The Wyoming football team may need to start chipping in for their fans blood pressure medicine after this game.
One of the most exciting halves in Wyoming football was followed by one of the most stressful. Still in the end the Cowboys (5-2, 2-0) held on for their fifth win of the year 30-27 over San Diego State (4-3, 1-2). That is the exact same score of the 2009 game where Wyoming came from behind to win. That game featured Wyoming doing all it's scoring in the fourth quarter, this time the Pokes did all their damage in the first half.
Brett Smith had a dynamite performance by going 20 of 24 for 287 yards passing and two touchdown passes to Chris McNeill in the first half. He also added two touchdown runs of his own. Wyoming scored on it's first four possessions and held a 30-13 lead at the half. On the night Smith finished with a career high 341 yards passing and also added 24 yards rushing. McNeill had eight catches for 111 yards, his second big performance in a row. The Cowboys also converted their first eight third conversions.
The third quarter was the Ronnie Hillman show. The Pokes contained him the first half but he couldn't be bottled up forever. After pinning the Aztecs at their one Hillman burst outside and took it 99 yards for the touchdown and cut the lead to 30-20. Then he scored again with a minute left in the third to make the score 30-27. For the game Hillman finished with 224 yards rushing and 81 receiving. His first touchdown was on a 71 yard catch on a wheel route in the first quarter.
The fourth quarter was simply a gruel as the Cowboys could do nothing with the ball and San Diego State kept threatening. Turns out the kicker for San Diego State Abel Perez is not very good as he missed an extra point early and then shanked two field goals in the fourth quarter. The final attempt was from 27 yards and was missed badly. It was amazing how poorly the Aztecs executed at times on special teams and in the passing game. Perez could have made the difference with his field goals but the receivers didn't help Ryan Lindley one bit. There were a huge number of drops near the end zone that would have given the Aztecs the lead. Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson are gone and their replacements are killing Lindley's numbers.
Wyoming was unable to move the ball in the second half and really lost their aggressiveness and up tempo attack. The Aztec defense certainly made plenty of adjustments on defense and were able to put a ton of pressure on Smith the second half. Rocky Long certainly got his team fired in the second half but luckily they fell short.
This was a huge win for the Cowboys and their bowl chances. The Cowboys certainly will be challenged at home next week against TCU. But now a win over Air Force seems more realistic so the Pokes may be able to get that seventh win against New Mexico. Still don't want to count your chickens before they are hatched but this was really a huge win for the Cowboys. It would have been heartbreaking to lose this game after the amazing performance in the first half. Winning is so much better.