Wyoming Defense Strong in Shutout of Gardner-Webb

photo courtesy of UW Athletics Department

by staff–10 Sep ’17

The Wyoming Cowboys (1-1) scored on their first two drives of the game and won their eighth home game in their last nine home contests, defeating Gardner-Webb (0-2) by a final score of 27-0 in Wyoming’s 2017 home opener on Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. Wyoming’s shutout was the first since shutting out Colorado State 44-0 on Nov. 20, 2010, in Laramie.

“I thought that it was going to be important that we start the game strong and fast, which we did,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said. “Great energy by our defense, kicking game was solid and the passing game was effective. We moved down the field and put up some numbers, which was encouraging. There is no doubt our defense kept fighting, tackling and pursuing the football.”

The Cowboys outgained the Runnin’ Bulldogs with 393 total yards to 195. With their 24-0 halftime lead, the Cowboys shut out an opponent in the first half for the first time since Sept. 14, 2013 against Northern Colorado, when they led 21-0 at half. The first-half shutout marked the first time Wyoming shut out an opponent in either half since shutting out Colorado State in the second half of a 38-17 win on Oct. 1, 2016.

“Getting a shutout is hard to do and hasn’t been done here since 2010,” Bohl said. “Kuddos to those guys. Some good things on offense, Austin Conway, showed up on the receiving end and special teams. Don’t know Josh’s (Allen) numbers, but I thought in the first half he put the ball where we wanted it, stretched the field. Now there are things for us to work on no doubt as we move forward. We have to take a critical look at this team.”

Wyoming outgained Gardner-Webb 161-13 in the first quarter, 297-77 in the first half. Junior quarterback Josh Allen completed 10 of 12 passes for 142 yards and a TD in the first quarter. For the game, he completed 22 of 32 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns.

“Josh (Allen) does a great job of getting our receivers the ball quick so they can do great things,” Bohl said. “When he does get the ball out quick, we have to do a good job catching the ball and making a play after the catch. We have to execute the game plan that’s why we practice every single week. We did a great job as a unit today and it showed.”

Sophomore Austin Conway amassed seven receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. His 34-yard catch-and-run to the end zone marked the first receiving touchdown of his career. Conway’s game totals of 11 catches for 135 yards are both single-game career highs.

Allen found sophomore C.J. Johnson on completions of 47 and 29 yards in the second quarter, the 29-yarder going for a touchdown. Johnson’s 110 yards in the first half set a new single-game career high for him. He finished the game with six catches for 130 yards.

Junior defensive end Kevin Prosser recorded a sack in the first quarter, giving him a sack in six of his last 10 games dating back to last season. He had two total tackles for loss in the first quarter. Prosser added another sack in the third quarter, giving him a new career high for sacks in a game. Prosser recorded nine total tackles and five solo tackles, both career single-game highs. He had three tackles for loss.

Sophomore defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan recorded two tackles for loss in the first half. He ended the game with seven total tackles.

Wyoming limited Gardner-Webb quarterback Tyrell Maxwell to two completions on seven pass attempts for 22 yards. Wyoming has limited both of its 2017 opponents to less than 10 completions.

Allen led the Pokes on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on UW’s first possession of the game. Allen and Conway connected on five completions of 11, 11, 7, 10 and 8 yards on the opening possession. Redshirt sophomore running back Kellen Overstreet capped off the drive with a one-yard TD run. Sophomore place-kicker Cooper Rothe converted the extra point to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead with 9:55 to play in the first quarter.

On the second drive of the game, Allen hit Conway on a 34-yard completion, followed by an 11-yard strike from Allen to Johnson and the drive concluded with a 27-yard TD pass from Allen to Conway. It was the first touchdown reception of Conway’s career.

The second quarter saw Wyoming score on two of its three possessions. Rothe hit a 28-yard field goal to end a seven-play, 69-yard drive, giving the Cowboys a 17-0 lead.

Wyoming’s final scoring drive of the second quarter was set up by a 45-yard punt return by Conway, giving the Pokes the ball at the 37-yard line. After an eight-yard catch by sophomore John Okwoli, Allen stepped up in the pocket and threw a strike to Johnson for 29 yards for a UW touchdown to make it 24-0 heading into the half.

A heavy ground attack by both teams was featured in the second half. An 18-play, 70-yard drive lasting 9:31 by the Runnin’ Bulldogs gave them their first scoring chance of the contest. The drive was stalled on a fourth-down stop by the Pokes.

The Cowboys added another field goal by Rothe from 29 yards out with 1:52 remaining. The field goal was setup on an interception by junior safety Andrew Wingard, the fourth of his career.

The Cowboys are back home next Saturday hosting Oregon at War Memorial Stadium for a 5 p.m. kick.