BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Wyoming Cowboys may have set a new standard.
They began the season with the goal to force two turnovers in every game.
On Saturday, UW intercepted two passes, recovered three fumbles on defense and fell on another that came on a muffed kickoff return to lead the Cowboys to a 28-27 victory at Bowling Green.
“Turnovers and blocked kicks, that was really big — that’s pretty much [what] won the game for us this week,” said true freshman cornerback Blair Burns, who picked off both passes and fell on the muffed kick.
To begin, the turnovers basically kept the Pokes in the game.
They were already trailing 7-0 when the Falcons had marched inside the five-yard line, seemingly on their way to another score.
Instead, Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz couldn’t complete a handoff, and UW safety Luke Ruff fell on the loose ball.
On the Falcons’ very next drive, they drove 27 yards to just outside the red zone, but Schilz’s pass into UW’s zone defense fell into the arms of Burns, who returned it 65 yards and set up the Pokes’ first touchdown.
“Those were huge, because they were going on scoring drives,” UW coach Dave Christensen said. “If those are three [points], obviously three would’ve been enough for them, one of them.
“They’re crucial; they’re key. You can’t get enough takeaways.”
The Pokes certainly couldn’t seem to get enough of them on Saturday as they opened the second half with two of them.
After scoring to tie the game 14-14, Burns recovered the ensuing kickoff.
“He’s cold,” sophomore cornerback Marqueston Huff said. “He surprised me. I knew he was real good, but I didn’t expect him to be that good.”
It was Huff’s turn next.
On just the second play of Bowling Green’s very next drive, lineman Ben Durbin and linebacker Brian Hendricks forced another fumble and Huff picked it up and ran it eight yards for a touchdown.
“These coaches put us in position to make plays, and we’ve just got to make the plays,” said Durbin, who also blocked a field goal on the Falcons’ next drive.
It nearly became a comedy of errors as the Pokes snared the ball again to start the fourth quarter.
Senior end Josh Biezuns broke free in on Schilz, sacking him, stripping the ball and hanging onto it all in one motion.
“I don’t know if they’ve played a team that’s went after balls like we have,” Christensen said. “The last two weeks now, we’re starting to get after the ball.”
The defense has now forced eight turnovers in the past two games, and the Pokes now have two on the season from their Special Forces units.
That goal of two per game may be too low.
“If we get a turnover, we want two more than that,” senior tackle Gabe Knapton said. “You’ve got to do it all game long.”