This week’s “Cowboy Classics” to feature Cowboy’s win over Missouri

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Wyo4News staff, [email protected]

LARAMIE, WYOMING (October 9, 2020) — The 2019 season opener for the Wyoming Cowboys was a much-anticipated home game as Southeastern Conference (SEC) member Missouri came to Laramie.

It would mark only the second time in history that an SEC team would play in Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium. What would make it a more memorable day for Wyoming fans was the way the Cowboys would perform in capturing an impressive 37-31 victory to begin the season.

Cowboy football fans can re-live the 2019 win over Missouri this Saturday, Oct. 10 at 1 p.m., M.T. when the radio call of the game will be re-broadcast on Cowboy Sports Network affiliate stations. Fans unable to access the radio re-broadcasts on a Cowboy Sports Network affiliate may listen to the broadcast by clicking on the link that accompanies this story on the Wyoming Football page at GoWyo.com.

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It was a beautiful day on Aug. 31 with the temperature at kickoff 78 degrees. A packed house of 26,037 fans came out for the game. Missouri won the toss and deferred to the second half. Wyoming took the ball but was unable to get a first down on its first series.  Missouri took over at its own 35-yard line following a Wyoming punt  First-year transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant, who had come to Missouri from Clemson, took the field for his first snap for the Tigers.

Bryant and running back Larry Rountree would fuel a 12-play, 65-yard drive for Missouri as they would score on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead. On Wyoming’s second possession, the Pokes again were held to a three-and-out series. After Wyoming’s punt, the Tigers took over at their own 26-yard line. Missouri would put together another sustained drive of 11 plays for 74 yards resulting in its second touchdown in two consecutive drives to build a 14-0 lead. That is how the first quarter would end.

But the fast start by the Tigers didn’t discourage the Cowboys. Wyoming would put together a methodical, 12-play, 53-yard drive of its own to start the second quarter, ending with a 19-yard field goal by senior place-kicker Cooper Rothe. It wouldn’t take the Cowboys long to score again when on Missouri’s next possession junior safety Esaias Gandy would knock the ball loose from Missouri quarterback Bryant and sophomore cornerback C.J. Coldon would pick up the fumble and turn it into a 30-yard, scoop-and-score touchdown to pull the Cowboys to with four at 10-14.

UW’s defense forced Missouri into a three-and-out series on its next possession. On Wyoming’s second play of the ensuing possession, sophomore running back Xazavian Valladay burst through the middle of the line and pulled away from the Missouri defenders for a 61-yard TD run, giving UW its first lead of the game at 17-14. Missouri would come back to tie the game at 17-17 on its following drive, concluding with a 22-yard field goal for the Tigers.  But the tie would only last for one play. On Wyoming’s first play from scrimmage on its next series Cowboy redshirt freshman QB Sean Chambers would break through the left side of the Tiger defense and with a stiff arm that Cowboy fans will remember for years Chambers broke a tackle and sprinted 75 yards for a TD to regain the lead for the Pokes, 24-17. Missouri looked like they would tie up the game right before halftime as they drove 66 yards down to the Wyoming one-yard line.

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On a third-and-goal from the Wyoming one, Cowboy senior linebacker Ben Wisdorf would knock the ball loose from MU running back Larry Rountree.  Wyoming senior strong safety Alijah Halliburton picked up the fumble at the Wyoming nine-yard line and made a dash down the sideline as time was expiring in the first half.  Tiger quarterback Bryant tackled Halliburton at the Missouri 12-yard line after a 79-yard run by Halliburton.

It looked like the first half would expire, but a personal foul penalty on Bryant moved the ball half the distance to the goal line at the six-yard line. While there was no time left on the clock, because of the penalty Wyoming earned one more un-timed down and place-kicker Rothe came on the field to kick a 23-yard field goal and extend Wyoming’s lead to 27-17. For the Cowboys, they scored all five times they possessed the ball in the second quarter, forced two key fumbles and out-scored the Tigers 27-3 in the quarter.

Missouri took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 58 yards in 14 plays, but on a third and goal from the Wyoming 17-yard line Bryant threw a pass to the end zone and Wyoming senior linebacker Cassh Maluia intercepted the pass to end the drive and give the Cowboy defense its third forced turnover of the day. Wyoming’s offense would continue its momentum driving 80 yards in 11 plays capped off by a one-yard TD run from graduate transfer running back Trey Smith to give the Cowboys their largest lead of the day at 34-17 with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter.  UW would shutout the Tigers in the third quarter and so UW carried its 17-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter began with a big 43-yard punt return by Missouri’s Richaud Floyd, taking the ball down to the Wyoming 29-yard line.  Four plays later, running back Tyler Badie carried the ball in from the one-yard line to cut Wyoming’s lead to 10 points at 34-24.  Both teams’ defenses forced three-and-out series on the next two possessions.  On Wyoming’s third series of the fourth quarter, the Pokes put together a 39-yard drive with the big play being a 26-yard pass from Chambers to senior wide receiver Raghib Ismail Jr.  That drive ended with Rothe’s third field goal of the day, this one from 20 yards, to give Wyoming a 13-point lead (37-24) with only 7:01 remaining in the game.

Missouri wasn’t done, however, the Tigers responded with a quick three-play drive that was capped off by their longest play of the game — a 53-yard TD pass from Bryant to wide receiver Jonathan Nance and all of a sudden the Tigers were within six points at 37-31.  Wyoming’s offense  was able to run exactly four minutes off the clock, taking the clock down to 2:19 before having to punt the ball back to Missouri for one final possession.  The Tigers started their final drive at their own 25-yard line and they would move the ball all the way down to the Wyoming 20-yard line.

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On a second and six from the UW 20, Cowboy senior defensive end Josiah Hall sacked Bryant back at the 26-yard line, forcing a third down and 12.  Bryant threw an incomplete pass on third down and now it came down to fourth and 12 from the 26.

The Cowboy defense needed one more play to seal the win, and the Cowboys came through as Bryant’s final pass fell incomplete, and Wyoming had kicked off its 2019 season with a huge 37-31 win over an SEC opponent.

The Cowboys would use that season-opening win to go on to achieve an 8-5 season and a NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl Championship.

Offensively, Wyoming’s Chambers and Valladay each rushed for over 100 yards on the day.  Chambers had 120 yards on 12 carries and Valladay had 118 rushing yards on 15 carries, and the offense did not commit a single turnover.

Defensively, three Cowboys concluded the game with double-figure tackles. Halliburton led the way with 17 total tackles, senior linebacker Logan Wilson had 13 and sophomore linebacker Chad Muma added 10. The Cowboys forced three Missouri turnovers, scored one touchdown, had five tackles for loss and two sacks.

Each Saturday’s re-broadcast will feature a pre-game segment with the Cowboy Sports Network’s radio broadcast team of Dave Walsh and Kevin McKinney reminiscing about the game followed by the original broadcast of the game and the original postgame interviews conducted the day of the game. Walsh and McKinney will also have some closing comments at the end of each broadcast.

Cowboy Football Classics Schedule on the Cowboy Sports Network

Oct. 10            2019 win over Missouri, 37-31

Oct. 17            2019 win over Georgia State in Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, 38-17

All games to be broadcast at 1 p.m., Mountain Time

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