Wyoming vs. Fresno State: Through the Team’s Eyes

Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 12:05 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - With the Wyoming football team’s electric start to 2023, their game against Fresno State was crucial for their goal of capturing a Mountain West title. It wasn’t perfect, but the Cowboys exorcised their demons against the Bulldogs.

”It’s always a goal to beat teams I’ve never beat. I’ve never beat Fresno. No one here has beat Fresno,” defensive tackle Cole Godbout said.

“Really we had a big chip on our shoulder from last year. You know, losing 30-0. And we just really had a lot of fuel in our tank, and we really wanted to just put them out early,” linebacker Shae Suiaunoa said.

Throughout the Craig Bohl era at Wyoming, Fresno State has been the Cowboys’ kryptonite. Entering their week six game against the 24th ranked Bulldogs, the Pokes were shut out in the past two meetings, winless in the previous four, and searching for their first victory in the series since 2014. Wide receiver Wyatt Wieland began to flip the script with the program’s first TD against Fresno in six years.

“We definitely knew that we had not scored on them in our last two meetings-- and I think even going back to like my freshman year-- we only kicked field goals. So it’s been awhile since we scored touchdowns on them, and I guarantee you we all knew that and it was something we were looking to change,” Wieland said.

The score gave Wyoming a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter after kicker John Hoyland nailed a field goal in the first, but the following drive the Bulldogs responded with seven points of their own. Wieland made sure their momentum didn’t last long with his second trip to pay dirt.

“When he puts one foot in front of the other every single day-- this is his sixth year now. To be able to see him stick around too, be a ‘Cowboy Tough’ football player for six years now... I mean it’s guys like him that embody ‘Cowboy Tough’ football, and stick around, and want to get that two percent better every day,” tight end Treyton Welch said. “No matter what the outside world says, no matter what the outside noise says. Wyatt’s a guy that embodies ‘Cowboy Tough’ football, so it’s been awesome to see him succeed. I mean he’s been succeeding for six years, but to be able to see statistic wise you know. He kills it every day in practice, so it’s nothing new for us to see.”

Welch himself tacked on another score for quarterback Andrew Peasley’s third passing touchdown of the first half.

“I felt like I had five seconds to throw the ball. You know, I was seeing the field really well. We had a really good plan for Fresno and their defense. Just coming off of last year you know they kind of got us on some blitzes, so we had all these looks dialed up. They brought some of it, and then they did a lot of bail zones too and we had a plan for that too. So I think we executed really well, guys were flying around,” Peasley said.

“That was as good as what I’ve seen Andrew throw the ball,” head coach Craig Bohl said. “You know the throw he had to Wyatt on the touchdown-- it was a laser ball and Wyatt got hit. I thought the throw to Treyton was excellent, and we were protecting well.”

The Pokes entered halftime with a 24-7 lead. However, the game was far from over.

“During the second half we stayed with the same idea, and I thought Fresno did a nice job adjusting. We got a little bit complacent. It wasn’t like we were saying ‘ok, we’re just going to milk the clock,’ and get conservative. I mean we came out, we threw a bootleg, and we were throwing the football. We just were not converting like we were [in the first half],” Bohl said.

With the Wyoming offense stalling, the Bulldogs put together a couple of lengthy drives into Cowboys territory. The defense made clutch plays to limit them to two field goals, but Fresno still had a trick up their sleeve.

“When I saw the onside kick I was like ‘wow, whoa.’ Because I go ‘ok, [Fresno HC] Jeff [Tedford]’s doing-- they’re going to kick a field goal here, ok.’ Then onside kick, and then they get it. You know that’s college football,” Bohl said.

Following the recovery, Fresno marched their way to a touchdown to make the score 24-19. The Pokes responded by putting together their most complete drive of the half; with less than two minutes left, they had a chance to build their lead to a comfortable eight points.

“Well when [Hoyland] went out there, I was like ‘well he’s going to make this.’ Because he always does. Then he has that rare miss, and it makes you appreciate just how good he is,” Wieland said. “He’s the best kicker in the nation, and our defense just had to make a play for us at the end.”

Godbout did.

“I’ve been waiting like five years for that pick, so it felt real good to finally get one. I don’t think-- I think my last pick was like sophomore year of high school, so it felt great to get that. I wish I could’ve scored, but I’m not that fast,” Godbout said.

“We knew that if we want to get to the point we want to be this season, we were going to have to go out and get one against these guys,” linebacker Easton Gibbs said. “I mean last week everybody kind of had their doubts after we let New Mexico climb back in, and you know we really attacked practice last week. Kind of got back on track, and I think it just shows our togetherness in our team. You know, unwavered. When we were down, the offense would pick us up, and when the offense was down, we’d pick them up. I think that’s how good teams operate, and you know we all have full trust in one another. So we’re excited.”