Wyoming Drops A Heartbreaker To Nevada, 35-28

Oct. 6, 2012

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RENO, Nev. -

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On a wild Saturday night in Reno, the Wyoming Cowboy football team came up just short in overtime to Nevada, 35-28.

In a game where Wyoming (1-4 overall, 0-1 in Mountain West action) featured three quarterbacks and four running backs, UW accounted for 350 yards of offense, but couldn't slow a high-powered Nevada (5-1 overall, 2-0 MW) attack that rolled up 565 yards. Wolf Pack quarterback Devin Combs tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass on the second play of overtime, and Nevada forced three straight incompletions from Wyoming reserve QB Jason Thompson to end the conference opener for UW.

It was UW's second-straight overtime game this season, as Wyoming and Idaho went to an extra period in a 40-37 Cowboy win on Sept. 22.

"We were in position to win it, and we didn't get it done in the end," Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen said.

UW sophomore quarterback Brett Smith went 21-for-34 for 197 yards and three touchdowns, and junior wide receiver Robert Herron had four catches for 27 yards and two scores. Smith added a score on the ground to account for four TDs.

Defensively, senior linebacker Ghaali Muhammad had a career-high 15 stops, a sack and a fumble recovery and sophomore cornerback Darrenn White had six stops and his first career interception.

Wyoming struck first as Smith hit Herron with a 16-yard strike with 5:34 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. But Nevada tied it up shortly thereafter as they scored on a three-yard plunge on a fourth-down play. It was 7-7 with 1:12 left in the first period.

After a great 49-yard kickoff return by freshman running back D.J. May, UW took possession at the 50-yard line. But Smith's ensuing pass was intercepted at the Nevada 7, and the Wolf Pack took possession. They marched 93 yards in 4:04 to take a 14-7 lead after Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo hit tight end Zach Sudfeld for a 13-yard TD with 11:53 to go in the half.

Wyoming's next possession ended as Smith fumbled on the UW 47 and the Pack recovered. Six plays later, Fajardo found Kendall Brock in the endzone for the score and Nevada increased the lead to 21-7 with 9:50 to go in the second quarter.

After a punt by Wyoming, the Pack looked poised to drive it down again, but sophomore cornerback Darrenn White picked off a Fajardo pass and returned it 24 yards to the UW 49. Smith led the Pokes on an 11-play, 51-yard TD drive and hit Herron for his second TD of the day in the corner of the endzone to make it 21-14 Nevada. That would prove to be the end of the scoring for the first half.

Nevada went on a nice drive to begin the third quarter, but the UW defense stiffened on its own end, and Nevada's 30-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the upright. The score stayed 21-14 Nevada with 11:17 to go in the third. UW took advantage as Smith led the Pokes on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 42-yard TD strike to sophomore wide receiver Jalen Claiborne. That score made it 21-all with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter.

The Cowboys forced a punt on Nevada's next possession and Smith masterfully guided Wyoming on an 82-yard drive. The signal-caller capped it off with an 8-yard run, untouched, into the endzone. That made it 28-21 Wyoming with 13:07 to go.

Nevada's next series was stopped by Muhammad, when he stopped Jefferson for no gain on third down. On UW's next drive, Smith was flagged for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and was ejected from the game with 8:16 to go.

The Wolf Pack then drove to the Wyoming 6, but freshman linebacker Siaosi Hala`api`api forced a fumble and senior defensive tackle Mike Purcell recovered it to stop the scoring threat. Hala`api`api had perhaps the best game of his young career and again, he stopped Nevada reserve QB Devin Combs on a scramble on fourth down at the Wyoming 5 with less than three minutes to go.

After a UW punt, Combs hit wideout Richy Turner on a 44-yard TD pass with just 1:18 to go to tie things up at 28, and the game headed to overtime. Combs scored on the second play of OT, finding Aaron Bradley from 23 yards out to take the 35-28 lead. That would prove to be the final margin as Nevada stopped UW on four-straight plays.

Wyoming will host Air Force (2-3 overall, 1-1 MW) on Saturday in Laramie, Wyo. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. MT.