By Wyoming Sports.org
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- So much for not turning the football over and so much for a fast start.
It was same ole,’ same ole’ for the Wyoming Cowboys Saturday night against New Mexico. The Lobos got on the scoreboard just 15 seconds into the game and never looked back in dominating the anemic Cowboys 24-0.
With the loss, the Cowboys (0-3 MWC, 2-4 overall) have yet to score a touchdown in their three conference games, being outscored 91-3.
After last week’s disastrous four-quarterback rotation that emphasized no mistakes, that’s exactly what happened for the Cowboys on the first play from scrimmage. Starting quarterback Karsten Sween’s first pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and easily intercepted and returned for a 13-yard touchdown by New Mexico’s Frankie Solomon.
This time Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn stuck with Sween the entire game, but the Wyoming offense never really threatened to get on the board. Sween was just 9 of 19 passing for 71 yards, with the Cowboy offense accumulating just 201 yards of total offense.
Glenn was basically at a loss of words during the post-game radio show on Leerfield Sports.
“Unbelievable,” Glenn said of the team’s start. “We worked that pass 20 times this week knowing that that would be the first play of the game and never had it tipped once. We’re a little snake-bit if you will, but I stand behind my guys. The guys are busting their butts and putting together good work. For it to go down like that is disheartening. It is so disheartening. You have some long faces and I feel bad for the kids. They want it and are trying hard. We just couldn’t get it going against New Mexico.”
As was the case from the Albuquerque skies, when it rains on the Cowboys, it seems to pour.
New Mexico head coach Rocky Long said the initial turnover not only helped the Lobos get some momentum, they didn't give it up the entire night.
"It probably hurt Wyoming psychologically, probably worse than it helped us get momentum. Because last week, I think it was the first two series of downs that they turned the ball over and Bowling Green scored off the turnover," Long said. "I feel bad for them because that has happened to us earlier in the season. If you turn the ball over close to the goal line, its hard to win games. I'm glad we won, but I have been on the other end of that so I feel their pain."
Although the Wyoming defense played well at times, it still gave up some big yards on the ground against a New Mexico offense that didn’t try to do anything fancy but run straight ahead.
The Lobos ran for 317 yards on the ground, even with starting running back and the league’s top rusher, Rodney Ferguson, on the bench with an injury. Third-string back, redshirt freshman James Wright ran for 120 yards, with senior Paul Baker adding 90 yards and quarterback Brad Bruner 80 yards.
Gruner was just 8 of 19 passing, but his legs hurt the Cowboys. A 52-yard scramble in the second quarter set up his 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Lobos (1-1, 3-3) a 21-0 lead with 5:58 left in the third quarter.
A 29-yard punt by Austin McCoy gave the Lobos good field position at the 50-yard line, followed by a UW pass interferrence penalty helped set up the Lobos second touchdown, a Wright 1-yard score. James Aho’s 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter closed the scoring.
Long said that while his offense wasn't exactly pretty without much of a passing game, they did what they wanted to do.
"A couple weeks ago everyone was talking about how bad we were. Now we have won two games and it's ugly?," Long said. "I don't think there is such a thing. Obviously, we are struggling to move the ball. We are not throwing and catching really well. The only chance you have to win is to play good defense and control the line of scrimmage and run the ball pretty well. We didn't kick the ball as well. We have been really good in special teams but we weren't very good in special teams tonight. We ran the ball good enough and played good enough defense to win."
Wyoming had three turnovers in the game, with two fumbles by Sween that were both on fourth down as the Cowboys were trying to get something going.
“We felt like we had a good plan for it, it just made us look bad,” Glenn said.
Field position also hurt the Cowboys, including a 49-yard opening kickoff return by Devin Moore that was called back because of a holding penalty.
“We’re our own worst enemy there, too,” Glenn said. “I don’t know how many times on kickoff return that we have a clip or a hold … it just can’t happen. We had a couple of good returns that were called back of what I just talked about.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Cowboys, as they host No. 15 Utah on Saturday and then travel to TCU on Oct. 25.