Friday, November 27, 2009

Cowboys get the job done

UW-CSU statistics

by Richard Anderson
Just another game, another quarterback and another kicker getting it done for the Wyoming Cowboys.

So says first-year Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen ... in jest.

It was more than just another game for the Cowboys, who edged Colorado State 17-16 Friday in Fort Collins to not only get the Bronze Boot back, but earn a bowl-game berth in the process.

"You come down here to play in a game like this and you throw out the records, you know it's going to be a hard-fought battle and we said going into it that we needed to win the fourth quarter and we were able to do that with two key drives," Christensen said. "Austyn (Carta-Samuels) scored one on the long run and the freshman kicks the field goal on the other."

Carta-Samuels, at quarterback, ran for two touchdowns -- an 8-yard scored to give the Cowboys a 7-6 lead in the second quarter, and a 49-yard run to give them a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

He then drove Wyoming the own the field late, where true freshman Ian Watts nailed a 33-yard field goal with 1:27 left for what proved to be the winning score.

Picked last in the conference preseason poll, the Cowboys finished fifth in the Mountain West Conference standings at 4-4 and are 6-6 heading into a bowl game.

"At the beginning of the year, there was no respect for this program and the thing you can do about it is go out and win some games," Christensen said. "We were picked ninth, we won outright fifth in the league, we're going to a bowl, we got the Bronze Boot back. I'd say that's a pretty good year for our team.

"This is the best. I took a team that was not supposed to do anything and look what they've done. It's been an unbelievable experience for me. And what great, great players I have to work with. The saddest thing is that we only have one more opportunity with these seniors because the job that they've done leading this football team has been second to none."

Two weeks ago Carta-Samuels rallied the Cowboys from 21 points down in the fourth quarter, before Watts kicked the game-winner. Despite last week's lop-sided loss to 4th-ranked TCU, Carta-Samuels said they knew that if they were close in the fourth quarter, they would win the game.

“After the last couple of ones we have been able to put together, you just get more confident," Carta-Samuels said. "Coach and I had a conversation at halftime about how we are a fourth-quarter team and when we put it together, it was exciting.”

On that game-winning drive, Carta-Samuels said they just were thinking to grind it out.

"There was so much, and I didn’t even realize it until I was watching our defense try to hold them at the end, that there was so much on the line and so much to play for," he said.

It came down to the freshman foot of Watts, who walked on late to solidify the place-kicking position.

“I am pretty much used to it by now, so that is a good thing," Watts said. "The previous two were to win the game, but if I missed it would still be tied. If I missed this one, we would lose, so this was a lot more pressure and I actually felt more nervous on this one than any other kick I’ve taken this year.”

The Wyoming defense then stopped the Rams on an interception by Ghalli Muhammad in the finals seconds.

“We had no fear," UW defensive end Mitch Unrein said. "We knew we were going to stop them. Everyone just went out there and did their job and that is how we came out victorious this afternoon.”

Then it was all about two kneel-downs by Carta-Samuels to end the game.

After a little searching, the Cowboys, in a frenzy rush, found the Bronze Boot.

“I was so excited; I was running around trying to find the Boot and the whole game I was trying to figure out where they put it," UW senior offensive right tackle Ryan Otterson. "I saw the ROTC guys standing over there, so I ran over there and it wasn’t there. I ran over to the sidelines and it wasn’t there. It was already in the middle, so I was like ‘oh man c’mon’, but I finally found it.”

The Wyoming seniors then took turns holding The Boot.

“It was awesome. I can’t really describe it," Unrein said. "We have great fans that come down and support us everywhere we go. Now we have one more game for them to come watch us . play, so it is kind of a treat for them and us.”

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