Wyoming Loses Homecoming Game to Air Force, 28-27
Brett Smith watched from the sideline as Wyoming lost to Air Force, 28-27, during homecoming in Laramie on Saturday. It was the Cowboys fourth loss this year by seven points or less, and they remain win-less (0-3) at home in 2012.
Wyoming had a 24-14 lead at halftime with true freshman Jason Thompson getting his first start at quarterback, but the Pokes could only manage a field goal in the second half. Air Force took the lead with 7:45 left when backup quarterback Kale Pearson dove over the pylon from 5 yards out.
The Falcons starting QB, Connor Dietz, was on the sideline after losing his helmet on the previous play. Dietz was attended to on the field for several minutes. Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said Dietz had been "thumped pretty good" and was "dinged a little bit in the head and in the lower body."
Dietz was back behind center on the following drive and Calhoun said he thinks his quarterback will be okay. Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen seemed to convey after the game that he thinks there never was an injury.
After shaking hands with Calhoun, Christensen appeared to yell at him. Christensen told media that he believes the injury delay was unethical as it allowed backup Pearson adequate time to warm up before running in for the game winning touchdown, without Air Force having to utilize a timeout.
"I did learn a new trick though," said Christensen. "If you wanna save time, what you do is have a guy walk across the field, then 10 yards away tell him to fall down and then lay there for 3 minutes, so you don't have to use a timeout and you can get everything ready for your next play. Even if it looks like he's dying, you can get him to stand back up and go back in the next play. That's a pretty good trick. Really question the ethics when people do that stuff. I've heard about that in the NFL. I hadn't seen it yet in college football till today."
Air Force personnel saw Dietz in the training room following the game, but would not say if it was for an injury sustained during the game.
"I'm sure I'll get in trouble for questioning it," commented Christensen about Dietz' injury. "That's not what I'm trying to teach our kids."
The biggest question of the game had to do with Christensen's own quarterback though. Two hours before game time, Christensen announced through Twitter that Smith would not be playing and Thompson would be starting. It was stated by Thompson after the game that, "I think it was actually Sunday (answering a question from the media about when he found out he would start). They told Brett he had to go, (slight pause) he got another concussion so, then they told me just to get ready."
In Smith's place, Thompson started the day 9-for-9 and led the Pokes on their longest scoring drive of the season at 99 yards. In the second quarter Thompson threw for his first career touchdown pass with a 4-yard completion to Chris McNeill. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 195 yards while rushing for 84 yards, but most of that was accomplished in the first half. Thompson's second half stats show him completing just 1-of-9 passes for 18 yards and rushing for 19 yards. The Cowboys rolled up 322 yards of total offense in the first half, but managed only 66 after the 3rd quarter drive that resulted in a field goal and a 27-14 lead.
Wyoming's defense also faded in the second half. After 6 first downs in the first half, Air Force racked up 12 in the second. Then when UW was forced to punt with just 5:29 remaining in the game, the defense could not come up with the needed stop to put the ball back in the Pokes hands. The final dagger came with 1:07 left, when a penalty for being offside gave Air Force the final first down they needed to maintain possession while the clock ran down.
The Cowboys fall to 1-5 on the season and are now 0-2 in Mountain West Conference games. They head to Fresno State next Saturday to take on the Bulldogs at 8:30 p.m. MT. Coverage will begin on KOWB at 7:30 p.m.