Nov. 19, 2011
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The Wyoming Cowboy football team won its seventh game of the season in impressive fashion Saturday, beating New Mexico 31-10 on a crisp afternoon in War Memorial Stadium.
It was Senior Day for 13 players, and several of those Cowboy seniors made it a memorable day.
Freshman quarterback Brett Smith was the spark the Pokes (7-3 overall, 4-1 in Mountain West) needed to earn the victory. Smith went 23-for-38 for 212 yards and a touchdown pass, while rushing 12 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
UNLV (1-10 overall, 1-5 MW) was led by junior quarterback B.R. Holbrook, who was 18-for-28 for 162 yards and one rushing touchdown.
The win sent the UW seniors out on a good note and also qualified the Cowboys for postseason play.
"Since the day I got here, our goal was to have an opportunity to play in the postseason."Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. "(And) of all the things we're playing for, we want those guys (seniors) who have been so dedicated since they got here to go out as winners in their last game in this stadium."
Junior running back Alvester Alexander also was a force running the football, tallying a season-high 93 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Alexander was a key cog in a Wyoming running game that totaled 250 yards, the second-highest mark this season. Receiver Mazi Ogbonna had a special Senior Day, as he caught six balls for 78 yards. His sophomore counterpart Brandon Miller also had six catches for 77 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Cowboys got a stellar effort from senior safety Tashaun Gipson, who made 10 stops and picked off one pass. Gipson's pick moved him to No. 8 all-time on UW's career interceptions list with eight, tied with Jacque Finn (2000-03).
"We played for four quarters, dominated the fourth quarter, and found a way to win the game. I'm very proud of these kids and their performance today," Christensen said. "Particularly in the second half, defensively, we really shut them down."
Wyoming lit the scoreboard up in the first quarter when Smith and the Cowboys drove 26 yards in three plays, as Miller capped off the drive off with a 26-yard TD reception to make it 7-0 Cowboys with 6:07 left in the first.
New Mexico answered with two scoring drives in the second quarter, a 29-yard field goal from James Aho and a B.R. Holbrook 5-yard TD run to make it 10-7 Lobos with 1:41 left in the second quarter. It would prove to be the last as the Cowboy defense stiffened and didn't allow another score.
The Pokes showed their prowess in the two-minute drill after the Lobo drives, as Alexander scored a 3-yard touchdown after going 74 yards on nine plays just before halftime. Wyoming took a 14-10 lead into the locker room.
Freshman placekicker Daniel Sullivan tacked on three more points with a 34-yard field goal at the 10:09 mark of the third quarter, pushing Wyoming's lead to 17-10.
After putting up some impressive passing numbers, Smith showed off his running skills in the second half. Smith scored on a 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 24-10, but really showed off his speed later in the game.
The freshman signal-caller faked a handoff on his own 31-yard line, and took off through a seam created by his blockers. He raced through the secondary untouched for a 69-yard scamper to push the lead to 31-10 with 6:29 remaining.
"He just amazes me every time he plays," Christensen said of Smith's performance. "He's such a humble young man and great competitor. I can't wait to get him on a timer (for the 40-yard dash). He outran their secondary."
Wyoming will hit the road for its next game, traveling to Idaho on Saturday to take on the Boise State Broncos. Kickoff is set for noon MT and will be televised by The Mtn.