SAN MARCOS, Texas – For the opening 18 minutes of Saturday night’s game at Texas State, Wyoming struggled to move the ball while the Bobcats had little trouble moving it themselves.
An interception midway through the second quarter and a pick-6 in the third were more than enough to spark the Cowboys.
Tyler Hall’s pick-6 in the third quarter led to a second half shutout as UW beat Texas State 23-14 for their sixth consecutive victory dating back to last season. The win also spoiled Jake Spavital’s home debut as Texas State coach.
“We did some things well but overall there is a lot of improvement to do,” Cowboys coach Craig Bohl said. “We were able to control the clock and move the field. We have got to throw the ball better.”
Hall was beaten on a pass in the first quarter but saw the same play in the third, and took it 72 yards for a touchdown.
“I got that same play in the first quarter, and it was about picking up tendencies throughout the game,” the senior cornerback said. “The quarterbacks didn’t throw too many shots on us on the outside. They pretty much sat it down when they were going vertical so I just trusted it. The quarterback threw it and I just made a play.”
The Bobcats (0-2) dominated most of the first half. After Hall returned the opening kickoff 52 yards, the three ensuing Cowboys drives netted just 28 total yards of offense and a missed field goal. In the half UW (2-0) was outgained 262-126.
Texas State scored on its opening drive as a 36-yard pass from Gresch Jensen to Micah Hilts put the Bobcats at the Wyoming 1. Caleb Twyford scored on the next play and it was 7-0 Texas State. Early in the second, Jensen found Jah’Marae Sheread on a 50-yard catch and run to make it 14-3 Bobcats.
UW finally got the offense going later in the second quarter thanks to the defense.
Junior free safety Braden Smith picked off Jensen at the Cowboys’ 27 and returned it into Bobcats territory. Six plays later, Sean Chambers scrambled to his right and dove in for a 7-yard touchdown to cut the Bobcat’s lead to 14-10 at halftime.
“It’s been a common theme that we start slow in the early season,” said Chambers, who passed for 103 yards and ran for 50 more. “ We can’t afford to lollygag through two quarters and expect to come out and win in the second half.
“We got the win but need to go out and attack things.”
The second half was all Cowboys. A field goal set up by a 44-yard pass completion from Chambers to sophomore wide receiver Gunner Gentry cut the deficit to a single point before Hall’s huge play.
On the next Texas State drive, Hall read Jensen’s eyes and was all-alone to pick off the pass and had nothing but artificial turf in front of him.
“We know coming in here we have young guys on the field, first away game and the defense keeping our composure no matter whether the game is going up or down. Keep your composure and continue to play,” Hall said.
Added Chambers: “The defense gave us some sparks, and they kind of leapfrog us and spring us and let us go.”
Texas State never threatened to score again as UW moved to 2-0.
“This was the game at the beginning of the year that I was most concerned about because we didn’t know a lot about (Texas State),” said Bohl. “We came up with a win. It wasn’t a convincing win but we are 2-0.”
n Wyoming winning streak is its longest since it won seven in a row in 1998. — With the win, the Cowboys lead the all-time series between the teams 3-1. Saturday’s win was the first in the series by the road team.
n UW has won three consecutive road games, which is the longest road winning streak in Bohl’s six seasons at the helm.