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Cowboys come up two bullets short in shootout with Aztecs

In the Jersey Shore G-T-L stands for Gym, Tan, Laundry.  At San Diego State G-T-L stood for Gym, Tan, and Losing.  That is the case no longer for the Aztecs (6-2, 3-1) who are bowl eligible for the first time since 1998.  The loss ends the hopes of Wyoming 2-7 (0-4) to make it to back to back bowl games.  With one of of the lowest scoring offenses in the country this wasn't supposed to be a close game but Wyoming turned this into a shootout.

Coming into the game Ronnie Hillman was one of the top running backs in the country.  The Pokes run defense was ranked last in the nation coming into the game but allowed 76 total yards on the ground and just 44 for Hillman.  Unfortunately the ground game wasn't needed as the Aztecs went to the air with great success against the Pokes.  Ryan Lindley was 16 of 32 passing for 365 yards, three touchdowns as well as two interceptions.  

The twin headed receiving monster of Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson had monster games for the Aztecs.  Sampson had seven catches for 175 yards and two scores while Brown had five catches for 144 yards.  The two touchdown catches by Sampson were 59 and 56 yards a piece,  Brown also had a 53 yard catch.  

This was a winnable game for Wyoming but costly errors cost the Pokes a victory. Full analysis after the jump.

The offense clearly had it's best game of the season and it was nice to see some fight in the Cowboys in the second half. The Pokes went back to the spread and the team looked a lot more comfortable than in previous games.  Austyn Carta-Samuels put together a great game and showed why everyone was so high on him last year. 

For the game ACS totaled 184 yards passing, 53 yards rushing and four touchdowns.  Three scores were passing and his last one was a 21 yards run.  ACS was sacked five times for 52 yards so he actually had a much better game on the ground when you factor in the sacks.  There was one costly interception in the second half that  set up San Diego State on a short field and they scored a touchdown. 

Alvester Alexander led the Pokes with 86 yards rushing and also scored on a 17 yard run.  Alexander was held in check most of the first half but came out firing in the second.  Another flashback to last year, David Leonard was a stud receiver again.  Leonard had seven catches for 74 yards and two scores.  Zach Bolger had 40 yards receiving including a very nice touchdown where caught the ball and just barely caught the corner of the pylon.

The two big trouble areas for the Pokes were penalties and stopping third down conversions.  Ten penalties for 71 yards is brutal.  On three drives the Cowboys committed at least two penalties, they didn't score on any of those drives.  Coming into the game Wyoming was one of the teams with the least penalties committed.  

San Diego State was able to convert on 11 of 16 third down situations and only had to punt once the entire game.  The defense played pretty well on the first two downs but had no answer on third down.  One stop in the second half could have been the difference maker for the Cowboys on Saturday.

Now that a bowl game is out of the Cowboys future they still need to make the most out of the last three games on the season.  Next week the Cowboys face winless New Mexico and then one win UNLV.  Wins in these two games could be a huge boost for the offense and defense heading into the Border War and the off season.



Cowboy Joe:  Has to go to Austyn Carta-Samuels who had his best game of the year.

Cowboy Low:  Cowboy secondary.  Yes, the two picks were nice by Prosinski and Gipson.  But giving up the easy scores and big plays were killer.  3 plays of 50+ is not the way to contain the offense.

Cowboy Foe:  Ryan Lindley was able to find DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown when he needed them most.  Ronnie Hillman gets most of the publicity for the Aztecs but Lindley is a very good quarterback.