Wyoming Wins Fun New Mexico Bowl
by Dave Congrove
December 20, 2009
Wyoming rallied from a 11-point deficit in the 4th quarter and ultimately upset 2-TD favorite Fresno State 35-28 in double overtime at the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.
The Pokes held Fresno State on downs in the 2nd extra period after freshman QB Austin Carta-Samuels had put Wyoming on top with his 3rd TD pass of the game, and second to David Leonard.
A 19-play drive at the end of regulation set up a 37-yard game-tying field goal by Ian Watts who later missed a 40-yard game-winner in the 1st overtime.
Fresno State was making its second consecutive appearance in the New Mexico Bowl after losing 40-35 to Colorado State in last year's game. Colorado State was a surprise in the Mountain West a year ago and the same can be said of Wyoming this year.
The bowl win was Wyoming's first versus anyone with a winning record in 2009.
The offensively challenged Cowboys were shut out in three games this season - Colorado, Air Force and BYU - and ranked 113th nationally in scoring with 16.3 points per game. But the achilles heal of the Bulldogs was a leaky defense that surrendered over 50 points on three occasions and entered this game ranked 97th in yards allowed.
True-to-form, Fresno State was outgained 434-359 and Wyoming used up 11:25 of the 4th quarter with two scoring possessions. The first was a relatively short 7-play, 68-yard drive that took just 3:37 off the clock and culminated in Carta-Samuels' 11-yard pass to Leonard. After the 2-point conversion pass to Greg Bolling, Wyoming had cut a 28-17 deficit to 28-25.
Fresno State's following drive ended in four plays on a fumble at the Wyoming 30-yard line and the Cowboys had the ball for 7:48 before settling for the tying field goal.
In the first overtime, Wyoming's 83rd-ranked defense stopped the Bulldogs on 4 downs from the 1-yard line. Wyoming set up a game-winning field goal attempt with three short runs by Carta-Samuels, but the 40-yard attempt missed to the left.
Fresno State finishes the season at 8-5 while dropping to 10-9 in bowl games.
Wyoming finishes Dave Christensen's first year as head coach with a 7-6 record for its first winning campaign since 2004. In the process, the Cowboys improved their bowl record to 6-6.