LARAMIE — Leading up to Wyoming’s game against San Jose State, Sean Chambers couldn’t help but acknowledge the stark difference between the weather he usually experiences back home and the wintry mix he was practicing in at War Memorial Stadium.
“It’s not California,” Wyoming’s quarterback said Tuesday with snow falling around him.
The Kearney, California, native had to deal with it again at times against the Spartans, but it hardly slowed the true freshman and the rest of Wyoming’s offense down.
Chambers accounted for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Cowboys grinded out a 24-9 win over SJSU on Saturday. With moderate snow falling amid a 34-degree day that felt cooler than that with wind blowing at more than 30 miles per hour, Wyoming (4-6, 2-4 Mountain West) rode the legs of Chambers and running back Nico Evans to its first winning streak of the season. The Cowboys churned out a season-high 424 rushing yards.
“It was classic Laramie weather,” Evans said. “Sunshine for two seconds. Some snow for a while. Then no snow. Some wind. We don’t really care about the elements because we just want to go run the ball.”
Evans had his sixth 100-yard game of the season before halftime and finished with 187 on 33 carries, including a 46-yard touchdown run, to become the 10th player in program history to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season. Chambers ran for 129 yards on 17 carries, making for the third straight game he and Evans have hit the 100-yard mark on the ground since Chambers took over at quarterback for Tyler Vander Waal.
Chambers picked up a large chunk of that on his longest run of the season — a 64-yard touchdown that gave Wyoming a 17-3 lead midway through the third quarter. Wyoming ran it on 64 on its 72 snaps with Jevon Bigelow and receiver Austin Conway combining to chip in 94 yards on the ground.
“Any time you’ve got us two back here (in the backfield), you’ve got to respect us both,” Chambers said. “You’re kind of playing a guessing game there like who’s it going to be this time? We complement each other.”
Wyoming was without two of its top defensive linemen in Youhanna Ghaifan (indefinite suspension) and Carl Granderson, who was back home in California attending his aunt’s funeral. The Cowboys still pitched their third first-half shutout of the season and held their opponent to less than 250 total yards for the second time in three weeks.
The Cowboys were particularly active up front despite not necessarily having the numbers to show for it. Wyoming sacked Josh Love once but sent SJSU’s quarterback to the Jonah Field turf too many other times to count as the Cowboys limited the MW’s sixth-best passing offense to 173 yards through the air.
“That was our main thing was to stop the run, stop that quarterback and win the game,” said defensive end Kevin Prosser, who had four tackles and half a sack.
Wyoming’s ground-and-pound approach didn’t come without the occasional mishap that allowed the Spartans (1-8, 1-4 MW) to hang around despite nearly being doubled up in yards (475-244). Chambers fumbled at SJSU’s 1-yard line with Wyoming trying to add to a 10-0 early in the second quarter while Evans coughed it up at his own 38 early in the fourth quarter with the Cowboys trying to salt away their two-score lead.
“It was a little slick out there. A little wet,” Chambers said. “You have to hold the ball tighter.”
SJSU found the end zone five plays later on Love’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Tre Edwards to make it a one-score game, but Wyoming milked nearly all of the remaining time with a 14-play, 75-yard answer to ice its second straight win. Chambers capped it with his fourth and final completion — a 20-yard touchdown toss to Austin Fort with 1:09 remaining.
“Any time you turn the ball over, you’re not happy,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “But as far as finishing, we finished the long drive and had a touchdown pass. I was pleased with that.”