Pokes come up short against Aggies, hold USU well short of their season averages

(Laramie, Wyo) -The Wyoming Cowboy defense limited a powerful Utah State offense to 194 yards of total offense and 17 offensive points on Saturday (another seven points came on special teams), while the Cowboy offense generated 331 yards of total offense itself.  But a long touchdown run to begin the game by the Aggies, a big interception by Utah State to start the second half and a 99-yard kickoff return led to 21 of Utah State’s 24 points on way to a 24-16 win for USU.  The Cowboys fell to 2-6 on the season and 0-4 in the Mountain West.  Utah State improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

Wyoming held the Aggies 285 yards under their season average of 478.7 yards of total offense and limited Utah State to 27 points below their scoring average of 51.7 points per game.  The Cowboy defense was also extremely effective on third downs, allowing Utah State to convert only 4 of 15 third downs (27 percent).  Utah State entered the game converting 47 percent of their third-down situations.

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Junior linebacker Logan Wilson led the Cowboys, with 11 tackles, one interception (that he returned for 13 yards to set up a field goal) and 1.0 tackle for loss.  It was the 10th double-figure tackle game of Wilson’s career and fourth in eight games this season.  The interception was his first of the season and fifth of his career.  Senior safeties Marcus Epps and Andrew Wingard had six tackles each.  Epps added 1.0 tackle for loss, and Wingard recorded a half TFL.  Senior nose tackle Sidney Malauula also was credited with six tackles.  The Cowboy defense as a group recorded 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack to go along with putting pressure on Utah State quarterback Jordan Love all day.  Cowboy defenders also broke up five passes to go with Wilson’s interception.

Wyoming had two 100-yard rushers on the day in senior running back Nico Evans, who rushed for 133 yards and one touchdown, and true freshman quarterback Sean Chambers, who ran for 100 yards.  Wyoming ended the day with 231 rushing yards and 100 passing yards for its 331 yards of total offense.  It was Evans fourth 100-yard rushing game in the six games he has played this season.  The last time Wyoming had two 100-yard rushers in the same game was Oct. 12, 2013, against New Mexico when then Cowboy quarterback Brett Smith ran for 138 yards and running back Shaun Wick ran for 116.

USU running back Darwin Thompson also ran for 109 yards on the day.  Utah State QB Love entered the game averaging 259.5 passing yards per game and was completing 67.2 percent of his passes, but was held to only 53 passing yards by the Cowboy defense and completed only 12 of 28 passes (42.9 percent).

“There were a couple of untimely mistakes that we made,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl.  “Our effort was really good on defense and our effort improved in the second half offensively.  Utah State’s offense is very prolific.  They were scoring 50-plus points and completing nearly 70 percent of their passes (coming into this game), so I thought our defense went out and played well today.

“We gave up the one long run, so kudos to Utah State on popping that.  Outside of that, we really hunkered down and made some plays.

“It was great to see Sean (Chambers) come in and do some excellent things.  I know there will be questions during the week especially when you change quarterbacks like that.

“Now, we have a short week to get ready for the Rams.

It marked the first loss for Wyoming in the series in three years as the Pokes won the last two meetings against the Aggies.

Next week, Wyoming will play its only Friday night game of the season.  That game will be the 110th edition of the Border War against rival Colorado State.  The game will kick off at 8 p.m., Mountain Time from Fort Collins, Colo.

TJH

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