Wyoming football hits the road for the first time Saturday at Northern Illinois

GoWyo.com

(Laramie, WY) – Both the Wyoming Cowboys and Northern Illinois Huskies are coming off thrilling victories in their 2021 season openers last week.  Wyoming defeated Montana State, 19-16, in Laramie.  The Cowboys winning touchdown came on an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive with only 47 seconds remaining in the game.  NIU captured an exciting road win at Georgia Tech by a score of 22-21.  The Huskies won the game on an 80-yard touchdown drive that took nine plays, capped off by a two-point conversion to win the game.
 
Wyoming scored 16 of its 19 points in the fourth quarter against Montana State, with scoring drives of 52, 67 and 75 yards.  The Cowboys’ winning touchdown was a 21-yard pass from quarterback Sean Chambers to tight end Treyton Welch down the middle of the field.  Welch made a spectacular one-handed catch with a Montana State defender right on top of him.
 
Northern Illinois wide receiver Tyrice Richie made a diving catch of a two-point conversion with 38 seconds to play to give the Huskies their 22-21 win over Georgia Tech Saturday night in Atlanta.  The two-point conversion came after a three-yard touchdown pass from Michigan State transfer quarterback Rocky Lombardi to NIU running back Clint Ratkovich.
 
Two Wyoming Players Earn Mountain West Player of the Week Honors
The Mountain West Conference announced its Players of the Week on Monday and Wyoming had two players selected for their performances in UW’s season-opening victory over Montana State.  Linebacker Chad Muma was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week and punter Ralph Fawaz was selected the Mountain West’s Freshman of the Week.
     
Muma, from Lone Tree, Colo., led Wyoming with 11 total tackles against Montana State, including nine solo tackles, one fumble recovery, one blocked field goal, 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack.
     
In total, Muma made three key plays that halted potential Montana State scoring drives, and he was the leader of a Cowboy defense that held the Bobcats to only 16 points.
     
In his first college game, Wyoming freshman punter Fawaz from Cache, Okla., put on quite a show for the Cowboys.  He helped shift field position throughout Wyoming’s game vs. Montana State, averaging 45.7 yards per punt on six punts.  He also placed five of his six punts inside the Montana State 20-yard line.
     
All total, Fawaz had five punts of 43 yards or more, including two of over 50 yards (43, 54, 53, 44, 47).  His sixth punt was a pooch kick that was downed by Wyoming at the MSU 1-yard line.
     
Three Northern Illinois Players Honored as MAC West Division Players of the Week
Northern Illinois players swept all three Mid-American Conference Player of the Week honors this week.  Senior linebacker Lance Deveaux Jr. and senior punter Matt Ference claimed Defensive and Special Teams Player of the Week honors, respectively, while freshman running back Harrison Waylee was honored as the MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week. 
 
Deveaux Jr. made a career high 12 tackles with eight solo stops to lead an outstanding defensive effort by NIU in its win over Georgia Tech.
 
Ference punted seven times on Saturday for a 41.0-yard average, with two punts downed inside the 10, including at the three- and seven- yard lines.
 
Waylee was key for the success of NIU’s offense, with a career best 144 yards on 27 carries.
 
Seven Wyoming Cowboys Hail From the State of Illinois
There are seven players on the Wyoming roster who hail from the state of Illinois, including starters:  Xazavian Valladay at running back, Keyon Blankenbaker at nickel back, C.J. Coldon at cornerback and Jaylen Pate at defensive end.
 
A Memorable First Meeting in 2016 Was a Triple Overtime Classic
The Wyoming Cowboys and Northern Illinois Huskies will meet for only the second time in history when they face off this Saturday in DeKalb, Ill.  The first meeting between the two teams on Sept. 3, 2016, was a classic that resulted in a 40-34 triple overtime thriller.
 
That initial 2016 meeting was the coming out party for Wyoming sophomore quarterback Josh Allen who scored the winning touchdown on an amazing scramble in the third overtime.
     
In that first meeting, kickoff was set for 8:37 p.m., M.T. in Laramie, but thunderstorms forced a one hour and 43-minute delay prior to the opening kickoff.  The kickoff was delayed until 10:20 p.m., which made it the latest kickoff in Wyoming Football history.  The game ended at 2:34 a.m. Sunday morning, making it the latest finish to a game in Cowboy history.  The game was the longest in school history at 4 hours and 14 minutes.  It eclipsed a 53-45 triple overtime Wyoming victory over UNLV on Nov. 6, 2004, in Las Vegas.  That 2004 win lasted 4 hours and three minutes.
     
It was also memorable in that it was the first of many electrifying performances by sophomore quarterback Allen.  In the third overtime the Cowboy defense held the Huskies on their final series of the contest. During the Cowboys’ final possession on a third and four from the seven-yard line, Allen scrambled out of the pocket to his right then swung all the way back to the left side of the field and after avoiding several defenders dove into the end zone for the winning touchdown giving the Pokes’ a 40-34 victory. Allen ended the night with 315 yards of total offense, two touchdown passes and his game-winning rushing TD.
 
Wyoming is 8-4 Against Teams from the Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Northern Illinois is a member of the Mid-American Conference.  Since 1996 when the Wyoming Cowboys first played a Mid-American Conference team in Western Michigan, the Cowboys are 8-4 all-time against current teams from the MAC.  UW is 4-3 against MAC foes in Laramie, 3-1 on the road and 1-0 at neutral sites.  That neutral-site meeting was the most recent against a MAC opponent.  It came in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl where the Pokes defeated Central Michigan by a score of 37-14.
 
Saturday Will be the First of Two Consecutive Games Against MAC Opponents
Northern Illinois will be the first of two Mid-American Conference opponents for the Wyoming Cowboys.  After facing NIU on the road this Saturday, Wyoming will return home to host Ball State on Saturday, Sept.  18.  Ball State is the defending Mid-American Conference Champion.
 
Where to Watch and Listen
For fans who are unable to attend Saturday’s game there are several ways to watch and listen.
 
Radio Broadcast Information for the Cowboy Sports Network (CSN):
Every Cowboy Football game is broadcast live on the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network
      •Announcers are Dave Walsh, Play-by-Play (38th year), Kevin McKinney, Color Analyst (24th year) and
        Reece Monaco, Sideline Reporter (11th year)
      •The pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
 
Television Broadcast Information for Wyoming Northern Illinois Game:
Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN+.  Announcers will be Thomas Davis (Play-by-play), Anthony Lima (Color Analyst) and TJ McGinnis (Sideline Analyst).

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