Next man up
Wyoming’s running back depth continued to dwindle with true freshman Jevon Bigelow, who made his first career start at Missouri, out Saturday because of a concussion.
Bigelow had already been starting in place of senior Nico Evans, who remained sidelined with bruised ribs.
So, the Cowboys, who already lost Kellen Overstreet to medical retirement and Trey Woods to a position change, started redshirt freshman Xazavian Valladay.
Valladay was the only Wyoming tailback to take a carry Saturday, and he rushed 15 times for 59 yards, just shy of the career high he set in the season opener at New Mexico State.
Valladay was also a factor in the passing game, catching three passes for 23 yards.
His longest was a 10-yarder on fourth down that kept Wyoming’s game-winning drive alive.
On the arm of TVW The Cowboys ran the ball just 27 times Saturday, their fewest since 2015 against North Dakota, their last loss to a Football Championship Subdivision squad. Consequently, redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal had to throw the ball 42 times. Prior to Saturday, he had just 69 career passing attempts in three games. He completed 25 of those passes for 224 yards, both career highs. Vander Waal also had his first two career passing touchdowns in the game, and they came on crucial drives. The first gave Wyoming a 10-7 lead before halftime and capped a gritty drive in which Vander Waal’s legs were also needed. The second was the game-winner to Rocket Ismail, ending a drive in which Vander Waal passed for 79 yards.
Conway’s big day
With limited depth at running back, the Cowboys’ short passing game was going to be key. And no receiver has been a bigger part of Wyoming’s short passing game the last few years than Austin Conway. The junior receiver came through, catching 11 passes for 89 yards on 15 targets. Conway, Wyoming’s leading receiver in yards and receptions last year, matched a career high in catches. He was as clutch as he was busy. He continually fought for extra yards that wound up earning Wyoming first downs and had a key physical 12-yard catch across the middle.