Wyoming senior strong safety Andrew Wingard and redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal were named the Mountain West Defensive and Offensive Players of the Week, respectively, by the Mountain West Conference on Monday. It is the fourth MW Defensive Player of the Week award for Wingard, who was previously honored by the conference once in 2016 and twice in 2017. This is Vander Waal’s first Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honor.
Wingard, a senior from Arvada, Colo., helped seal Wyoming’s 35-27 come-from-behind victory with an interception on the final Air Force possession of the game. He led the Cowboys with 13 tackles against Air Force, recording the 23rd double-figure tackle game of his career. His 13 tackles vs. Air Force marked his fourth double-figure tackle game of the season. He was also the team leader in solo tackles (6) and assisted tackles (7) against Air Force.
With the Cowboys trailing 27-21 to Air Force late in the fourth quarter, Wingard made a key stop holding an Air Force runner to only two yards on a second down and 10 from the Air Force 25. That led to Wyoming holding the Falcons to a three-and-out on the next play. Wyoming took the possession following that defensive stand and turned it into a game-winning scoring drive.
Wingard’s 13 tackles vs. Air Force moved him into the Top 25 of the NCAA career tackle list, with 449, to rank No. 22 in NCAA history. His 13 tackles moved him into 2nd place on the Wyoming career tackle chart.
Tyler Vander Waal
Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week
In the final five minutes of the game, Vander Waal, a redshirt freshman from Elk Grove, Calif., led Wyoming on three touchdown drives for one of the greatest comebacks in Wyoming history. Wyoming trailed Air Force 27-14 with 8:44 remaining in the game, before the Cowboys scored 21 unanswered points from the 4:32 mark of the fourth quarter to the end of the game.
Vander Waal ended the day with 225 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 22 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 247 yards of total offense and 4 TDs responsible for. He completed 14 of 26 pass attempts (53.8 percent) on the day, with no interceptions.
Of those final three touchdowns, Vander Waal scored two of them on a five-yard TD run and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass. He completed four big passes of 11, 16, 12 and 16 yards during a 13-play, 76-yard drive to pull Wyoming to within a touchdown at 27-21 with 4:32 remaining in the game. He converted a 4th and 9 into a 12-yard pass completion during a 9-play, 58-yard drive to give the Cowboys a 28-27 lead with 1:09 left in the game.
Vander Waal came off the bench in the first quarter to replace an injured Sean Chambers at quarterback. On Vander Waal’s first play of the game, he threw an 11-yard TD pass to give Wyoming a 7-0 lead. He also had a three-yard TD run in the first quarter to give Wyoming a 14-7 lead. Vander Waal generated 11 explosive pass plays of 10 yards or more, including plays of: 11 yards, 60, 15, 16, 15, 11, 16, 12, 16, 12 and 22. He accounted for a career-high 225 passing yards, a career-best 247 yards of total offense and was responsible for a career-high four touchdowns — two rushing and two passing.
The Cowboys will wrap-up their regular season this coming Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M., versus the New Mexico Lobos. That game is scheduled to kick off at 12:30 p.m.