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Cowboy offense erupts in 44-17 win at Utah State

The University of Wyoming had big reason to celebrate last night as it blew out nemesis Utah State to become bowl eligible. (Photo courtesy of University of Wyoming athletics)

By Nick Seeman, University of Wyoming athletics

The University of Wyoming football team’s offense erupted for 604 yards of offense, which saw balance on the ground and through the air in a 44-17 win over Utah State in Maverik Stadium in Logan, Utah on Saturday. The Pokes are now Bowl Eligible for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The 604 yards of offense was the most in a game since 694 yards against Fresno State on Nov. 1, 2014.

“I thought it was our most complete game of the year,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said. “We played well in all three phases with explosive plays on offense and on defense we stopped the run and challenged their receivers. We did some effective things on special teams, and this was a big win for us.” This is what we wanted, and we hit our stride. This was an important game and we hit a good rhythm tonight.”

The Cowboys retained the Bridger’s Rifle Trophy for the third time in the eight meetings since the trophy was introduced.

The Pokes rushed for 362 yards and passed for 242 yards. The Cowboy defense held the aggies to 362yards and only 178 yards passing. Utah State averaged 468 yards of offense per game on the season and 315 yards passing. The Pokes held the Aggies scoreless in the second half, Wyoming also shut out New Mexico in second half earlier this season.

“We thought we were going to have some good matchups along the offensive line and we were pleased with their effort,” Bohl said.  “Our defense leveraged our corners tonight and we had great play in the deep middle tonight.”
Wyoming’s offense was paced by running backs Titus Swen and Xazavian Valladay as they both rushed for over 100 yards for the second time in three weeks the Pokes have had two 100 yards rushers in the same game. Swen rushed for 169 yards including a 98-yard touchdown run, which was a school record. Valladay ran for 145 for his 14th career 100-yard game.

Quarterback Levi Williams completed 12-of-15 passes for a season-high 242 yards. He also added two touchdown scores. Wide receiver Isaiah Neyor recorded four grabs for 125 yards and one touchdown. Fellow wide receiver Josh Cobbs recorded a career-high six catches for 76 yards with his first career touchdown.

The Wyoming defense was paced by linebacker Chad Muma with 17 tackles coming one shy of his career-high of 18. It was a season-high for the All-American candidate. Cornerback C.J. Coldon added seven tackles with six from Cole Godbout, as the defensive tackle also added a career-high three pass breakups. Safety Issac White recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter.

After neither team could muster a score on their first crack on offense, the Cowboys scored first on a 40-yard touchdown strike from Williams to Neyor at the 7:47 mark of the first quarter. The drive went six-plays and 64-yards after the Poke defense shut down the Aggies on fourth down. Wide receiver Josh Cobbs recorded two catches for 25 yards on the drive including a 11-yard catch on third down.

The Aggies answered right back with a 11-play, 75-yard drive over 4:09 to tie the contest with 3:38 remaining in the first frame. Logan Bonner found Brandon Bowling for 10-yards for the score. A 22-yard rush from Calvin Tyler Jr. highlighted the drive for the Aggies.

But the tie would not last long as Cameron Stone returned the kickoff 99-yards for the touchdown for the first of his career to give Wyoming the 14-7 lead. It was the first kick return for a touchdown since Tyler Hall did so against Texas State (95-yards) on Sept. 30, 2017. It was the second longest return in school history.

Utah State responded this time it took three plays and 65-yards. Bonner found Devin Thompkins for 41-yards to tie the contest at 14-14 with 2:39 left in the opening Stanza.

Wyoming took a 21-14 lead with 6:50 left in the first half on a 17-yard pass from Williams to Cobbs. It was his first career touchdown. The drive was set up by 27 rushing yards from Titus Swen. Wyoming also executed a quarterback sneak on fourth down the play prior to the score.

The Cowboys forced a three-and-out after the score and tacked on a field goal by John Hoyland to take a 24-14 lead with 1:48 left in the first half. Wyoming went eight plays and went 73 yards for the score. The Aggies added a field goal, as Wyoming took a 24-17 lead into the half.

The Aggies used a 34-yard rush from Tyler, but would later miss snap the ball on a field goal and give the Pokes the ball on the their own 44-yard line. The Pokes wasted little time adding a score, as after a 13-yard rush from Valladay, his fellow back Swen busted a 43-yard rush for a score to give Wyoming a 31-17 lead with 11:56 left in the third quarter.

The Cowboys would make it a 34-17 with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter on Hoyland’s second field goal of the game. Neyor hauled in a 34-yard pass and Valladay added a 33-yard rush to set up the score.

The Pokes would take 41-17 lead on a 98-yard touchdown from Swen in the closing minutes of the third quarter. The longest rush in school history gave Swen 170 yards for the game and gave the Pokes two 100-yard rushers for the second time this season, as Swen and Williams did so against Colorado State.

Wyoming would add a field goal and Hoyland’s fourth field goal of the game for a 44-17 lead in the fourth quarter, as the Pokes would cruise to the 44-17 win.

The Aggies were led by Tyler Jr., as he rushed for 109 yards in the game. Quarterback Logan Bonner threw for 181 yards and two scores. He was averaging 275 yards passing per game on the season.

Wyoming returns to action next Saturday hosting Hawai’i at 1 p.m. MT inside War Memorial Stadium.

•With a win, Wyoming became bowl eligible for the fifth time in six seasons.
•For the first time since the third game of the season vs. Ball State, Wyoming scored first in a game when
quarterback Levi Williams found wide receiver Isaiah Neyor down the middle for a 40-yard touchdown pass to
take a 7-0 lead with 7:47 left in the first quarter.
•With its 44 points against Utah State, Wyoming scored its most points in a conference game this season. The
previous high was 31 points in a 31-17 Wyoming win over Colorado State.
•Titus Swen set a new personal career best with 169 rushing yards. His previous high was 166 yards vs. Colorado
State on Nov. 6, 2021. It marked Swen’s third 100-yard rushing game of his career and third of the 2021 season.
•Swen’s 98-yard TD run was the longest in school history. The previous long run by a Cowboy was Nate Scott,
who broke a 95-yard run versus Central Michigan in 2000.
•Xazavian Valladay recorded his 14th career 100-yard rushing game of his career and fourth of the 2021 season
with 145 rushing yards vs. Utah State.
•It marked the second time this season that Wyoming had two players rush for over 100 yards in a single game.
Against Colorado State earlier this season, Swen rushed for 166 and quarterback Levi Williams rushed for 116.
•Levi Williams completed 12 of 15 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
•Isaiah Neyor caught his 10th touchdown pass of the season on his 40-yard TD reception in the first quarter.
•Joshua Cobbs caught his first career touchdown reception on a 17-yard pass from Levi Williams with 6:50
remaining in the second quarter.
•Cobbs 6 receptions was a career high for him and his 76 yards receiving was also a career high.
•For the first time this season, Wyoming had two different wide receivers each catch a touchdown pass in the
same game – Isaiah Neyor and Joshua Cobbs.
•The Cowboy defense held Utah State to its second lowest point total of the season. Only Boise State, who held USU to 3 points held the Aggies to fewer points.
•Chad Muma ended the game with 17 tackles, recording his 10th double-figure tackle game in 11 games this
•Muma’s 16 tackles was a season high for him. His career high is 18 tackles set in 2020 against Colorado State.
•Safety Issac White recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter.
•Sophomore kick returner Cameron Stone scored his first kickoff return for a touchdown when he returned a
kick 99 yards for a touchdown with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter.
•Stone’s 99-yard kickoff return for a TD was the first time the Cowboys had returned a kickoff for a return since
Tyler Hall returned one for 95 yards against Texas State on Sept. 30, 2017.
•Stone’s kick return for a TD was the second longest in school history – second only to a 100-yard return by Sonny Hill against Colorado College on 1948.