Cowboys Start Strong, Rally Late For Road Win at Northern Illinois

photo courtesy of University of Wyoming athletics department

by Keith Kelley–11 Sep ’21

A week ago, Wyoming trailed Montana State most of the game, but rallied in the fourth quarter for a hard-fought, low-scoring win. This (Saturday) afternoon, the Cowboys started strong, built a big lead, but still had to rally for a high-scoring, 50-43 victory at Northern Illinois.

Wyoming led the Huskies 42-16, after wide receiver Isaiah Neyor’s third touchdown of the game. But after a failed fourth down conversion, deep in NIU terrioty, the Huskies grabbed the momentum. Northern Illinois would score 27 straight points, and took a 43-42 lead with just under five minutes to play. That’s when Sean Chambers took control, again. He directed the Pokes down the field, and would score the game-winner from nine yards out.

“I think he’s maturing as a quarterback,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “He’s learning how to get us in and out of plays. Certainly his legs are very effective, but so many of the other throws were good. Obviously the throw to Isaiah (Neyor) was a big time throw. He’s certainly the leader of our football team, and guys rally around him. We’ll need for him to play better, but he did make improvement from (week) one to (week) two.”

Chambers finished the game 13-23 for 204 yards and two TD’s, both of those to Neyor–who also rushed for a score, and had the two-point conversion that got the Cowboys to 50 points. Neyor caught four balls for 87 yards, and rushed two times for 13 yards.

“I’m always a confident guy, but that really got my confidence up,” said Neyor following his first touchdown catch. “Just knowing that I can go out there and make plays like that. That definitely set the tone for me for the entire season. Knowing what I can do now that this game has happened, I’m really excited.”

Wyoming jumped out from the get-go, as they scored on their first two drives–a 22 yard run by Titus Swen, and Neyor’s 33 yard TD grab. The Cowboys led 28-10 at the half, and were in complete control of the game, thanks in part to a dominant running game.

“Coach (Tim) Polasek had a plan, and he knew that once we got something going, we’re going to take a shot, and we did,” said Chambers. “Isaiah, there again, running underneath it for a toucdown. So the running game did a big job of opening things up and letting us throw the ball today.”

Wyoming’s defense gave up 477 yards, very uncharacteristic for this group. That included 244 yards on the ground. There were a number of missed tackles, especially late in the game, that led to the big comeback by the Huskies, and that’s a bit of concern for the Cowboy “D”.

“I think it was really concerning when we were out there, but we just kept encouraging guys to go out there and do what we can do best,” said linebacker Chad Muma, who had ten tackles and a pick-six. “That’s not our Cowboy defense, really in the end. So we’re going to get it corrected this week, look through film, and see what we can do better. I think there’s a lot of things that we had missed opportunities on, that really should have just shut it down, so through this week, we’ll get it back.”

Running back Xazavian Valladay rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown, while Swen added 54 yards on the ground. Wyoming safety Rome Weber picked off a pass as well.

Wyoming improves to 2-0 on the year, and they will host Ball State next Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.