WYOMING FOOTBALL: In Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, Ohio Triumphs Over Wyoming  

Pokes fall to the Bobcats in overtime 30-27

Junior tight end Treyton Welch catches a back shoulder throw outside the endzone before falling in to score a touchdown in the Arizona Bowl. Wyoming took the lead with this 17-yard touchdown (14-8,) but ultimately fell in overtime 30-27 to the Ohio Bobcats. (Courtesy photo by University of Wyoming Athletics)

By Kaycee Clark-Mellott

Special to the Wyoming Truth

TUCSON, Ariz.—The Wyoming Cowboys’ fifth bowl game appearance in seven years was a return to the desert in the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl. Streamed live from the Barstool Sports website, the game pitted Wyoming against the Ohio Bobcats (9-4).

Ohio, a formidable opponent from the Mid-American Conference (MAC), was the runner-up in the MAC after losing to Toledo in the conference championship. But the Bobcats’ starting quarterback, Kurtis Rourke, tore his ACL against Ball State late in the season, preventing him from playing in the championship game or this bowl game.

The Cowboys were without some of their top players, too. Six players entered the transfer portal in early December, including edge rusher Oluwaseyi Omotosho, cornerback Cam Stone, wide receiver Josh Cobbs, corner Keonte Glinton and running back Joey Braasch. Running back Titus Swen also was dismissed from the team following the Fresno State game on Nov. 25, before entering the portal and then declaring for the NFL draft.

Many of these players were on the field during meaningful snaps throughout the season. Along with these transfers, there were key injuries to the Cowboys. Two other running backs, Dawaiian McNeely and D.Q. James, suffered season-ending injuries earlier in the season, leaving a massive question mark at the running back position. 

However, with over a month of practice and preparation for the bowl game, Wyoming and head coach Craig Bohl had plenty of time to figure out answers to this and other questions.

To begin the game, the Cowboys trotted out redshirt freshman Jordon Vaughn as the running back. Vaughn carried the ball for two yards, and after quarterback Andrew Peasley drove the Cowboys to the Ohio 17, Vaughn found a hole up the middle and scored a touchdown to put Wyoming up 7-0.

The Bobcats quickly responded, answering in under two minutes, aided by a 42-yard kickoff return, a Kolbey Taylor 15-yard targeting penalty which disqualified the cornerback, and a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones. Ohio threw the ball on the extra point, securing a two-point conversion and claiming the lead, 8-7.

The Cowboys’ next drive stalled out and forced a punt. However, Ohio’s Sam Wiglusz fumbled the return, resulting in a Wyoming recovery by Cole DeMarzo and setting up the Pokes at Ohio’s 17-yard line. One play later, tight end Treyton Welch caught a front corner, over the shoulder pass for the touchdown and a 14-8 Wyoming lead.

Ohio answered with a field goal after a long, 12 play drive, bringing the score to 14-11 near the beginning of the second quarter.

After the fireworks in the first quarter, much of the second was filled with slow-moving offenses and punts. Late in the half, Wyoming drove into field goal range and gave first-team All-Mountain West kicker John Hoyland a chance to extend the lead. He followed through with a 53-yard field goal, setting a new school record for the most field goals scored in a season with 21. Wyoming entered the half ahead 17-11.

The third quarter was once again a slow-moving game that included several punts. That was until Bobcat running back Sieh Bangura broke away for a 40-yard run and subsequently followed it up with a three-yard touchdown run, giving Ohio the lead 18-17.

Wyoming mustered only 16 total yards on offense in the 3rd quarter, punting hree times. Starting the fourth quarter, Peasley and the Pokes offense were set up at their own 42-yard line, some of their best starting position of the day. However, on the second play of the quarter, Peasley threw deep down the sideline, where he was picked off by cornerback Torrie Cox Jr. to once again stop Wyoming.

Ohio tacked on another field goal, extending its lead to 21-17.

With four minutes remaining, Wyoming Peasley found Welch open once again down the seam for a 31-yard catch, getting the Pokes to Ohio’s 11-yard line. Ultimately, Vaughn scored again from five yards out, snatching the lead back, 24-21.

But the Bobcats had two minutes left and drove to Wyoming’s 28-yard line before kicking a 46-yard field goal to send the game to overtime tied at 24-24.

In overtime, Wyoming began with the ball, mustering one first down and kicking another field goal to seize the lead 27-24.

As fate would have it, Ohio scored a touchdown at the back of the endzone to Tyler Foster from 10-yards out. The Bobcats beat the Cowboys 30-27.

An outstanding game for the Cowboys would ultimately result in the loss, their third straight, taking them to 7-6 on the season. 

Peasley finished the day 18/30 for 186 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Vaughn had an outstanding day in his first collegiate action, rushing for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Welch was the star catching the ball with 91 yards and the touchdown.

Defensively, linebacker Easton Gibbs totaled 10 tackles on the day, with one sack. Defensive lineman Braden Siders finished with two sacks. Kicker Hoyland extended his already-broken record to 22 field goals on the season.

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