Pokes Fall in Season Finale to San Diego State, 42-28
Nov. 24, 2012
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith led the University of Wyoming football team to a 28-21 halftime lead over San Diego State, but the Aztecs scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to earn a 42-28 win over the Cowboys on Saturday afternoon in War Memorial Stadium. UW (4-8, 3-5 Mountain West) had its three-game winning streak snapped, while SDSU (9-4, 7-1 MW) earned its seventh consecutive victory and a share of the MW regular-season title.
On a day when UW honored its 14 seniors, Smith moved into fifth on UW's career total offense chart with 295 yards in the game, while also posting two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. He went 19-of-35 through the air for 260 yards and added 35 on the ground to raise his career total to 6,417. Junior wide receiver Herron snagged 10 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns for his second 100-yard game of the season and third of his career. Freshman running back D.J. May rushed 15 times for 87 yards.
Wyoming tallied 382 total yards, including 122 on the ground and 260 through the air, but surrendered 564 yards on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboy defense did force three turnovers on the day.
The road team has won last four in the Wyoming-SDSU series.
It was a back-and-forth first half that featured ties at at 7, 14 and 21, but Wyoming scored on the final play to go into halftime up 28-21. The squads exchanged fumbles on the second and third play from scrimmage, before SDSU settled the pace down with a 10-play, 76-yard drive on the ground to go up 7-0 with 5:55 left in the first quarter.
Smith responded by leading the Pokes on a seven-play, 75-yard drive to knot the score at 7-7 thanks to a 28-yard touchdown scamper up the middle on a fourth-and-one play. Freshman linebacker Siaosi Hala`api`api forced an Aztec fumble on the ensuing SDSU drive that senior linebacker Ghaali Muhammad recovered and UW converted into another seven points. Smith punched the ball in from one yard out for his second rushing touchdown of the day and put Wyoming up 14-7 three minutes into the second quarter.
San Diego State crafted an 11-play drive over 75 yards to tie the game again, as the SDSU quarterback tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter. Smith went to the air on the ensuing UW drive for a 70-yard strike to Herron that pushed UW back in front 21-14 just 30 seconds later. Smith moved into fifth on UW's all-time total offense chart on the play, as he passed Joe Hughes (1992-93) with 6,249 yards.
The Aztecs once again put together an extended drive, as SDSU went on an 11-play, 75-yard drive in five minutes to tie the score at 21-21 with 1:28 left in the half. The Pokes responded with another quick strike, though, to end the half with a flurry. Smith hit Herron for a 42-yard touchdown pass with no time left in the half, as Herron outsprinted several SDSU defenders to the endzone and put UW up 28-21 at halftime.
Smith had 168 passing yards and 36 rushing yards in the first half, including two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns, while May added 66 yards on the ground. Herron had six catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Hala`api`api and junior cornerback Marqueston Huff made seven stops each. The two teams punted just once each in the first half and were a combined 5-of-5 on fourth-down attempts.
The majority of the second half was all San Diego State, as the Aztecs rattled off 21 unanswered points to go up 42-28 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. SDSU scored on a 34-yard rush, six-yard pass and 82-yard rush, as Wyoming punted on its first four possessions of the second half.
The Aztecs looked to ice the game with another drive deep into Poke territory, but sophomore strong safety Chad Reese earned his third interception of the season and returned the ball to the SDSU 31 with 7:21 left in the game. Wyoming advanced the ball to the SDSU 15, but a fourth-and-five pass fell incomplete and SDSU ran close to three minutes off the clock. Wyoming got the ball back with 1:49 to go, but fell short of scoring in the final minute.
Smith ended his season attempting 174 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, good for No. 2 in Mountain West history. His 27 touchdown passes were second best in UW single-season history.