Three stars of the game
DEKALB, Ill., -- Isaiah Neyor caught just eight balls over a six-game span last fall.
Through two games in 2021 -- the redshirt freshman already has seven.
Saturday, we witnessed a coming-out party of sorts. And it's arrived earlier than expected. Neyor suffered a high ankle sprain on the second day of fall camp. Trainers thought maybe he could be at full speed around the Cowboys' third game of the season.
Does that guy really have another gear?
"Today was a great showing of his ability," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "I think you're just going to see more and more plays that he just did, in the future."
During the Cowboys' 50-43 nail biter in DeKalb, Neyor was a man among boys. That's why he is our choice for star of the week.
1st star: Isaiah Neyor - Wide receiver
Wyoming's 6-foot-3, 210-pound game-changer did exactly that against Northern Illinois. He hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Sean Chambers in the first quarter. He grabbed another one in the back corner of the end zone late in the first half, too. Neyor added a score on a jet sweep to complete his three touchdown day. As impressive as all of that is, Neyor's biggest moment was saved for the fourth quarter when the Cowboys needed it most. Trailing 43-42 with a little more than four minutes left in regulation, Chambers heaved up a throw down the UW sideline. Stumbling backward, Neyor got both hands on the ball -- along with two feet -- and held on as an NIU safety hammered him out of bounds. The play went under review after initially being ruled incomplete. It was overturned. Wyoming had the ball at the Huskies' 4-yard line after the clutch 30-yard completion. Three plays later, UW took the lead back for good. Neyor assisted on that, too. He caught a two-point conversion that made this a seven-point game. Neyor finished with four catches for 87 yards.
2nd star: Chad Muma - Linebacker
Surprised? Didn't think so. Wyoming's junior middle linebacker once again proved he was one of the best players on the field Saturday, registering 10 tackles, one for loss and snagging an interception off the right arm of NIU quarterback Rocky Lombardi for a touchdown in the third quarter that gave the visitors a commanding -- or so we thought -- 42-16 advantage. Through two games, the Cowboys' captain has 21 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, an interception for a score and a blocked kick. That would be a successful season for some. For Muma, it appears to be just another day at the office. Muma said the part of his game that was lacking is in the turnover department. That's being rectified as we speak.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
* Turning point, unsung hero and what's next for UW football
* Rants & Raves: Northern Illinois edition
* 3 Quick takes: Isaiah Neyor is the real deal, folks
* Behind the numbers: UW vs. NIU
3rd star: Xazavian Valladay - Running back
The local kid and newly crowned team captain, eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time in the 2021 season after finishing with 101 rushing yards on 21 carries against the Huskies. Valladay also scored a touchdown in the win. Playing just an hour away from his hometown, Valladay helped spark the Cowboys' 10-play, 75-yard game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. The junior running back turned the corner for an 18-yard gain on Wyoming's second snap. Three plays later, he hauled in a screen pass that looked doomed from the start and turned that into 10 more yards and another UW first down. That got the Cowboys' into Huskie's territory. Chambers and Neyor took care of the rest.
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