Friday, November 6, 2009

Cowboys back home with BYU

by UW Athletics Media Relations

The Wyoming Cowboys are back in town after nearly a month away when they face the No. 25 BYU at noon in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Wyoming has a 4-4 overall record this season and is 2-2 in Mountain West Conference play. BYU is 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the MWC. The Cougars are ranked No. 25 in all three major polls – the Associated Press media poll, USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Harris Interactive poll.

BYU will be the second Top 25 ranked team to visit Laramie this season, and will be the third Top 25 team the Wyoming Cowboys have faced this season. Wyoming hosted No. 2 ranked Texas on Sept. 12, 2009, losing to the Longhorns 10-41. Last week, UW faced No. 16 ranked Utah in Salt Lake City, losing 10-22.

Wyoming will be looking to improve on its 3-1 home record this season, and will be seeking its third consecutive conference home win when they host BYU. UW has begun the 2009 Mountain West Conference schedule winning each of its two MWC home games over UNLV (30-27) and New Mexico (37-13). The last time the Pokes won three consecutive MWC home games was at the end of the 2006 season and the start of the 2007 campaign. UW defeated Utah, Colorado State and San Diego State to conclude the 2006 home schedule and defeated TCU in the first MWC home game of 2007 to win four consecutive conference home games.

Last Saturday, the Pokes had the No. 16 ranked Utah Utes on the ropes until midway through the fourth quarter before losing 22-10 in Salt Lake City on Halloween night. Wyoming took an early 3-0 lead as they put together a 13-play, 49-yard drive on its opening possession of the game capped by an Ian Watts 32-yard field goal. Utah came back to tie the game 3-3, early in the second quarter on a Joe Phillips 43-yard field goal to conclude a 7-play, 55-yard drive by the Utes.

With 4:56 remaining in the first half, Wyoming scored a touchdown on a play that involved both of the Cowboys’ quarterbacks. Freshman QB Austyn Carta-Samuels threw a lateral to junior quarterback Robert Benjamin, who was lined up as a wide receiver. Benjamin then threw a pass back across the field to Carta-Samuels who took the ball 30-yards down the sideline to give UW a 10-3 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Utah’s offense penetrated the redzone twice, reaching the Cowboy four-yard line on its opening drive of the second half and reaching the Wyoming 15 on its second drive, but the Wyoming defense stiffened both times and held the Utes to two field goals. Wyoming retained a 10-9 lead after three quarters of play.

It wasn’t until the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter that Utah took its first lead of the game. The Utes got good field-position at their own 45-yard line, and drove the ball 55 yards on 7 plays culminating in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Wynn to Jereme Brooks to take a 16-10 lead.

The final TD of the game was scored by Utah, after Wyoming went for a fourth and six at its own 20-yard line with two minutes remaining in the game. Utah sacked Cowboy QB Carta-Samuels at the Wyoming nine-yard line and two plays later Utah scored its final touchdown to capture the home win.

The Cowboys not only led Utah throughout most of their meeting on Oct. 31, but UW also held a lead against current No. 2 ranked Texas on Sept. 12 in Laramie. The Cowboys led Texas 10-6 with 1:32 remaining in the first half before the Longhorns went on to post a 41-10 victory over Wyoming.

Wyoming’s loss to No. 2 ranked Texas is its only home loss this season. In its three home wins, Wyoming has averaged 32.0 points per game, scoring 29 vs. Weber State, 30 vs. UNLV and 37 vs. New Mexico. In its three home wins, the Pokes have held opponents to an average of 20.6 points per game per game -- 22 vs. Weber State, 27 vs. UNLV and 13 vs. New Mexico. UW has won or been even in turnover margin in all four of its home games in 2009. Wyoming has committed a total of only two turnovers at home this season, while forcing 12 opponent turnovers in War Memorial Stadium. UW was a +4 in TO margin vs. Weber State and UNLV, was a +2 vs. New Mexico and was even vs. Texas.

The Cowboy defense continues to be the only team in the nation with three players ranked in the Top 25 in the NCAA in tackles. Inside linebackers Brian Hendricks and Gabe Knapton and free safety Chris Prosinski rank No. 4, 5 and 15 in the NCAA this season. Only one other team in the nation has two players ranked among the Top 25. That is the University of Houston.

UW also has six of the Top 14 tacklers in MWC this season. Hendricks, Knapton and Prosinski rank No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 in the league. Senior outside linebacker Weston Johnson ranks No. 5 in the league and No. 60 nationally, and freshman strong safety Shamiel Gary ranks No. 6 in the Mountain West and No. 70 in the NCAA. Junior cornerback Marcell Gipson ranks 14th in the MWC in tackles.

Wyoming sophomore inside linebacker Gabe Knapton not only ranks No. 5 in the NCAA in tackles this season, but he has recorded double figures in tackles in each of Wyoming’s last seven games. The streak of double-figure tackle games began against Texas (12 tackles). Since then he has had: 10 at Colorado, 17 vs. UNLV, 10 at Florida Atlantic, 11 vs. New Mexico, 11 at Air Force and 12 at Utah.

Saturday’s Wyoming-BYU game will be televised live on The Mtn. The Cowboy Sports Network will, as always, broadcast the game on radio over its 25 affiliate stations beginning with the pregame show one hour prior to kickoff.

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