From the Desk of Nick Seeman
ALBUQUERQUE – Senior Nico Evans and redshirt freshman Xazavian Valladay combined for 334 rushing yards to lead the Cowboys (6-6 overall, 4-2 MW) past New Mexico, 31-3 on Saturday afternoon in Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. Wyoming is now Bowl Eligible for the third-straight season for the first time since 1997-99.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our football team today, it was a convincing win,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. “Our guys came out with great focus and we play well in all three phases of the game. I thought today was the best we have played all season.”
Senior safety Andrew Wingard finished the contest with five tackles to tie the Mountain West record of 454 career tackles. He tied New Mexico’s Carmen Messina, who played from 2008-11.
The Lobos were held to a season-low 83 yards. New Mexico rushed for a season-low 49 yards and were held to a season-low 34 yards passing. It was statically the best day for the Pokes defensively in terms of yards allowed.
Wyoming amassed 366 rushing yards on the afternoon, the second most this season following having over 400 yards against San Jose State.
“Our offensive line did a great job man on man and the rushers found the creases.” Bohl said. “We felt we had good matchups with our guys up front. Both runners did a great job. We exposed some things on their blitzes that helped.”
It was a career-high 192 rushing yards for Valladay. He also added a career-best two touchdowns. Evans rushed for 142 yards for the game along with a rushing score. It was the fourth time this season that Wyoming had two rushers each go for over 100 yards rushing, all four of which included Evans. The other three, Evans matched up with injured quarterback Sean Chambers.
Wyoming was led defensively by Logan Wilson with six tackles. Wingard added five stops including a tackle for loss on the Lobo’s first drive. Senior Carl Granderson added five solo stop and a sack. Wyoming had four sacks on the day, as they tied a season high.
The Pokes got on the board first on their opening drive of the game. Valladay found paydirt on a 21-yard touchdown for the tally. The drive saw the Pokes rush for 75-yards on six plays. Evans set up the touchdown by Valladay with a 37-yard gallop.
The Pokes added to the lead in the second quarter to make it a 14-0 contest. Once again using the rushing game, Evans found the endzone on a 30-yard rush for his eighth touchdown of the season. Wyoming drove 90 yards on 13 plays taking just under seven minutes off the clock. It was the longest scoring drive of the season in terms of yards.
The Lobos added a field goal late in the half for a 14-3 game. The field goal was set up by a dropped snap on the Cowboy punt that gave New Mexico the ball on the Wyoming 31 yard line. UNM kicker Andrew Shelley connected on the 25-yard attempt. The Poke defense held strong as the Lobos threated inside the 10-yard line.
Wyoming took the 14-3 lead into the break, as the Cowboys recorded 167 rushing yards in the first half. The defense held the Lobos to 42 yards of total offense.
Wyoming added to the lead in the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal from Cooper Rothe with five minutes left in the frame. It was his 16th field goal of the season. The points were set up by a 43-yard scamper from Valladay.
Wyoming added a touchdown in the early stages of the fourth quarter on an option run from Ayden Eberhardt to Austin Conway for 11 yards. Vander Waal set up the score with a 19-run, as the Pokes went 46 yards on six plays.
Valladay made it a 31-3 contest with his second rushing touchdown of the game with 9:24 left in the game. This time Valladay scored from 20-yards out, as the Pokes drove 65 yards on only four plays.
The Pokes finished the contest by pulling the senior defenders to a huge ovation by the Cowboy faithful that made the trip. It marked the fourth-straight win by the Cowboys, as Wyoming has scored 24 or more points in all of those games.
•The Cowboys earned bowl eligibility for the third consecutive season. The last time the Cowboys achieved bowl eligibility in three consecutive seasons was from 1997-99.
•Craig Bohl’s overall head-coaching record now stands at 132-67 (.662), and his record against conference opponents stands at 68-45 (.602).
•Nico Evans rushed for 100 yards for the seventh time in the 2018 season and for his career. The senior ran for 142 yards on Saturday. He now has 1,325 rushing yards this season.
•Xazavian Valladay rushed for a career high 192 yards, for the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. His previous high was 61 yards in the 2018 season opener against New Mexico State.
•Wide receiver Austin Conway scored the Cowboys’ third rushing touchdown of the day. It was Conway’s first rushing TD of the season and the third of his career -- he had one each in 2016 and ‘17.
•Evans scored his eighth rushing touchdown of the season and of his career in the second quarter.
•The Cowboys scored on their first drive of the game, a six-play, 75-yard drive that took 2:16. Xazavian Valladay capped off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown run.
•Wyoming’s second scoring drive was a 13-play, 90-yard scoring drive that took 6:48 off the clock and ended with a 30-yard TD run by Nico Evans.
•The Cowboys 90-yard scoring drive in the second quarter was its longest scoring drive of the season.
•The Cowboys held New Mexico to only 42 yards of total offense in the first half -- only three passing yards and 39 rushing yards.
•Tyler Hall recorded his first interception of the season and third of his career, when he intercepted the Lobos in the fourth quarter.
•Wyoming held the Lobos to only 83 yards for the fewest allowed this season.
•The three points was also the fewest allowed this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
•Junior place-kicker Cooper Rothe is now 16 of 17 (.941) in field goals this season.
•Over the past two seasons, Rothe has now made 31 of 35 field goals (88.6 percent).
•Ryan Galovich had a career long 68-yard punt, and he averaged 45.2 yards per punt.
•Cooper Rothe continued his streak of perfect PATs. He is now 28 of 28 this season.