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Cowboys Hold On For 38-31 Victory Over Lobos

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Homecoming victory helps Wyoming get back on track.

Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

It was Homecoming in Laramie and Wyoming had been waiting a long time after a sour bye week.  Coming off a disappointing loss to Texas State two weeks ago the Pokes were looking for redemption.  Wins against New Mexico have been fairly common for the most part.  Still when you are hosting an improved Lobos team that leads the nation in rushing you know things aren't going to be easy.

Bob Davie is in second season at New Mexico and is doing a nice job of turning around the train wreck in Albuquerque.  Bringing in his option run game Davie has built a team that likes to wear out defenses with a relentless ground game that averages 367 rushing yards a game.  Stopping the run has been a challenge for Wyoming and that was certainly a cause for concern coming into the game.

Before kickoff the important thing to do was to check the weather forecast.  With weather delays in three games this season the Pokes did not want to experience that again.  Luckily Mother Nature cooperated with mostly clear skies and no delay occurred.

In the end Wyoming improved to 4-2 and 2-0 in Mountain West play.  The 38-31 victory really was a roller coaster and had plenty of potential outcomes.  Wyoming built a 21-0 lead after capitalizing on two New Mexico fumbles.  Just before halftime the Lobos were able to get on the board with a field goal.  The Cowboys used a balance attack with exactly 142 yards and passing.  Shaun Wick was back to being the lead running back and had 46 rushing yards and scored twice.  Brett Smith was in rhythm with 82 rushing yards, 142 passing yards and a touchdown throw to Jalen Claiborne.

It certainly seemed like the Pokes would be rolling away with this game.  The second half was much more dramatic as New Mexico came back a much different team.  They were clicking and Cole Gautsche ran for a 49 yard touchdown.  This cut the score to 21-10.  Wyoming ended up punting on their next possession and then forced New Mexico to punt as well.  The downside is that Blair Burns fielded the punt and then fumbled which was recovered by New Mexico.  One play later the score was down to just a 21-17 lead for Wyoming.

The Cowboys answered with a 25 yard  Stuart Williams field goal; his first of the season.  At the end of three quarters Wyoming led 24-17.  New Mexico answered on their drive next to bring together a 24 all tie.

The Brett Smith show took control after that as the junior quarterback led the Pokes on a quick answer.  Smith scored on a three yard run to give the Cowboys the led.  Wyoming got the ball back after Jesse Sampson who was making his  Cowboy debut intercepted Gautsche.  Next play Smith ran 48 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 38-24.

After a few drives that ended in punt,s New Mexico went on a long drive and eventually scored to cut the lead down to 7.  They went with the onside kick and Wyoming recovered and it was time for the victory formation.

This wasn't the dominant victory that it appeared may happen.  Yet we saw the Pokes buckle down when things got tough and fight back for this win.

Wyoming outgained New Mexico on the ground 285-257.  This dropped New Mexico's per game average from 367 to 349 and cost the Lobos the top spot in rushing offense.  Smith and Wick each had two rushing touchdowns and broke the 100 yard mark.  Even though it wasn't perfect, being 4-2 is what matters and now the Pokes can continue their quest for a Mountain West championship, stay undefeated at home and go to a bowl game.