Wyoming played its best game of the season in a 17-14 Victory over Air Force

Laramie, Wyo. (September 16, 2022) — From their first possession of the game on Friday night, the Wyoming Cowboys showed they were determined to play their best football of the season and did just that by winning their third straight game with a 17-14 victory over previously unbeaten Air Force Falcons.

With the win, Wyoming finds itself holding the best record in the Mountain West at 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the league.

The Cowboy offense beat the Falcons both on the ground and through the air Friday night. Wyoming accounted for 180 rushing yards to Air Force’s 171. The Cowboys threw for 162 yards to Air Force’s 101. Wyoming also went 6-of-11 on third down attempts and won the all-important time of possession battle when they play the Falcons, holding the ball for 30 minutes, 34 seconds compared to Air Force’s 29 minutes, 26 seconds.

Facing an Air Force rushing attack that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation averaging 508.5 yards per game, the Cowboys’ defense held the Falcons to 171 rushing yards — 337.5 yards below their average.

“Great team win,” the Wyoming head coach said Craig Ball. “We’ve always had very competitive games against Air Force. I felt this was the best Air Force football team since I have been in charge
coach.

“Our guys had a great week of practice. We are an emerging football team. We’re a young football team in a lot of places and a lot of these guys are growing up fast. I really think our coaching staff did a great job putting together a game plan and the players came out and executed it.

“We beat a really good football team tonight. It took a lot. The boys are out there yelling, “Powder River, let it be Buck.” They hugged the state of Wyoming. I hope the state of Wyoming is proud of these guys.

“This team (Air Force) was intimidating to come in here. Air Force has good players and at halftime we turned the tables on them. We had (the advantage in) time of possession. We had played more games and I felt pretty good about it.

“It was a great win for us.”

There were plenty of individual honors for the Pokes. Central defender and captain of the defence Easton Gibbs did not start the game after suffering flu-like symptoms Thursday night and Friday. Although he didn’t start the game, he entered early in the first quarter and finished the day with six tackles and 1.0 tackles for loss. His fellow captain in the defense, a blow to the nose Cole Godbout, led all players in the game with nine tackles, had 1.0 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. Redshirt freshman defensive end Braden Siders had the best game of his young career with six tackles and a defense Jordan Bertagnole also made six tackles. Redshirt freshman Read Sunnwho started in place of Gibbs, contributed four tackles against the Falcons.

Cowboy running back Titus Care recorded his first 100-yard game of the season and fourth of his career with 102 yards. Swen scored the game-winning touchdown with 6:06 left in the game on a five-yard run where he wouldn’t be stopped — making his way into the end zone with the help of his teammates, who pushed the Air Force defense back over the goal line. Swen also made a huge attempt on Wyoming’s final possession of the game. Facing third-and-13 at the Wyoming 29-yard line, Swen cut to his right and outran the Air Force defense for a 17-yard gain and a first down. That play and a play later in the drive when his running back buddy, Davaian McNeelygained three yards on third-and-two at the Air Force 46, allowing Wyoming’s offense to run out the final 4 minutes, 47 seconds of the game and preventing Air Force from getting the ball back.

Quarterback Andrew Peasley had another outstanding game for the Cowboys. He completed 18 of 23 passes for a 78.3 completion percentage, 162 yards, one touchdown pass and one interception. It marked the third straight game this season that Paisley completed over 60 percent of his passes. He completed 20 of 30 passes (66.7 percent) in a win over Tulsa and 19 of 30 passes (63.3 percent) against Northern Colorado in a home win. It’s the first time a Cowboy quarterback has completed over 60 percent of his passes in three consecutive games since Cameron Coffman accomplished that in 2015 against Washington State, New Mexico and Appalachian State.

The Wyoming Cowboys played a nearly perfect first half. Wyoming’s defense held Air Force to just 87 yards of total offense and just 47 yards rushing, while the Cowboy offense generated 183 total yards in the first half, including 111 yards rushing and 72 yards passing.

Wyoming took the opening kickoff and drove 73 yards in 15 plays to the Air Force two-yard line, where on fourth-and-goal a Cowboy John Hoyland came in and booted a 20-yard field goal to give the Pokes a 3-0 lead with 7:28 left in the first quarter. For Hoyland, it was his 11th field goal in 12 attempts this season. He entered the game as the nation’s leader in field goals made per game (3.33) and was No. 6 in the nation in scoring (12.3 points per game). Wyoming’s drive took 7:32 off the clock.

Air Force moved the ball 39 yards in 12 plays to the Wyoming 36-yard line on its first possession, but Falcon kicker Matthew Dapore missed a 53-yard attempt with just 46 seconds left in the period. The Falcons’ punt took 6:32 and the first quarter would end with two Wyoming plays on its second possession late in the quarter.

Wyoming moved the ball to the Air Force 36 early in the second period, but on the first play of the second quarter, Peasley was intercepted by Falcon linebacker Trey Taylor.

Air Force and Wyoming traded punts on their next two possessions. The Cowboys forced Air Force to punt in the second quarter and a 36-yard punt by the Falcons gave Pokes the ball at the AFA 42-yard line.

After runs of five and 23 yards by Swen, Peasley found the tight end Treyton Welch into the left corner of the end zone for a 14-yard TD pass and the Cowboys had a 10-0 lead with 7:21 left in the half. That would be the end of the half.

For Wyoming, it was the first time the Cowboys shut out a team at halftime since Nov. 20, 2021, when UW shut out Utah State in the second half in Logan, Utah.

The third quarter began with Air Force clawing their way back into the game as they went on a 13-play, 75-yard drive on their first possession of the second half. Falcon quarterback Haazik Daniels finished with a nine-yard TD pass to wide receiver David Cormier to pull Air Force within three points at 10-7 with 7:45 left. Neither team would threaten to score until late in the third quarter.

Air Force started its first drive of the fourth quarter at its own 20-yard line and proceeded to move the ball down to the Wyoming 41-yard line. Then Falcon quarterback Daniels found wide receiver Cade Harris behind the Wyoming defense for a 41-yard TD pass and suddenly Air Force had its first lead at 14-10 with 9:58 left in the game.

On the very next possession, Peasley would show his leadership skills. Wyoming was on its own 26-yard line and facing third-and-nine. Peasley found a wide receiver Wyatt Wieland down the left side for 24 yards and a first down at the 50-yard line. Peasley rushed for five yards on the next play and McNeely scampered for 10 yards after that. After a one-yard run by Swen, the Pokes were at the Air Force 34 on second-and-nine. Peasley then lined up at fullback/tight end Parker Christensen down the middle for 29 yards to the Air Force five. That’s where Swen would not be denied as he and his teammates forced the Air Force defense back into the end zone for what would be the game-winning touchdown and give UW a 17-10 lead with 6:06 remaining.

The Falcons gained a first down on what would be their final possession before the Cowboys defense forced them to punt on fourth and seven.

With 4:47 left in the game, the Cowboy offense held the ball for the final 4:47, driving 30 yards in 11 plays to run out the clock

Friday’s game marked the 60th time the Cowboys and Falcons have met on the football field. The streak dates back to November 2, 1957, when the two teams played each other for the first time in Laramie. This match ended in a 7-7 draw. With Friday night’s win, the Cowboys have now won 27 games in the series to Air Force’s 30. There were three connections.

Wyoming has now won seven of the last 11 meetings with Air Force. During Craig Ball era at Wyoming, the Pokes have won five of eight meetings and all four games in Laramie — 17-14 in 2022, 35-27 in 2018, 35-26 in 2016 and 17-13 in 2014. The last time , when the Falcons won in Laramie in 2012 by just one point, 28-27.

The 2022 season marks the 24th season in the Mountain West Conference. Wyoming is now 12-12 (.500) in Mountain West openers. UW is 8-6 (.571) when opening MW play at home and is 4-6 (.400) when opening on the road. The Cowboys have won six of their last 10 MW openers and five of nine in the Craig Ball era.

The two longest-tenured head coaches in the Mountain West Conference are Wyoming’s head coach Craig Ball (nine years in Wyoming) and the Air Force Troy Calhoun (16 years in the Air Force). They are also two of the winningest active coaches in college football. See below for the top active coaches, ranked by their total career wins as a head coach.

Most wins by an active FBS coach

Rank Wins Coach, School
1. 271 Nick Saban, Alabama
2. 268 Mack Brown, North Carolina
3. 264 Brian Kelly, LSU
4. 191 Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
5. 187 Willie Fritz, Tulane
6. 177 Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
7. 175 Terry Bowden, Louisiana-Monroe
8. 158 Jerry Kiel, New Mexico State
9. 152 Craig BallWyoming
152 Mike Leach, Mississippi State
152 Dabo Swinney, Clemson
12. 151 Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
19. 113 Troy Calhoun, Air Force

It follows: The Wyoming Cowboys will play an old rival next week when they travel to Provo, Utah to take on the BYU Cougars on Saturday, September 24th. This game is scheduled to start at 8:15 PM Mountain Time. The game will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2. The announcement of the specific TV will be made at the beginning of next week. The last time the two rivals played was in 2016 in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. BYU won this tough game by a score of 24-21. Next week’s game will mark the 79th meeting between the two schools.

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