Three stars of the game: Pokes vs. Rams
FORT COLLINS, Colo., -- The visitors needed someone to step up.
Trailing throughout Saturday night's tilt in Fort Collins -- and the injuries beginning to mount -- Wyoming was looking for a spark. It found just that in the form of a turnover. It was a muffed punt. It came courtesy of Tory Horton, of all people.
Colorado State's standout wide receiver snagged a team-high eight passes for 168 yards. He also took the opening punt of the game 72 yards for a touchdown.
He was the most dynamic player on either roster inside Canvas Stadium, but it was a trio of blunders that will haunt the Nevada transfer, none bigger than handing the Cowboys the ball at the CSU 18-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
A couple of guys on our list took care of the rest:
1st star: Jayden Clemons - Quarterback
Two snaps after that Horton fumble, Jayden Clemons, who was filling in under center for an injured Andrew Peasley, took the shotgun snap, looked to his left and confidently fired a strike toward the pylon. Alex Brown leapt over a CSU defender to haul in the 32-yard touchdown pass that eventually gave UW a 14-13 lead.
Entering this game, Clemons had attempted just two career passes. The Utah transfer and former walk-on was true on both of those. After Peasley entered concussion protocol in the second quarter, Clemons entered the game and connected on 7-of-11 throws for 90 yards and that score.
The redshirt sophomore also opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run. Clemons finished with 32 yards on five carries and converted two third downs with his legs in the win.
"He has been an engaged leader," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "Last year at this time, he was running on the scout team. He made a predetermined decision to improve his skill set and then he became much more of a student of the game. So, he has that credibility. Then he's got an engaging personality and he went in there and he did not flinch. I mean, he didn't flinch at all."
Will Clemons be the guy this Saturday when UW hosts Boise State in a battle for the top spot in the Mountain Division? Bohl said that is to be determined.
2nd star: Easton Gibbs - Linebacker
For the eighth time in his career and the third instance this season, Easton Gibbs tallied double-digit tackles.
The Cowboys starting middle linebacker capped his night in Fort Collins with 13 tackles. For good measure, he also added a sack and another tackle for loss in the win.
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Wyoming's defense allowed just six offensive points and picked off a pass in the red zone. The Rams offense did roll up 372 yards on the night, but most of that damage came between the 20's. CSU, needing just a field goal to pull off the upset, got the ball back at its own 18-yard line with 50 seconds remaining.
What was going through Gibbs' mind?
"If you look at it, it boils down to they had a couple of big plays all game, but other than that, they couldn't move the ball," the junior said. "So, we were confident in that. And, you know, we knew our pass rush has been good all year. We were pretty confident going in that situation. I mean, we knew what we had to do and we went and did it."
Gibbs leads the team with 88 tackles this fall and has two sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
3rd star: Alex Brown - Wide receiver
Alex Brown certainly looks the part.
Wyoming's sophomore wide receiver is every bit of 6-foot-4. He hovers around 200 pounds. He's quick, possesses solid route-running skills and can go up and get it. So, why on earth did the Texas native have just five career catches coming into Saturday night?
"I think some of it is, you know, he's been injured a little bit," Bohl said. "Some of it has been confidence."
Brown finished with just one catch against the Cowboys' Border War rival, but it was the biggest one of the night. The Rams never could find an answer for that 32-yard score despite having nearly 11 minutes left in regulation.
Wyoming lost Isaiah Neyor in the offseason. He was the team's leading receiver, hauling in 44 catches for 878 yards and a dozen touchdowns. This year, an attempt to match that production has been a group effort. Brown, who now has three grabs for 41 yards, could add a whole new element to this evolving passing game.
"I mean, yeah, I think it definitely boosts your confidence," Brown said postgame. "I think anybody would say scoring a touchdown in a college football game would help their confidence, but really I just have to stay humble and keep fighting because the year isn't over and we still have a lot of football left to play and a lot more to prove."
The Cowboys are now 7-3 overall and 5-1 in Mountain West play. Boise State enters week 12 with a perfect 6-0 mark in league play. Whichever team walks out of War Memorial Stadium victorious Saturday night will be in the driver's seat with just one game remaining in the regular season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.