Courtesy Wyoming Media Relations
In the 500th home game in team history, the rushing game proved to be the difference as the University of Wyoming football team beat New Mexico on Saturday, 38-31.
On Homecoming, junior quarterback Brett Smith led the Cowboys (4-2 overall, 2-0 Mountain West) with 138 rush yards and two scores on the ground as UW racked up a season-high 285 rushing yards en route to its second conference win of the season. The biggest home crowd of the year (22,853) watched UW race out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, only to see the Lobos (2-4 overall, 0-2 MW) creep back in with 24 unanswered to tie the ball game with 13:16 left.
So when the Pokes needed an answer, they relied on to Smith, who had scoring runs of 3 and 48 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. The junior signal-caller finished with 247 yards and one score through the air and 138 yards and two TDs on the ground. Sophomore running back Shaun Wick added a career-high 116 yards rushing and two scores, the first time since 2011 the Pokes had two players with 100-plus yards rushing.
The Wyoming defense played its part perfectly, limiting the Lobos to 257 rushing yards (110 less than their season average) and forcing three turnovers.
"Our goal was to be 3-0 (at home) and what a great crowd we had," Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen said. "We want to make War Memorial Stadium the most difficult place to play in the country. I am proud of our kids. We went out and held them to 250 yards (rushing) and really, only 87 in the first half. We had to attack their running game and that's what we did."
Two Cowboys finished with double-figure tackles, including junior linebacker Jordan Stanton with 14 and senior safety Marqueston Huff with 10. Huff had one of the Cowboys' two fumble recoveries of the day, both of which stymied UNM drives in UW territory early in the contest. Junior safety Jesse Sampson, playing in his first career game with UW, had three tackles and one interception.
Wick got the Cowboys on the board early with two rushing TDs as UW led 14-0 after one quarter. Smith then found junior wide receiver Jalen Claiborne from 26 yards out with a pretty pass, and the Cowboys took a 21-0 lead. After three UNM scores, junior place-kicker Stuart Williams hit his first field goal of the season to give Wyoming a 24-17 lead. That margin was short-lived, as the Lobos tied the game at 24-all early in the fourth quarter.
But Smith's two TD gallops in the final frame gave UW a 38-24 lead, and UW hung on the rest of the way to earn the win.
Up next, Wyoming will host rival Colorado State on Saturday in the 105th edition of the Border War. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will be televised by ROOT Sports.