by Keith Kelley–30 Aug ’14
Behind a good defense and powerful running game, the Wyoming Cowboys opened up the Craig Bohl ere just the way they wanted to. It was a far cry from the past five years in Laramie, as fans witnessed a ball control offense and a ball-hawking defense in a 17-12 win over FCS member Montana Saturday afternoon. The only thing that remained the same from last year, were the weather delays. The Cowboys faced four of them last year, and against the Grizz, two lightning delays forced the game into the early evening hours.
Wyoming nearly had two running backs run for 100 yards, as junior Shaun Wick led the way with 134 yards rushing and a touchdown, while redshirt sophomore D.J. May rumbled for 96 yards, including a 58 yard TD run that gave Wyoming a 17-6 advantage in the third quarter. May, who missed all of last season with a pectoral injury, said that the Cowboy offense could tell that the Grizzlies were starting to get tired in the second half, and the Cowboys offense took advantage.
Montana wasn’t an easy opener for Wyoming. After it appeared that Wyoming was going to take control early in the game with the run game, the Grizzlies defense stiffened, forcing some turnovers and clamping down on that ground attack, to take a 6-3 lead into the locker room. After an extended halftime due to lightning in the area, Wyoming would put up 14 points in the third quarter. Cowboy head coach Craig Bohl said they played just the way they wanted to, with a punishing ground attack and solid defense. And Bohl says the defense deserves a lot of credit for slowing down a talented Montana offense.
Down 6-3 at the half would’ve been bad news for the Pokes the last few years. It seemed as if the Cowboys didn’t make the necessary adjustments in the second half to win games. But with a new staff, that just wasn’t the case, as Wyoming was the aggressor in the second half, something that defensive end Eddie Yarbrough says is a welcome change.
Montana threatened late in the game, as QB Jordan Johnson connected with Mike Ralston for a score, to make it 17-12 Pokes with 8:20 left to play. The Grizzlies would fail on a two-point conversion. After the two teams traded punts, the Cowboys would melt down the clock with that run game, to come away with the win, and Bohl credits the Cowboys ability to play the way they were supposed to on both sides of the ball to wear the Grizzlies down.
Cowboy quarterback Colby Kirkegaard didn’t have a great game, completing 13-21 passes for just 92 yards and an interception.
Defensively, Wyoming linebacker Mark Nzeocha was a monster, with 12 tackles, including a sack. Fellow linebacker Deyvn Harris had eight tackles, including two for losses. Defensive lineman Patrick Mertens also had eight tackles, 1 1/2 for loss, as the Pokes held Montana to 253 yards of total offense, and just 42 on the ground.
Wyoming (1-0) will host Air Force next Saturday night, September 6. Kickoff at War Memorial Stadium is set for 8:15 pm.
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