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Fast start leads Wyoming to 42-6 road win at Nevada

• Finish Regular Season With an 8-4 Record 

• Pokes Will be Making Their Third Consecutive Bowl Appearance for the First Time in School History

Tim Harkins
Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations,
Public Relations and Broadcasting
University of Wyoming Athletics

For the second straight week, the Wyoming Cowboys enjoyed a fast start that led to their eighth overall win of the season and their fifth Mountain West Conference victory of the year as the Cowboys secured a 42-6 road win over the Nevada Wolf Pack.  Wyoming finished the regular season 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the Mountain West.  The Cowboys will now await a bowl invitation for the sixth time in the past eight seasons and the third consecutive season.  Wyoming has never gone bowling in three successive seasons.

Nevada finished its 2023 season 2-10 overall and 2-6 in the Mountain West.

It was Wyoming’s fourth eight-win season during the Craig Bohl era and the first eight-win regular season since 2016.  The Pokes’ other two eight-win seasons under Bohl in 2017 and ‘19 included bowl victories.  Wyoming will have an opportunity to win nine games this season when they go bowling later this year.  The last time a Wyoming team won at least nine games was in 1996 when the Cowboys went 10-2 under then head coach Joe Tiller.

Wyoming enjoyed a balanced an attack in Saturday night’s win at Nevada, generating 409 yards of total offense on 244 rushing yards and 165 passing yards.  UW scored three touchdowns rushing, two passing and the defense scored a TD.  Special teams forced a fumble on the Nevada’s opening kickoff return of the second half that led to one of those touchdowns.

Cowboy quarterback Andrew Peasley entered Saturday’s game ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 32 in the nation in Points Responsible For, averaging 14.0 points per game.  He threw two more TD passes vs. Nevada and rushed for two TDs to improve his season totals to 22 passing touchdowns and 9 rushing TDs.  His 31 total touchdowns responsible for plus a two-point conversion earlier this season improved his season average to 17.1 points per game in the 11 games he has played in 2023.

Wyoming free safety Wyett Ekeler returned a 38-yard interception for a Pick Six in the second quarter.  It was Ekeler’s second interception of the season.

The UW defense also recorded a season high 6.0 sacks, led by defensive end Sabastian Harsh, who had 2.0 sacks and led Wyoming in tackles with six total tackles.

Cowboy Notes From Saturday

∙Wyoming finished off the season with two consecutive wins.

∙The Cowboys scored 42 points in each of its final two games, while holding its final two opponents to under 10 points each in a 42-6 win over Nevada and a 42-9 win over Hawai’i a week ago in Laramie.

∙The road win at Nevada was the Cowboys first road win of the 2023 season to go with a perfect 7-0 home record.

∙The 42 points scored by Wyoming in its final two games of the 2023 season were the most this season and the most that UW has scored since the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl when the Cowboys scored 52 points in a 52-38 win over Kent State.  The Pokes previous high this season was 35 in a 35-33 double overtime win over then #24 Texas Tech and a 35-26 home win over New Mexico.

The Cowboy defense held Nevada to a mere 18 total rushing yards and 201 yards of total offense, which were both season lows by a Wyoming opponent.  The previous lows were 38 rushing yards by Fresno State and 274 yards of total offense by Colorado State.

The 36-point margin of victory (42-6) for Wyoming was its largest since last week’s 33-point win over Hawai’i and prior to that a Sept. 18, 2021, win over Ball State by 33 points (45-12) in War Memorial Stadium.

The Pokes 244 rushing yards against the Wolf Pack was a season high.  UW’s previous season best was 239 rushing yards vs. New Mexico.

∙Wyoming’s 409 yards of total offense vs. Nevada was its third 400-yard game of the season.  UW had a season high 472 yards of total offense vs. Hawai’i and 433 total yards vs. New Mexico.

∙Linebacker Easton Gibbs recorded five tackles vs. Nevada.  He has 106 tackles for the 2023 season.  Gibbs now has 359 career tackles as a Cowboy to rank eighth on the Wyoming career tackle list.  The two players directly ahead of Gibbs are former Cowboy linebacker/defensive end Gabe Knapton in seventh with 368 tackles and former Wyoming safety Chris Prosinski, who is in sixth with 373 career tackles.

Quotes From Head Coach Craig Bohl

Head coach Craig Bohl was very pleased with his team’s overall performance after the game.  One area of the Cowboy team that played particularly well was the defensive line and he was asked what he thought of the D-Line’s dominant performance.

“There was no doubt that they played extremely well.  We felt like we had an advantage there but we needed to come in and play on point and that’s something at times we’ve not done on the road,” said Bohl.  “Nevada’s players played hard and they were well coached.  I thought it was one of our better performances.”

The Cowboy offense and special teams both played just as well on Saturday as did the Poke defense.

“Our team certainly was ready to play tonight,” said Bohl.  “We’ve kind of had a bugaboo on the road and all of a sudden we’re Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (between home and away games), and we wanted to set the record straight with an opportunity to close out our regular season with a road win.

“It’s special for me to see these seniors and the effort they’re giving and some of the performances by the young players, as well.”

Wyoming’s offense ended the night with 409 yards of total offense, including 244 rushing yards and 165 passing.  Bohl was proud of the way the offense controlled the game throughout.

“Andrew (Peasley) made some really nice runs, and we did some good things up front.  Anytime you can rush the ball like that, that’s a good sign.”

Bohl was also asked to comment on his team getting eight wins against a very challenging schedule that included preseason Top 25 team Texas Tech and a road game at then No. 4 ranked Texas.

“You expend so much energy on every game but those non-conference games — there was no breather there,” said Bohl.  “Then we went into conference play, and we play a real rugged conference, so coming up with eight wins is I think the most we’ve had in the regular season since 2016.  It’s a great way to end our regular season and we’re looking forward to be playing in a bowl game.”

Nevada Series Notes

∙Saturday’s meeting between the Wyoming Cowboys and Nevada Wolf Pack was the 10th in history between the two schools.

∙Wyoming now leads the overall series 6-4 and also leads in games played between the two teams since both have been members of the Mountain West Conference.  The Cowboys lead the MW series 4-2.

∙The two teams have played six times in Reno, with that portion of the series now evenly split at 3-3.

∙Wyoming’s 36-point margin of victory was its largest against Nevada.  The previous largest Wyoming margin of victory against the Wolf Pack was 28 points in 2019.  UW’s 42 points tied a series best for the Cowboys against Nevada.  The 2016 Pokes also scored 42 vs. the Wolf Pack.

First Quarter

A 43-yard touchdown run by Wyoming quarterback Peasley at the 6:32 mark of the first quarter started off the scoring.  Following the point-after-touchdown by place-kicker John Hoyland, the Pokes took a 7-0 lead.  Three minutes later, Peasley found wide receiver Will Pelissier in the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown pass.  Hoyland’s PAT made the score 14-0 in favor of the Cowboys with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter.


Second Quarter

The second quarter began with Nevada capping off a 10-play, 43-yard drive that began in the first quarter and would result in a 40-yard field goal by Nevada place-kicker Brandon Talton with 13:28 remaining in the second period to cut Wyoming’s lead to 14-3.

A little over three minutes later, the Cowboy defense came up with its first big play of the game on a thrilling 38-yard interception return for a touchdown by Cowboy free safety Wyett Ekeler.  Ekeler’s Pick Six saw him evade numerous Wolf Pack tacklers on way to the end zone.  Hoyland’s extra point extended Wyoming’s lead to 21-3.

With 2:23 remaining in the first half, Nevada went on an 11-play, 51-yard drive that concluded with Talton’s second field goal of the half — a 47-yarder.

That is how the first half would end with Wyoming leading 21-6.

The halftime stats saw Wyoming’s offense account for 190 total yards (91 rushing and 99 passing) and average 7.60 yards per play in the first half.  The Cowboy defense held Nevada to only 102 first-half yards, including only 4 rushing yards and 98 yards through the air.  The Wolf Pack were held to an average of 3.09 yards per play.

The Cowboy defense recorded 5.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss in the half, led by defensive end Harsh, with 2.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss to go with six first-half tackles.  Ekeler added four tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss to go with his 38-yard Pick Six.  Linebackers Gibbs and Shae Suiaunoa each added four tackles.  Defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole had 2.0 TFLs and 1.0 sack.  Strong safety Isaac White was credited with 1.0 TFL and 1.0 sack and defensive linemen Braden Siders and Tyce Westland each had 0.5 sack apiece.

Peasley completed 6 of 11 passes (.545) for 99 yards and one passing touchdown, while rushing for 50 yards on six carries and adding a rushing TD in the first half.  UW running back Harrison Waylee rushed 5 times for 20 yards and wide receiver Pelissier scored Wyoming’s one receiving touchdown of 34 yards.


Third Quarter

The second half began with Nevada receiving the kickoff to begin the third quarter.  Wolf Pack kick returner Jamaal Bell took the kickoff and returned it 21 yards when Cowboy wide receiver Ryan Marquez knocked the ball loose and UW fullback Caleb Driskill recovered the ball at the Nevada 25-yard line.

Wyoming running back Jamari Ferrell was tackled for a loss of six yards on first down.  Poke running back Waylee ran for 11 yards on second down.  On a third and five at the Nevada 20-yard line, Peasley threw short to Waylee for 10 yards and a first down.  Ferrell would gain one yard on the next play, and then on second and goal from the nine-yard line Peasley found wide receiver Ayir Asante in the end zone for a nine-yard TD pass.  Hoyland’s PAT made the score, Wyoming 28, Nevada 6 with 11:43 remaining in the third quarter.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Nevada began its drive at its own 25-yard line.  After gaining one first down, the Wolf Pack moved out to their own 45-yard line where they faced a fourth and one.  Nevada decided to go for it on fourth down, but Wyoming defensive linemen Cole Godbout and Westland tackled Wolf Pack quarterback Shane Illingworth for a loss of one, and the Pokes took over at the Nevada 44-yard line.

It would take Wyoming’s offense only six plays to move 44 yards for its next score after taking over on downs.  The big play on the drive would be a 23-yard run by Peasley.  Waylee would finish off the drive with a two-yard TD run, building Wyoming’s lead to 35-6 with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter.

The Wolf Pack would put together one of its best drives of the night on its next possession.  Running back Sean Dollars would gain 11 yards on second down and 10 to begin the drive.  Quarterback Illingworth would then connect with wide receiver Spencer Curtis on back-to-back completions of 19 and 28 yards, moving the ball to the Wyoming 17-yard line.  Wyoming’s defense would once again step up.  Cowboy defensive end Siders sacked Illingworth for a one-yard loss on first down back to the 18.  Following two successive incomplete passes, Nevada again faced a fourth down — this time a fourth and 11.  The Cowboy defense forced a third consecutive incomplete pass and the Cowboys took over on downs at their own 18-yard line.

UW running back Farrell would rush four times for seven yards, combined with a nine-yard run by Waylee and two pass completions of 12 and 19 yards from Peasley to wide receiver Wyatt Wieland to move the ball down to the Nevada 35-yard line as the third quarter would come to an end with Wyoming leading 35-6.  The Cowboys accounted for 303 yards of total offense through the end of three periods,including 147 rushing yards and 156 passing, while holding Nevada to 178 total yards — only 24 rushing and 154 passing.

Wyoming Football games are carried in Western Wyoming by The Spur!

Fourth Quarter

Peasley began the fourth quarter with a nine-yard pass to Waylee to the Nevada 26-yard line.  Ferrell gained three yards on UW’s next play to the Wolf Pack 23.  Peasley then took the ball himself on a run to the left for 20 yards, down to the three-yard line.  Peasley would finish off the drive with a three-yard TD run on the following play — his second rushing touchdown of the game.  Hoyland’s kick made the score 42-6 in favor of the Pokes.  The touchdown run improved Peasley’s rushing total to 96 yards on nine carries to lead the Cowboys.

Up Next

Wyoming’s win over Nevada concluded the regular season for Wyoming, with an 8-4 overall record and a 5-3 Mountain West Conference mark.  The Cowboys will now wait until bowl invitations are extended.


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