Courtesy: Wyoming Media Relations
Junior quarterback Brett Smith notched a record-breaking day while leading the University of Wyoming football team to a 42-10 rout of Idaho on Saturday afternoon in front of 22,030 fans at War Memorial Stadium. Smith guided the Cowboys (1-1) to 42 unanswered points in the second and third quarters, while the UW defense held the Vandals (0-2) off the scoreboard until midway through the fourth quarter.
"To get the victory here at home with a great crowd in a great atmosphere, it sure is a good thing," UW head coach Dave Christensen said. "That was our number one goal, to start out 1-0 at The War, so I'm pleased with that. I am really pleased with the way our defense played today. I thought they were sensational, particularly with the struggles our offense had early on with those three and outs. They just came right back out there and forced them to punt the ball."
Smith passed for 295 yards and four touchdowns in a 22-for-38 performance, while also adding 64 rushing yards. He is now responsible for 72 touchdowns in his 25 career games, moving ahead of Casey Bramlet, who had 70 from 2000-03. He also moved into second on UW's career touchdown passes list and fifth on the career passing yards chart.
Smith wasn't Wyoming's only star for the day, as the offense and defense clicked on all cylinders to give the Cowboys their 10th win in the last 11 home openers. Junior wide receiver Dominic Rufran had five catches for 61 yards, but three of those went for touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Robert Herron posted 123 yards on five catches and freshman wide receiver Tanner Gentry had a game-high six catches for 76 yards. Sophomore running back Shaun Wick racked up 110 rushing yards on 15 carries, becoming the first Cowboy with back-to-back 100-yard games since Devin Moore in 2008.
Defensively, redshirt freshman linebacker Lucas Wacha earned 11 tackles, including half a sack. Sophomore defensive end Eddie Yarbrough tied a career high with three sacks and added nine tackles. The UW defense forced two turnovers for the second time this season and made the Vandals to punt nine times, including seven three-and-outs. The Cowboy defense posted seven total sacks.
Wyoming tallied 564 total yards, including 302 through the air, while allowing 344 total yards to Idaho. The Cowboys earned a 25-16 advantage in first downs and converted on 11-of-18 third-down attempts.
It was a defensive battle to start that featured a combined eight punts in the first quarter. The Wyoming defense forced four three-and-outs to start the game, before senior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens forced a Vandal fumble at midfield that was recovered by Yarbrough. The Cowboys capitalized with three straight rushes from Wick, including a 27-yard rumble down the left side of the field, before senior running back Brandon Miller started the second quarter with 10-yard touchdown run. The four-play, 42-yard drive took 52 seconds and put UW up 7-0.
After another Idaho punt, Smith hit Herron over the middle for a 48-yard strike and senior running back Tedder Easton finished the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run up the middle to give Wyoming its second touchdown in just over three minutes. The 91-yard drive took just seven plays and 1:51.
Lightning in the area forced a 34-minute delay of the game, before the squads returned to the field and exchanged punts. Idaho drove to the UW 29 on its ensuing drive, but went for it on fourth-and-one and Wacha tackled the Vandal player short of the first down. UW got back to its scoring ways with a systematic 11-play drive that went 71 yards in 2:59. Smith went five-of-six on the drive, including a four-yard pass to senior tight end Spencer Bruce for a touchdown. The score pushed the Cowboys advantage to 21-0 with 49 seconds left in the half.
Idaho made its deepest drive of the first half to UW's 24 and attempted a 41-yard field with no time on the clock, but the ball sailed wide right.
Smith passed for 103 yards on 8-of-18 in the first half, while Herron, Bruce and Gentry all hauled in two passes each. Wick had 90 rushing yards on 11 attempts. Defensively, junior linebacker Jordan Stanton had seven tackles, while junior linebacker Sonny Puletasi added four tackles and two sacks. UW racked up 258 yards in the first half to 120 for Idaho.
The Cowboys were just as dominant in the second half, posting another 21 points in the third quarter. Junior safety Darrenn White forced another fumble that Wacha recovered and Smith converted into a touchdown with a one-yard pass to Rufran. The Cowboys notched another touchdown on their ensuing drive with a six-yard pass from Smith to Rufran that pushed Smith atop UW's touchdowns responsible for career list. Smith capped the quarter with a 40-yard strike to Rufran for another score that put the Pokes on top 42-0 with 50 seconds left in the third.
Smith threw a pick in the endzone early in the fourth quarter to end his day, as the Vandals converted the turnover into their first points of the game with a 41-yard field goal with 6:15 to go. Idaho notched the final score of the game with a touchdown with 18 seconds left.
Wyoming continues its season by hosting Northern Colorado at 2 p.m. Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. Fans can purchase tickets by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com.