of the second half. Falcon quarterback Haaziq Daniels capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Cormier to bring Air Force within three points at 10-7 at 7:45. Neither team would pose a scoring threat for the rest of the third quarter.

Air Force started their first drive of the fourth quarter at their own 20-yard line and proceeded to move the ball to the Wyoming 41-yard line. That’s when Daniels found wide receiver Cade Harris behind the Wyoming defense for a 41-yard touchdown pass and suddenly Air Force had its first lead at 14-10 with 9:58 left in the game.

On the next possession, Peasley would show off his leadership skills. Wyoming was at its own 26-yard line and facing a third-and-9. Peasley found wide receiver Wyatt Wieland downfield on the left side for 24 yards and a first down at the 50-yard line. Peasley rushed for five yards on the next play and McNeely rushed for 10 yards after that.

After a one-yard run from Swen, the Pokes were at Air Force 34 on one second and nine. Peasley then connected with fullback/tight end Parker Christensen. down the middle for 29 yards to Air Force five. It was there that Swen would not be denied, as he and his teammates forced the Air Force defense back into the end zone for what would be the game-winning touchdown and give UW a 17-10 lead with 6 :06 remaining.

The Falcons won a first down on what would be their last possession before the Cowboys’ defense forced them to punt on a fourth down seven.

The Cowboys offense owned the ball for the final 4:47, going 30 yards in 11 plays to run out time.

Friday’s game marked the 60th time the Cowboys and Falcons have met on a football field. The series dates back to November 2, 1957, when the two teams first met in Laramie. That game ended in a 7-7 tie. With their win on Friday night, the Cowboys have now won 27 games in the series to the Air Force’s 30 wins. There have been three draws.

Wyoming has now won seven of the last 11 meetings with the Air Force. During the Craig Bohl was in Wyoming, the Pokes won five of the eight meetings and all four games in Laramie: 17-14 in 2022, 35-27 in 2018, 35-26 in 2016 and 17-13 in 2014. The last time the Falcons won at Laramie it was in 2012 by just one point, 28-27.

Following: The Wyoming Cowboys will play an old rival next week when they travel to Provo, Utah to face the BYU Cougars on Saturday, September 24. That game is scheduled to start at 8:15 pm and will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2. The specific TV network announcement will be made early next week.

The last time the two rivals played was in the 2016 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. BYU won that hard-fought game by a score of 24-21. Next week’s game will mark the 79th meeting between the two schools.

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