Ok now that we got the most unorginal headline out of the way can discuss the much needed win by the Wyoming Cowboys (2-3, 0-1) tonight. It was dark and rainy in Toledo but a strong first half by Wyoming was enough to hold on for the victory and snap a three game losing streak.
The Cowboys were up 17-0 at halftime and 20-0 in the third quarter before the Toledo Rockets (3-2, 2-0) scored 15 unanswered to nearly pull off the come from behind victory. For the second straight week the Cowboys struggled severely in the fourth quarter but after stopping Toledo on a 4th and 5 with 3:50 remaining the Pokes got a crucial first down and ran out the clock.
Toledo outgained Wyoming 369 to 266 but the Rockets failed terribly in two departments: special teams and conversions. Kicker Ryan Casano tore his ACL earlier in the week during the practice so the Rockets gave the the job to Billy Claus who had never attempted a kick before in his career. Claus was the former starting punter for Toledo before losing the gig this year.
Claus missed his one attempt from 33 yards and the lack of confidence in the kicking game forced Toledo to go for it on a 4th and 8 at the Wyoming 33 in the fourth quarter. The Rockets came up one yard short which was a common theme all night. The Rockets went a combined 2 for 19 on third and fourth down conversions while Wyoming went 6 of 19.
Austyn Carta-Samuelswas the leading rusher for Wyoming with 59 yards, he was also 11 of 22 for 102 yards passing. Carta-Samuels did have one interception in the fourth quarter that gave Toledo a chance to take the lead but the defense held firm. Two other players had big passing plays in the game. David Leonard found Chris McNeill for a 37 yard touchdown pass on a reverse. Austin McCoy faked a punt on 4th and 14 on the Wyoming 42 and found Marcell Gipson open for a 34 yard completion which helped setup the crucial Wyoming field in the third quarter.
Besides the great pass from Leonard he also led the team with seven receptions for 69 yards. He was the only Wyoming receiver to have more than one catch. Ian Watts hit both of his field goals on the night. The Cowboys had not even attempted a single field goal in their first four games.
This is the first victory for the Cowboys under Dave Christensen against a team with a winning record during the regular season. All six wins last season were against teams with sub .500 records except for the New Mexico Bowl. The Cowboys also improved to 2-0 in out of conference road victories against non BCS teams under Christensen.
This victory is a huge boost to the Cowboys after two large losses to ranked teams and then a tough loss to Air Force at home last weekend. With an upcoming roadtrip to TCU the road won't be easy but grabbing this second win now keeps the Cowboys hopes of becoming bowl eligible alive.
Cowboy Joe: David Leonard - After earning the Cowboy Low award last weak for a costly fumble Leonard had his best game of the season and showed why he was the number one option last year. He even threw a 37 yard touchdown pass to Chris McNeill.
Cowboy Low: Alvester Alexander had a 13 yard rush for a touchdown but that accounted for more than one third of his rushing yards for the game. Alexander finished with 21 carries for 35 yards an average of 1.7 ypc. Last week he had 123 on the ground, not the encore we were looking for this week.
Cowboy Foe: Adonis Thomas put up 96 yards rushing which is three more then Wyoming managed as a team. He also had the second touchdown which cut the Cowboy lead down to 5 points.