For the 55th time and the 37th consecutive season the Wyoming Cowboy football team will face the Air Force Falcons in a game that will kick off Saturday at 1:30 p.m. from Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium. Saturday will also be Homecoming and Military Appreciation Day. Tickets are going fast for this Saturday’s game. Fans may purchase tickets by going to GoWyo.com/tickets, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 307-766-7220.
Both the Cowboys and Falcons enter this week with 1-0 records in the Mountain West Conference, and both are coming off convincing wins over archrivals last week. Wyoming captured a 38-17 road win versus Colorado State last Saturday, while Air Force defeated Navy 28-14 in Colorado Springs.
Wyoming will be looking to win its fourth consecutive home game dating back to the final game of last season, and is seeking its fifth home win in its last six home games. Air Force will be playing its second road game of 2016. The Falcons won their first road game of the year, defeating Utah State, 27-20, on Sept. 24.
The Cowboys played one of their best games of the season last week. Wyoming’s defense forced two key turnovers by Colorado State and shutout the Rams in the second half. Cowboy free safety Andrew Wingard was named Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Wingard was credited with 17 tackles of which 10 were solo tackles. He also had one sack and one tackle for loss versus CSU. Wingard’s 17 tackles were a personal best and tied him for 21st place on the Wyoming single-game tackle list. He currently leads the Mountain West in tackles and ranks No. 4 in the nation, averaging 11.8 tackles per game. He ranks No. 2 in the MW and No. 12 in the NCAA in solo tackles, averaging 6.2 solo tackles per game.
Offensively, Wyoming rushed for 269 yards led by junior Brian Hill, who had 166 of those rushing yards to become Wyoming’s all-time career rushing leader with 3,056 yards. Hill averaged an impressive 8.7 yards per carry on 19 carries versus the Rams. He had four runs of 15 or more yards, including runs of 15, 16, 39 and 49 yards. On the 39-yard run, Hill surpassed Devin Moore as Wyoming’s career rushing leader. Hill’s longest run of the day came in the third quarter on a 49-yard scamper down to the CSU one-yard line. Hill would score a TD on the very next play to give Wyoming a 31-17 lead. He gained all but two of his 166 yards in only three quarters of play. He had only two carries for two yards in the fourth quarter before sitting out the rest of the game. Hill ranks No. 6 in the nation in total rushing yards (629) and ranks No. 7 in rushing touchdowns (7).
Senior Shaun Wick had his best game of the season, rushing for 54 yards and one touchdown in the win over CSU. Wick’s 54 yards moved him into sixth place on UW’s career rushing list. Wick has rushed for 2,292 career yards. He moved past former Cowboy great Gerald Abraham for sixth place. Cowboy quarterback Josh Allen contributed 55 yards rushing and scored the Pokes third rushing TD of the game. Allen also connected with wide receiver Tanner Gentry on a 30-yard touchdown strike. Gentry had three catches for 91 yards against the Rams, and enters this week needing only 59 receiving yards and 12 receptions to break into Wyoming’s Top 10 lists for career receiving yards and career receptions.
Gentry leads the Mountain West in both total receiving yards (479) and receptions per game (6.40). He ranks 17th in the nation in total receiving yards and 18th in receptions per game.
Only five games into the 2016 season, the Wyoming defense has forced 10 opponent turnovers -- seven by interception and three by fumble recovery. That is as many turnovers as the Cowboys generated the entire 2015 season when they intercepted five passes and recovered five fumbles the entire season. The Cowboys currently are tied for No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 19 nationally in most turnovers gained (10).
With three interception returns for touchdowns in Wyoming’s last two games, the Cowboy defense has shown a talent for scoring points early in the 2016 season. Sophomore strong safety Marcus Epps and redshirt freshman linebacker Logan Wilson returned interceptions for touchdowns of 66 and 27 yards, respectively against Eastern Michigan. Senior nose tackle Chase Appleby also had a “Pick Six” of 55 yards against Colorado State.
You couldn’t have drawn up a more memorable play for a senior than the play Appleby made versus Colorado State. Wyoming’s senior nose tackle from Frisco, Texas, playing against his archrival for the final time intercepted a pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to give Wyoming a 24-14 lead on way to a 38-17 road win.
Another senior, punter @Ethan Wood, also had a very special night against rival Colorado State. The native of Colorado Springs, Colo., punted six times for a 44.5-yard average and placed four punts inside the Colorado State 20-yard line, including two punts downed on the CSU one-yard line. He had a fifth punt of 48 yards that was downed at the CSU 25. His punting played a critical role in Wyoming’s 38-17 win by making CSU start at an average yard line of its own 15-yard line following his six punts. Wood helped the Cowboys average a remarkable 44.7 yards in net punting on the day, as the Rams returned only one punt for a minus one yard. He had punts of 45, 38, 47, 48, 49 and 40 yards. The 47 and 49-yard punts were the ones downed at Colorado State’s own one-yard line.
Air Force shutout the Midshipmen for the first three quarters, building a 17-0 lead on way to a 28-14 home victory. The Falcons held Navy to only 57 rushing yards. Air Force gained 173 rushing yards and 257 passing yards. The leading recipient of those 257 passing yards was senior wide receiver Jalen Robinette, who caught five passes for 163 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown reception. Falcon strong safety Weston Steelhammer intercepted two Navy passes.
Falcon senior punter Steve Brosy was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week following Air Force’s win over Navy. Brosy averaged a career best 45.4-yard average versus the midshipmen. He placed all five punts inside Navy’s 20-yard line at the 11, 13, 4, 10 and 14-yard lines. He also had a career long 58-yard punt and recorded the second longest punt of his career, with two punts of 48 yards.
This weekend will mark the 92nd Homecoming Game at Wyoming. The Cowboys have won 44 Homecoming games, lost 44 and tied 3. Since the opening of War Memorial Stadium in 1950, Wyoming has posted a Homecoming record of 39-25-2 (.606) in 66 games played in War Memorial.
Former Cowboy head football coach and athletics director Paul Roach and his wife Marge have been chosen as Grand Marshals for this year’s Homecoming Parade to be held Saturday morning. Saturday will also be Military Appreciation Day at Wyoming.
Saturday’s game will be televised on ROOT SPORTS and will be broadcast on radio on the Cowboy Sports Network, with the radio pregame show beginning at 12:30 p.m.