It was a game Wyoming should have won.
But even though the Cowboys put together one of their better offensive games, and did some good things on defense late in the contest, they lost their season-finale at New Mexico 36-30 Saturday.
UW (4-8 overall, 2-6 Mountain West) had 541 yards of total offense, ran 94 plays compared to New Mexico’s 39 and held the ball for nearly 42 minutes.
But with the ball at the New Mexico 5-yard line in the final minute of the game, the Cowboys couldn’t score. A false start penalty on senior offensive tackle Connor Rains — the lone senior on that offensive line — didn’t help. But the offense got no closer than the 4-yard line.
Here is video of the final few plays, including a nice 44-yard catch made by sophomore receiver Tanner Gentry to get the ball down to the 5.
A defense that gave up scoring plays of 75 and 69 yards settled down. But it was too late despite not allowing any New Mexico points in the fourth quarter. Then again, UW’s offense also didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
A special teams unit that blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter, also allowed a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. New Mexico junior Carlos Wiggins, who now has four kickoff returns for a touchdown, ran one back 97 yards late in the third quarter in what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. Why UW kicked to him I will never know. Coach Craig Bohl didn’t really answer the question after the game. There was word in the press box that Wiggins changed positions on the kickoff late in the formation. Maybe, but it wasn’t addressed by UW, and there was some missed tackles.
Here is Bohl after the game:
New Mexico averaged a school-record 9.8 yards per play, and UW had only one tackle for loss the entire game.
As good as the offense was at times, it faltered at critical times.
The last drive was the biggest, but there was an interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter after the ball was tipped. Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard, who started and played the entire game despite a severely sprained ankle suffered last week, threw for a career-high 366 yards. But he also was sacked six times. He missed a few throws and should have got rid of the ball a few others to avoid sacks.
Still, it was a gutsy effort by Kirkegaard. Here he is after the game.
Really liked how sophomore safety and Cheyenne Central graduate Will Tutein played. He had five tackles, forced a fumble and blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter. A guy who walked on in the fall and with little football experience, he is a guy UW fans can get excited about in the future.
Here is Tutein after the game:
A season filled with ups and downs ends for UW with a 4-8 overall record and 2-6 in the Mountain West. There are some promising things to look forward to heading into next season. The running back duo of Shaun Wick and Brian Hill should be fun. Those two combined for 211 yards (163 for Hill, 48 for Wick) and two touchdowns (one apiece). Four offensive linemen return, but is that good or not?
There will be a new quarterback, some new receivers need to be found and there will be a lot of new guys on defense across the board.
Are you excited or optimistic about the future of UW football?
For more coverage, including the Cowboys’ 78-75 men’s basketball win over New Mexico State Saturday, see Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.