Wyoming Opens With Difficult 24-13 Loss to North Dakota

Sept. 5, 2015

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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The Wyoming Cowboys suffered a difficult 24-13 loss at the hands of the University of North Dakota on Saturday in the 2015 season opener for both teams. Wyoming was hampered by 96 yards in penalties, while North Dakota accumulated 429 yards in total offense, including 276 rushing yards. Wyoming ended the day with 330 yards in total offense, 289 of those coming through the air.

The Cowboys fell behind 7-0 at the end of the first quarter on a 52-yard run by North Dakota running back John Santiago. On the first play of the second quarter UND extended its lead to 14-0 when UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud took off on a 44-yard TD scamper.

Wyoming ended the first half with five penalties for 60 yards, and the Cowboy offense struggled to find a rhythm, with 141 yards of total offense -- only 34 of those yards coming on the ground.

Neither team was able to score in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter began with UND driving the ball 80 yards in eight plays ending with a one-yard TD run by Santiago to put North Dakota up 21-0.

The Cowboys excited the War Memorial Stadium crowd on its first possession of the fourth quarter when redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman hit junior wide receiver Tanner Gentry on a 92-yard touchdown pass for the Cowboys first score of the game. It was the second longest pass in UW school history -- second only to a 93-yard TD strike in 2013 from Brett Smith to Robert Herron versus San Jose State. True freshman place-kicker Tristan Bailey missed on the first extra-point attempt of his career and the score was 21-6 North Dakota.

UND responded with a 10-play, 47-yard drive on its next possession that concluded with a 45-yard field goal by Reid Taubenheim to give North Dakota a 24-6 lead with 7:10 remaining in the game.

The Cowboy offense picked up where it left off on its next possession. Junior linebacker D.J. May put the Cowboys in great field position, returning the kickoff from the goal line out to the UW 47-yard line. Coffman proceeded to complete 4 of 6 passes on the ensuing drive for 51 yards, capping off the 53-yard drive with a 12-yard TD strike to redshirt freshman tight end Tyree Mayfield. Bailey converted the PAT, and the score stood at 24-13 with 5:44 remaining in the game.

After each team exchanged three and out series, North Dakota ran down the clock to nine seconds on its last drive, turning the ball back to Wyoming on downs at the UW 37-yard line. Cowboy sophomore quarterback Josh Allen came into the game in relief of Coffman and completed a 14-yard pass to Gentry, who lateraled the ball to fellow wide receiver Jake Maulhardt for an additonal five yards on the final play of the game.

After the game, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl shared his team's disappointment with the media, while giving North Dakota credit for their performance.

"I thought North Dakota did some effective things in the first half with sets and motions, plus we had a hard time getting off the field on third down," said Bohl.

"We got out leveraged and we allowed too many big plays to break into the secondary. I understand you may have a play break on some level but you can't allow that many.

"It was a tough loss and we need to take a measured view of it. There's not just one game -- it is a long season ahead, but it was a disappointing loss. As coaches and players, we need to come back tomorrow and take an aggressive approach on improving with our lack of performance today."

Gentry was a bright spot for the Cowboys catching nine passes for 176 yards, including his 92-yard TD reception. It was Gentry's first 100-yard receiving game of his career. Coffman ended the day completing 19 of 37 pass attempts (51.4 percent) for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

North Dakota was led by freshman running back Santiago, who ended the day with 148 rushing yards on 24 carries for an average of 6.2 yards per carry and two TDs. UND quarterback Studsrud threw for 153 yards and rushed for 59 yards to end his day with 212 yards of total offense.

Wyoming was led in tackles by its two starting safeties, who both played in their first games as Cowboys. Redshirt freshman strong safety Chavez Pownell Jr. led the Cowboys with 16 tackles, while fellow redshirt freshman free safety Marcus Epps was credited with 11 tackles.

Wyoming returns to action next Saturday when they will host Eastern Michigan in War Memorial Stadium in a game kicking off at 2 p.m.