Wyoming Quarterback Brett Smith threw for three touchdowns and 383 yards in the season opener at Lincoln, Nebraska. (UW)
Smith and Rufran have effective days, but UW falls short in season opener
LINCOLN, Neb. (Aug. 31, 2013) The University of Wyoming football team scored a touchdown to draw within three points with just 1:32to go in the contest, but couldn’t overcome a big second-half by Nebraska as UW fell 37-34 on Saturday.
In the season opener for both teams, junior quarterback Brett Smith threw for four scores and 383 yards, and gave Wyoming (0-1) a chance with less than two minutes to get into field-goal range for the tie. But his pass with 11 seconds left fell incomplete, and 18th-ranked Nebraska (1-0) escaped with a win in its home opener in front of a crowd of 91,185 in Memorial Stadium.
Senior safety Marqueston Huff gave UW an offensive possession when he stripped NU quarterback Taylor Martinez of the ball on a fourth-down rushing attempt, and recovered the ball on the UW 38 with 2:01 remaining in the game. Smith took over from there, finding senior wide receiver Robert Herron for a 47-yard TD to make it 37-34. The UW defense then held NU on its next drive to force a punt, and the Cowboys took over possession at their 6-yard line with 1:07 left but couldn’t drive into scoring range.
Junior wide receiver Dominic Rufran had a productive day for Wyoming with 11 catches for 120 yards, both career highs. The man throwing to him had an outstanding day, as Smith moved into third place on UW’s all-time career TD pass list. He now has 51 for his career in just 24 games. With 475 total yards, Smith also moved into fourth place on the career offense list with 6,892 yards in just 24 games. Smith’s 475 yards were the fourth-highest individual total against NU in program history. Defensively, Huff had 18 tackles (No. 10 in UW all-time single-game history), while sophomore defensive end Eddie Yarbrough had 13 stops.
The Cowboy offense outgained NU (602-530), but managed to go just 1-of-8 on third downs and turned the ball over twice. The 602 yards was the eight-highest total against Nebraska in Husker history.
NU added a 1-yard TD rush later in the quarter to take a 17-14 halftime lead. Then, in the third quarter, Nebraska took just 1 minute, 32 seconds to go 65 yards for another TD run to lead 24-14 with 13:22 to go in the third quarter. The Huskers scored again to make it 31-14 with four minutes to go in the quarter, but Wyoming wouldn’t give up. Senior running back Brandon Miller scored from 22 yards out with a swing pass with 2:04 left in the third quarter, using a hard-running style to bowl over a Nebraska defender to fall in the endzone. That score made it 31-21 Nebraska.
Smith started the scoring when he found junior wide receiver Jalen Claiborne for a 6-yard TD pass to give Wyoming the 7-0 lead with 8:48to go in the first quarter. The Huskers got on the board with five minutes to go in the first quarter with a 24-yard field goal, and UW held a 7-3 lead. On NU’s next drive, the Huskers tacked on a 17-yard TD pass to take their first lead of the game at 10-7 with 1:20 to go in the quarter.
Smith put the Cowboys in scoring position again in the second quarter with a 47-yard gallop to the Nebraska 29. Three plays later, sophomore running back Shaun Wick plowed his way into the endzone from 6 yards out to give UW the 14-10 lead with 11:38 to go in the first half.
UW returns to the field with their home opener Saturday versus Idaho. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium.