LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboys' Annual Brown and Gold game came down to the final possession of the game on Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. With the Brown Team leading by three points, 24-21, the Gold Team drove the ball 72 yards to the Brown's three-yard line on its final possession of the game. With fourth and one at the three, the Gold squad decided to go for the win rather than tie the game with a field goal, but Cameron Coffman's pass fell incomplete in the end zone, and the Brown team held on for a three-point victory.
The Brown Team, which featured the Cowboys' No. 1 defense, took an early 7-0 lead on its first possession of the game. Redshirt freshman strong safety Chavez Pownell intercepted Coffman on the fourth play of the game to give his Brown offense the ball at the Brown 32-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Josh Allen then guided the Brown team 68 yards in eight plays and capped off the drive with a nine-yard pass to junior fullback Jordan Ellis. Redshirt junior place-kicker Justin Martin successfuly converted the point-after touchdown.
On Gold's second drive of the first quarter, it went three and out, giving the ball back to the Brown team at the Brown 20-yard line after a 55-yard punt from junior punter Ethan Wood flew into the end zone for a touchback.
Allen again helped lead his team on a nine-play, 80-yard drive , culminating in a 22-yard TD pass to redshirt freshman tight end Tyree Mayfield to give Brown a 14-0 lead after Martin's PAT to end the first quarter.
On its second possession of the second quarter, the Gold Team put together a long scoring drive of its own. Facing a third and two on its own 46-yard line, Coffman connected with junior tight end Jacob Hollister on a 54-yard catch and run. Martin's extra point failed, and the first half would end with Brown leading, 14-6.
The second half began much as the first half did, with a turnover on the first possession of the half. This time it was the Gold defense that came up with the turnover as linebacker Devin McKenna forced and recovered a fumble by sophomore running back Joshua Tapscott. McKenna's forced turnover gave the Gold offense the ball at the Gold 48-yard line. Nine plays and 52 yards later, sophomore running back Brian Hill carried the ball into the end zone from one yard out. Hill also converted a two-point conversion on a rushing attempt to tie the game at 14-14. On the drive, Hill broke a 20-yard run, and accounted for 29 of the total 52 yards.
Gold's defense forced a second turnover on the first play of the very next drive. After catching a pass out of the backfield and taking it 19 yards, Tapscott was hit by safety Christian Mickey and fellow safety Isaiah Jefferson recovered at the Brown 46. Coffman connected with junior wide receiver Tanner Gentry on a 22-yard pass completion on first down and then redshirt freshman running back Nico Evans did the rest, carrying on five consecutive plays for 20 total yards, including a one-yard TD run. Martin's PAT gave Gold its first lead of the game at 21-14, and that is where the score stood entering the fourth quarter.
Tapscott, despite his two turnovers, had an excellent day rushing the ball for the Brown Team. He led all Cowboys with 166 rushing yards on 20 carries, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. It was on Brown's first drive of the fourth quarter when Tapscott would score a touchdown of his own from three yards out to tie the game at 21-21.
Gold would move the ball 31 yards on its next drive, but on a fourth and one at the Brown 44, the Brown defense held running back Hill for no gain and took over on downs. Tapscott broke a 34-yard run on first down to move the ball down to the Gold 22. He would later move the ball to the Gold 19 on a three-yard run. Martin would convert on a 36-yard field goal on fourth and seven, putting the Brown Team up for good at 24-21.
Immediately after the game, head coach Craig Bohl met with media on the field as players signed autographs for fans. Bohl began with a statement on his assessment of the game before taking questions.
"We were able to get quite a few repetitions today, and there were some bright spots," said Bohl. "I certainly thought our tight ends played well, and that is significant improvement as far as our depth at that position.
"I thought we protected the quarterback fairly well today. There were some good runs, but the ball was on the ground a little bit too much for what we would like."
Bohl next commented on the play of safety Pownell, who had the early interception for the Brown squad, before being ejected later in the first half on a targeting penalty.
"Chavez Pownell showed some great things in the first half," said Bohl. "But it was good for him to sit down in the second half after getting ejected. He's got to learn to play without leading with his helmet.
"I thought our defensive line did a fairly good job of establishing the line of scrimmage.
"And from what I understand there wasn't any major injuries. I was holding my breath seeing Nico Evans suffer a shoulder injury, but I don't think it's too serious."
After his opening comments, the first question posed to Bohl by media was to evaluate the play of his top two quarterbacks, Coffman and Allen.
"I thought for the most part Cam (Coffman) had good control of the offense," said Bohl. "We put him in a blue jersey (indicating he couldn't be hit by defenders) and held back some of the play calls for him today. He certainly has good poise, is able to get into his check downs and go through his read progressions.
"Josh (Allen) showed what he has shown all along this spring -- he has a really strong arm and he's got good mobility. He's a little bit of a gunslinger. We need to school that out of him a little bit, but we're making good progression at the quarterback position. Both of those two guys are doing a good job, but Cam certainly came out of the spring number one."
Coffman completed 14 of 20 passes (70.0 percent) for 172 yards, one touchdown and threw one interception on the first drive of the game. Allen completed 10 of 13 passes (76.9 percent) for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Coffman and Allen both threw a touchdown pass to a Cowboy tight end. Allen connected with Mayfield on a 22-yard TD pass, and Coffman hit junior Hollister on a 54-yard touchdown.
Bohl was asked to expound on the play of his tight end corps in Saturday's game.
"That is a part of our offense that we like to use extensively, and last year in the transition of the program we did not have a lot of tight ends," said Bohl. "We have three guys there now. I think (Jacob) Hollister has really shown great improvement. He made an excellent play today, and Tyree Mayfield was a heavily-recruited guy out of high school and today I thought he did some great things as well.
Bohl was also asked about the play of running back Tapscott, and he gave an overall view of the running back corps
"He (Joshua Tapscott) runs the ball well," said Bohl. "He's got a low center of gravity, and breaks a lot of tackles. Now what I did not like today was he put the ball on the ground twice. In our style of offense, we've got to control the football and turnovers can really come into play in changing a football game, so he's going to have to clean that part of his game up.
"Shaun Wick was unable to play today, but we've got a lot of different types of runners. You have Shaun, then you go into Brian (Hill), who's shown he can play in this league, and then at that third running back position we have two different style runners in Nico (Evans), who I thought continued to show promise today, and Josh (Tapscott) who is a steady, tough runner."
When asked to compare this year's Spring Game, in his second year at the helm of the Cowboy Football program, to last year's Spring Game, Bohl responded, "We look more confident. We look more like a program. There is more of a stamp of how we want to play. We're certainly not there yet, but it is another step forward."
With Saturday being the final day of 2015 spring practice, the head coach was finally asked where he felt his program was at and where it needs to go through summer conditioning and into fall camp.
"We had a great offseason, as far as our strength and conditioning," said Bohl. "We put up great numbers in the weight room. The lean muscle mass of our players changed. What we'll need to do over the course of this summer is come back in great condition as we get into double-repping in fall camp, we want to be able to push the envelope next fall in terms of our conditioning."
In addition to Tapscott's 166 rushing yards, Hill rushed for 91 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Smith rushed for 58 yards on five carries, and Evans had 45 rushing yards on 11 carries and scored one TD.
The leading receivers included: Mayfield, six catches for 65 yards and one TD; Gentry, five receptions for 62 yards; Hollister, two catches for 57 yards and one TD; and Tapscott, two receptions for 50 yards.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Waddie Love led the Gold Team with nine tackles. Redshirt freshman strong safety Marcus Epps also totalled nine tackles and one pass breakup as he split time playing for both squads. McKenna had eight tackles to go with his one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. For the Brown Team, junior linebackers Lucas Wacha and Eric Nzeocha and redshirt freshman defensive back Adam Pilapil each made six tackles.
On special teams, punter Wood averaged 48.0 yards per punt on two punts. Place-kicker Martin was 4 of 5 in PATs and 1-2 in field-goal attempts, making a 36-yard field goal that resulted in the game winner and missing from 42 yards.
The Brown Team generated 373 yards of total offense (236 rushing and 137 passing), and the Gold Team generated 359 yards (187 rushing and 172 passing). The Gold defense forced two turnovers, recovering two fumbles, and the Brown defense forced one turnover, on an interception.