Defense wins ball games

Sonja Karp, Sports Editor

Everyone knows that defense wins ball games. There are countless examples that I have witnessed over the years to lend credence to the adage. But, as I watched the season opener for the Wyoming Cowboys on Sept. 2, I saw it play out in a big way. 


As Texas Tech is in the Big 12, and Wyoming is in the Mountain West, it wasn’t a conference game, and the Red Raiders, who came in ranked 24th, were favored to win the game.


About 1,000 Texas fans were in attendance. A lightning delay held up the start of the game by over an hour, and the air quality as you head up to Laramie may have dealt a blow to the Red Raiders, but as I watched the game, it was defense that made all the difference in the outcome of the contest. 


The Wyoming offense looked like a deer caught in the headlights as the first quarter got under way. They went three and out, then lost possession on a fumble, then went three and out and lost the ball on their next possession with another fumble. 


Texas Tech used those offensive mistakes to jump out to a 17-0 lead, and things were looking a little grim for the Brown and Gold.


However, because the defense stepped up, the Pokes rallied from a 0-17 deficit in the first quarter to bring the game within reach by the half. 


The offense fed off the momentum the defense created and went to work to punch in a touchdown and a hit a field goal to pull to a 10-17 deficit.


After the half, Wyoming did a great job of slowing down the hurry-up offense of the Texas game, which the Red Raiders hang their hat on. They then tied it up in the third quarter by a gutsy fourth down call by head coach Craig Bohl and a great scramble by QB1 Andrew Peasley to pick up a first down, which led to a TD pass.


Meanwhile, the Cowboy defense continued to deny Tech access to the Wyo end zone, including blocking a field goal attempt by a talented kicker from Texas.  


The offense chewed up the clock, keeping the ball out of Tech’s hands and giving the mighty Pokes’ defense a well deserved and much needed rest on the sidelines in the fourth quarter.


The Cowboys pulled ahead by a field goal with 9:02 remaining, then the Red Raiders had the ball. They were able to get within striking distance, but again, the Cowboy defense avoided a  loss by deflecting a TD pass in the end zone with 1:30 remaining. 


Tech was forced to go for a field goal with 45 seconds on the clock, and finally hit a 27-yard attempt to tie the game. It was the first time they had scored since the first quarter, because Wyoming defense denied them access to the end zone.


It came down to double overtime, but it would be defense that would be the difference when they stood resolute at the goal line to keep Tech from converting their two-point PAT attempt giving the Pokes the 35-33 win.

Wyoming wasn’t supposed to win that game. It was a huge upset. Tech was highly favored, but coming to Laramie is just different. The air gets a little thin at 7,220 feet, there was a great crowd, and the atmosphere was vibrant.


Obviously, you can’t win if you don’t score, but the Wyo defense showed up and showed out for their home crowd and made that huge win a possibility.


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