Sunday, November 1, 2009

Utes rally late to stop Cowboys

Wyoming-Utah game stats

By Richard Anderson

For three quarters plus, the Wyoming Cowboys were right where they wanted to be. The last seven or eight minutes on Saturday was a different story.

Utah, ranked 19th in the country, scored the game’s final 19 points, including two late touchdowns, to hold off a pesky but offensively challenged Wyoming team 22-10 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Until midway trough the fourth quarter, the cowboys had the lone touchdown of the game and were holding on to a 10-9 lead. The Utes, however, kept their dominance of Wyoming in tack to remain in the hunt for the Mountain West Conference title.

"I thought our kids fought the whole way through,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “There is no quit in these kids. We battled and were in this thing until the last minutes of the game and we (gave ourselves a chance to win)."

It was a much different game for the Cowboys than in the past two years against Utah, as the Utes outscored Wyoming 90-7 in the last two meetings, including 50-0 two years ago the last time the two teams met in Salt lake City.

As could be expected, Christensen said that being close was not good enough.

"I've talked with our guys, and sticking with a top-20 team is not a moral victory,” Christensen said. “We got our tails kicked in the end. We did some things well, we made some progress, but in our program, losing is not acceptable. That's not what we are out here to do."

After being shut out 10-0 by air Force two weeks ago, the Cowboys came out of the bye week rested and with a few changes on the offensive line. In the first half, it appeared as if it would pay off as the Cowboys were able to show some life offensively, led by the passing and pass catching from freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.

The lone touchdown of the first half came on a trick play, as Carta-Samuels passed to backup QB Robert Benjamin, who passed back to Carta-Samuels, who then ran down the sidelines untouched from 30 yards for the score.

But that was about it as the Utes defensive stiffened and held the Cowboys to just 74 yards of total offense in the second half.

"We struggled a little bit in our offense,” Christensen said. “It's not a secret that when you play top-20 teams in the country and top defenses in the country week in and week out, there will be some struggles, especially when you have the youth that we have."

For the Utes, freshman Jordan Wynn passed for 82 yards and a touchdown in his college debut, replacing starter Terrance Cain in the second half to rally Utah.

Utah’s Eddie Wide also tied a school record with his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game and added a late touchdown to seal the win. Wide had 24 carries for 135 yards and a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:41 remaining.

Despite another close win at home, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said it was a real positive win for the Utes.

“The offense played well tonight,” Whittingham said. “This was the first game of the season where we didn't have any turnovers. We moved the ball well between the 20's, but we have to get points on the board. Eddie Wide played a great game tonight. He went over 100 yards for us again and that was huge. `What can you say?' He was great.”

Carta-Samuels was 19 for 30 passing for 121 yards and the Wyoming running game had just 51 yards in the contest. Brandon Stewart led the Cowboys with 28 yards on the ground.

"We're doing everything we can to try to make plays and win a football game,” Christensen said. “Our kids are working their tails off. They work extremely hard every single day to get better and they came out and battled. We had a lot of positive things in the game."

It won’t get any easier for the Cowboys, as they host BYU Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

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