Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- Facing a third-and-goal at the Wyoming 6-yard line, Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener rolled to his right and fired a strike into the gut of Josh Kelly.
Just as the Bulldogs' receiver attempted to turn up field -- Bam!
Rome Weber, leading with his shoulder, smoked Kelly out of bounds. The play went for one yard. The field goal team was already setting up shop for the chip shot.
Then, the whistle blew and the flags flew. The officials were heading to the monitor.
Targeting was the call on the field. A few minutes later, it was confirmed. Weber was ejected from the game. After watching the replay, the Cowboys' safety went facemask-to-facemask with Kelly.
You know that's getting called.
On the next snap, Haener found tight end Juan Rodriguez from two yards out to put the visitors on the board first mid-way through the first quarter.
Little did we know at the time, that was the game winner.
"Being up 7-0, you know, having a lead, it seems like it's been a while since we had that," Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer said postgame. "That was a really good feeling and I think our kids kept playing."
It's been a while?
Who do you think you're talking to, coach?
Wyoming didn't score a point in Saturday's 17-0 blanking at the hands of the visiting Bulldogs. In fact, the Cowboys didn't score in the second half of last week game at Air Force, either. They also failed to do so in the first quarter in Colorado Springs for good measure.
It's hard to believe Fresno State's second drive of the game resulted in the turning point in this one.
There were other moments, too. Like the four interceptions and the Sean Chambers' fumble that led to that first touchdown.
There were also three horrific offensive snaps in the second half that all but put a bow on this one.
Still trailing 7-0 with nearly 12:41 left in the third quarter, the nose of the football sat right at Fresno State's 49-yard line. It was just the third time the home team had entered Bulldog territory all afternoon.
Titus Swen had a nine yard burst on first down. Chambers followed that with five of his own.
Then the came an end-around to the short side of the field to wide receiver Isaiah Neyor. The play was doomed from the word go. Neyor took the handoff and was immediately met in the backfield for a six-yard loss.
The next two plays weren't much prettier. Two drop backs, two sacks. Leonard Payne Jr. was in on both.
It was a rough day at the office for the Cowboys offense.
"Obviously, we've got to generate some points," UW head coach Craig Bohl said. "We are in a real tailspin."
Fresno State 17, Wyoming 0
Garrett Crall recorded just one official tackle in this loss to the Bulldogs.
But that doesn't really tell his story in this one.
The super senior was quick around the edge all afternoon. He had shots at Haener, but was just a tick late. He also forced Fresno State into a pair of holding penalties. The Cowboys' defensive end held the fort on the outside, keeping Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims between the tackles all afternoon.
Crall's biggest impact might have been his leadership on the sidelines.
"I just love these guys on defense," Crall said. "I told them that during the game, I was like, 'Hey, I love you guys. Just keep fighting. Keep clawing. Just do your job every play and do what we can.'"
Wyoming's defense allowed just 259 yards of total offense in this one. Haener, who entered the night averaging 372 yards passing per game, finished with just 96 in this one.
"Yeah, I really think we still got a chance to do big things. I don't think the season's over. We are halfway through, right? So, we have six more games -- we're really just getting started. I feel like we can win out the rest of our games. I feel like we just have to continue to keep working and come in on Monday ready to work. I feel like that's what we're all going to do."
-- Wyoming's senior safety Esaias Gandy when asked what it means to him to listen to Crall speak about the goals still being very much alive for this team.
The Cowboys will stay right here in Laramie for homecoming where they will take on the New Mexico Lobos. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. The Lobos knocked off the Cowboys 17-16 last December inside Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, New Mexico's makeshift home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That victory snapped a 14-game losing streak for the Lobos. The all-time series is 38-35. Wyoming has the slight advantage.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players