In a game that many predicted to be low scoring and evenly match, the University of Wyoming Cowboys football team were able to pull off a defeat against the Central Michigan University Chippewas by a score of 37-14.
Wyoming faced CMU on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl located at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
Wyoming would end up forcing eight turnovers in the game setting a new school record. Offensively Wyoming accumulated 275 total yards of offense. Quarterback Josh Allen would go 11-19 passing gaining 154 yards. As a team, Wyoming would rush for 121 yards. The Cowboys were led by running back Kellen Overstreet who gained 85 yards on 21 attempts.
Following the game, Allen said, “I have got to commend the defensive side of the ball because they did a fantastic job of getting the ball back.”
Defensively Wyoming filled up the stat sheet. Middle linebacker Logan Wilson accounted for 9 solo tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. Carl Granderson added a sack along with a fumble recovery that he took for a touchdown. Other interceptions were by Andrew Wingard, Tyler Hall and Marcus Epps. Wyoming forced five other fumbles besides the one forced by Wilson. These were forced by Youhanna Ghaifan, Garrett Crall, Andrew Wingard, Nela Lolohea and Tim Kamana. Four of these fumbles were recovered by Granderson, Sidney Malauulu, Jalen Ortiz and Marcus Epps. Ghaifan and Lolohea also had two sacks each in the game.
Granderson said, “We like to just go out there and work as a team on defense.”
Ghaifan said, “This defense is special, we all do our jobs, and we do it exceptionally well. As you can see the results we are successful.”
Central Michigan was only able to gain 18 yards rushing on the day. Johnathan Ward led CMU with 37 yards on 12 attempts. CMU lost 35 yards of rushing from quarterback Shane Morris being sacked. Morris was able to gain 329 yards through the air on 23-39 passing but he accounted for two fumbles and four interceptions.
Wyoming won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to begin the game.
On their opening drive, Wyoming went three and out after two runs for no gain by Trey Woods and an incomplete pass by Josh Allen. Tim Zaleski’s punt was downed on the CMU 7 yard-line.
CMU started its opening drive deep in its own territory. Johnathan Ward rushed the ball for 13 yards to get them outside of the showdown of the goal post. Pass interference on Tyler Conklin CMU pushed the Central Michigan team back to the 9 yard-line. Cowboys would force a punt. A short punt by Jack Sheldon went out on the CMU 46 yard-line. Wyoming started in good field position.
Wyoming’s second drive would prove more successful. After an 11-yard rush by Kellen Overstreet, Allen would throw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jared Scott. Cooper Rothe would make the PAT.
On the following, CMU quarterback Shane Morris completed a pass for 11 yards to Mark Chapman but on the next play Wyoming’s Nela Lolohea stripped and sacked Morris. Defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu recovered the ball for the Cowboys. Wyoming would take over on the CMU 24.
Five plays later and Allen would scramble to the left and find Austin Conway for an 11-yard touchdown. Rothe would make the PAT increasing the Wyoming lead to 14-0.
Central Michigan responded on the following drive with a quick touchdown of their own. On a busted coverage, Morris would complete a 74-yard pass to running back Johnathan Ward for a touchdown. This would make the score 14-7 in favor of Wyoming.
Wyoming would answer with a touchdown of their own thanks to a pass from Allen to C.J. Johnson for 45 yards. Rothe would make the PAT. The score was brought to 21-7.
Wyoming’s 21 points set a Potato Bowl record for most points scored by a single team in the first quarter of play.
Disaster struck CMU again as Logan Wilson forced a fumble that Marcus Epps would recover. Wyoming took over at the CMU 18 yard-line.
Drew Van Maanen ended the first quarter with a 5-yard run.
Wyoming would be unable to move the ball but Rothe was able to make a 27-yard field goal increasing the Cowboy lead to 24-7.
CMU would be faced with a fourth and short on their own 34 yard-line. They would convert on fourth down but would be unable to move the ball any farther and Wyoming would get the ball back on their own 27 yard line following a return by Conway.
Wyoming would move the ball to their 42 yard-line but would be forced to punt. Van Maanen tackled the returner on the 18, but an illegal block in the back started the CMU offense on their own 9 yard line.
On the drive, Morris would be intercepted by Andrew Wingard. Wyoming would start on the CMU 28. Wyoming would not be able to get in the end zone but Rothe would make a 28-yard field goal. Bring the score to 27-7.
CMU would get close to midfield following a penalty on Wyoming. Illegal receiver downfield pushed Central Michigan back. Defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan would tip Morris’s pass and Wilson would come up with the interception. Wyoming would take over on the CMU 47.
Following a run by Overstreet, Allen would complete a 14-yard pass to Johnson.
Johnson would leave the game with an injury. Following the game, it was reported it is a possible ACL tear but Johnson will have an MRI done to find out the full extent of the injury.
Allen would be sacked for a 10-yard loss and the Cowboys would no longer be in field goal range. The Wyoming punt was fair caught on the 11 yard-line.
Morris would throw an incomplete pass and then Ward would be tackled after a two-yard gain. This would end the half with Wyoming leading CMU 27-7. Central Michigan would not take a snap from scrimmage inside of Wyoming Territory for the whole half.
At halftime, Allen was 8-13 for 122 yards and three touchdowns. Wyoming rushed for 72 yards in the first half bringing their total offensive production to 194 yards.
Central Michigan would gain 129 yards offensively, 74 of which were from one play. CMU only rushed for 9 yards in the half and had four turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions.
Wyoming would kick the ball off to start the second half, starting Central Michigan with the ball.
CMU was able to get past midfield and looked like they were putting a drive together. When faced with a third and short Morris misfired and his pass was intercepted by Tyler Hall. Wyoming would take over on their own 36.
Wyoming would move the ball to the CMU 35 yard-line. Allen was sacked, but a taunting penalty on CMU moved Wyoming to the 25 yard-line. On the following play, Overstreet would reverse field and break open a 20-yard run that went to the 5 yard-line, setting up first and goal. Wyoming would not be able to get in the end zone. Rothe would make a 20-yard field goal.
Following the kickoff going out of bounds, CMU would start on the 35 yard-line. Morris would quickly get CMU into Wyoming territory with an 18-yard pass to Conklin. Morris would complete a pass to Willis for 30 yards to put CMU on the Wyoming 3 yard-line. Two plays later Ward scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown. The score now would be 30-14.
Wyoming would move the ball up to midfield but while trying to run for the first down Allen would trip on the turf and bring up fourth down. This would end the third quarter.
Wyoming started off the fourth quarter by downing the punt on the 10 yard-line.
CMU looked like they would go three and out on the drive but a holding on Wingard gave CMU a first down on the 28 yard-line. CMU would be faced with a third down but Morris would find a wide open Chapman deep down field for a 43-yard completion. On third down, Ghaifan stripped and sacked Morris. Defensive end Carl Granderson comes in and scoops up the ball and takes it 58 yards for a touchdown. Rothe makes the PAT bringing the score to 37-14.
After the game, Granderson said, “I looked at the scoreboard and looked at the big screen and looked that nobody was around so I had to just take it to the house.”
On the following drive, Morris would complete a pass to Conklin for 31 yards. The drive would stall due to a sack by Granderson.
Wyoming would start with the ball on the 22 yard line following a 7-yard return by Donte Crow.
Wyoming would be unable to move the ball and Zalenski would punt the ball away.
CMU was not able to move the ball but with time running out they decided to go for it on fourth down. Morris completed the pass to Conklin for 18 yards and a first down. Morris would overthrow his receiver and Epps intercepted the ball bringing CMU turnover to 7. With the interception, Wyoming sets a new Famous Idaho Potato bowl record for most forced turnovers.
Wyoming would go three and out leading to a punt.
CMU put in their backup quarterback Tony Poljan to end the game. Poljan fumbled the ball making it 8 turnovers for the Wyoming defense.
Allen handed the ball off on the first play of the drive. Nick Smith replaced Allen, who would come off the field to a standing ovation from the Wyoming fans. Wyoming would run out the clock ending the game with a 37-14 victory.
Following the Bowl Game Josh Allen was named MVP of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Game and he also declared for the 2018 Draft.
Wyoming snaps a two-game losing streak and ends CMU’s five-game win streak. Both teams finish the year 8-5.
As Wyoming heads into the offseason, the main question to answer is who will fill the big shoes Josh Allen will leave behind. A bright spot heading into the offseason is that the defense returns a majority of their starters, including the two leading tacklers Logan Wilson and Andrew Wingard.