Wyoming Captures the 115th Edition of the Border War With a 24-15 Victory Over Colorado State

By: 
Tim Jay Harkins, Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations, Public Relations and Broadcasting, University of Wyoming Athleticsm

Bronze Boot, UW vs. Colorado on Nov. 3, 2023

Courtesy University of Wyoming Atheltics 

The Cowboys Earn Bowl Eligibility for the Seventh Time in the Last Eight Seasons

 

Laramie, Wyo.  (Nov. 3, 2023) -- It was another one for the ages in the 115th Edition of the Border War between the Wyoming Cowboys and Colorado State Rams on Friday night in Laramie as the Cowboys came away with a 24-15 victory over the Rams.

 

It was the third consecutive win in the series for Wyoming and the seventh UW win in the last eight Border War meetings, earning the Cowboys the right to retain the Bronze Boot traveling trophy in Wyoming for another year.  UW improved to 6-3 overall for the 2023 season and are now 3-2 in the Mountain West this season.  Colorado State is 3-6 overall and 1-4 in MW play.

 

Wyoming’s sixth win of the season has earned the Cowboys bowl eligibility for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.  Since the 2016 season, Wyoming has earned bowl eligibility seven times.  The only season UW did not earn bowl eligibility during that span was the COVID-shortened season of 2020.

 

Friday night’s victory also kept the Pokes’ home record at a perfect 6-0 this season, with one home game remaining on Nov. 18 vs. Hawai’i.  The home-field advantage was evident Friday night as 27,905 Wyoming fans showed up for the largest home crowd of the season and the largest since the 2019 season.

 

Wyoming never trailed in the game, taking a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, leading 10-7 at halftime, holding a 24-7 lead at the end of three and finishing with a 24-15 final score.

 

The Cowboys came out with a great all-around performance versus their rival Colorado State, and head coach Craig Bohlwas very pleased with how his team played.

 

“We certainly responded tonight,” said Bohl.  “This is always such an important game and you can throw the records out.  I want to say kudos to our fans.  They were unbelievable.  It was a great atmosphere, a big-time atmosphere and our players fed off of that.”

 

Wyoming’s scoring opened with a 30-yard field goal by place-kicker John Hoyland in the first quarter.  UW’s first touchdown of the game was scored on a pass from Cowboy quarterback Andrew Peasley to graduate wide receiver Tanner Gentry.  Gentry missed the entire 2021 and ‘22 seasons due to injuries, and his TD reception against CSU was his first since the 2020 season opener at Nevada.  Bohl was asked what it meant to his team to see Gentry score that touchdown.

 

“It was certainly special,” said Bohl.  “Gunner has gone through so much and he hails from Denver.  To score that touchdown was great.  I know Coach (Tim) Polasek was choked up, and I thought it was a great play by him.”

 

Another key play in the game came in the second quarter with the Pokes leading 10-7.  Wyoming was pinned back on its own 17-yard line and was forced to punt.  It appeared that Colorado State might get good field position, but Cowboy punter Clayton Stewart would uncork his longest punt of the season -- a 72-yarder -- that was downed all the way back at the CSU 11-yard line.

 

“That really flipped the field over for us,” said Bohl.  “(Tory) Horton is such a great returner for Colorado State, so super job by Clayton.”

 

In the third quarter, Wyoming linebackers Easton Gibbs and Shae Suiaunoa each came up with an interception and the Cowboy offense turned both into touchdowns.  Gibbs pick came with UW clinging to a 10-7 lead and Suiaunoa’s came with the Pokes up 17-7.

 

“Those interceptions had a big, big impact,” said Bohl.  “We scored on both of those and they were big plays by our defense.”  

 

A fourth quarter fumble recovery by Cowboy defensive end Tyce Westland ended another CSU scoring threat.  Westland returned the fumble for 61 yards down to the Ram three-yard line, but Colorado State’s defense held Wyoming out of the end zone on four plays. 

 

Individually, Wyoming running back Harrison Waylee recorded his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the 2023 season, rushing for 128 yards on 29 carries against Colorado State.  Earlier this season, Waylee rushed for 110 yards at then No. 4 ranked Texas, 156 yards vs. Appalachian State and 191 yards against New Mexico.

 

Cowboy quarterback Peasley energized the Wyoming offense throughout the night.  He completed 15 of 22 passes (68.2 percent) for 140 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Peasley also rushed for 49 yards to account for 189 yards of total offense.  He connected with nine different receivers, with his two touchdown passes going to Gentry and wide receiverAyir Asante.

 

As a team, Wyoming’s offense out-gained Colorado State.  The Cowboys generated 334 yards of total offense (194 rushing and 140 passing).  CSU accounted for 274 yards of total offense (54 rushing and 220 passing).

 

On defense, three Cowboys tied for the team lead in tackles with seven each.  Those three Cowboys were linebackers Gibbs and Suiaunoa and free safety Wyett Ekeler.  Gibbs added 1.0 sack and 2.0 quarterback hurries to go with his seven tackles and one interception. 

 

Border War Series Notes

•Wyoming has won the last three games in the series.

 

•The Cowboys have won seven of the last eight games against rival Colorado State.

 

•Tonight’s game was the 56th time the two schools battled for the Bronze Boot traveling trophy.  The series is now led by Wyoming with 31 wins.  Colorado State has won the Bronze Boot 25 times.

 

•The overall series has now been played 115 times.  Colorado State leads the overall series 59-51-5.

 

•The Border War series has been played in three different centuries, dating back to Nov. 30, 1899, when CSU won the first meeting 12-0 in Fort Collins, Colo.  This year was the 124th anniversary of that first meeting.

     

•Since the end of World War II, Wyoming and CSU have played every season for 78 consecutive seasons from 1946 to this season.  Over those past 78 consecutive meetings, dating back to the 1946 season, Wyoming leads 46-32-0.

     

•The Bronze Boot trophy was created from an actual boot worn in Vietnam by Dan Romero, a CSU ROTC instructor.

 

First Quarter

Wyoming won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half.  Colorado State gained one first down on its opening possession, but then the Cowboy defense put pressure on Ram quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi on a third and 11 and forced an incomplete pass.  The Pokes took over at their own 21-yard line after the CSU punt.

 

UW’s first series began with a 10-yard pass completion from Peasley to wide receiver Wyatt Wieland.  After a three-yard run by Waylee, Peasley scrambled out of the pocket to the left for 15 yards on a third and seven to move the ball to the Wyoming 49-yard line.  Waylee rushed for eight yards on first down and then gained 10 yards for another first down, placing the ball at the CSU 33.  A false start by UW moved the ball back five yards.  On first and 15, Peasley was sacked for seven yards, bringing up a second and 22 at the Ram 45-yard line.  Peasley found running back Sam Scott for an 11-yard completion and CSU was called for roughing the passer, giving Wyoming an additional 15 yards to the Colorado State 19-yard line.  Waylee gained two yards on first down, but Wyoming was called for a block in the back, resulting in a first and 20 back at the CSU 29.  After a rush for no gain and an incomplete pass, Peasley found wide receiver Alex Browndown the middle for 16 yards to the CSU 13-yard line, but facing a fourth and four place-kicker Hoyland came in and kicked a 30-yard field goal to finish off a 12-play, 66-yard drive that took 6:21 off the clock to give UW a 3-0 lead with 6:14 remaining in the quarter.

 

On Colorado State’s following drive, quarterback Fowler-Nicolosi completed three consecutive passes for 13, 14 and 15 yards and the Rams moved from their own 25-yard line down to the Wyoming 35.  After an incompletion, the Rams gained five more yards on a rush by running back Avery Morrow.  On a third and five, CSU could not complete a pass down the right sideline when Cowboy cornerback Kolbey Taylor broke up the pass intended for wide receiver Tory Horton.  Colorado State place-kicker Jordan Noyes came in to attempt a 47-yard field goal, but Noyes missed the kick to the left.

 

Taking over at his own 30-yard line, Peasley, started Wyoming’s second possession with completions of 12 yards to Waylee, five yards to Scott, a five-yard run by Scott and a 20-yard completion by Peasley to wide receiver Ayir Asante at the CSU 28-yard line.  Waylee lost one yard back to the 29, but Peasley scrambled for 14 yards on second down to give UW a first down at the Ram 15-yard line on the final play of the first quarter.

 

At the end of the first quarter, Wyoming led the game 3-0.  The Cowboys featured a very balanced attack, rushing for 47 yards and passing for 55 yards for 121 yards of total offense and eight first downs in the first quarter.  Wyoming’s defense limited CSU to only 59 total yards -- 22 rushing and 37 passing -- and allowed the Rams to gain only four first downs.  UW also led in time of possession -- 10:07 to 4:53.  Peasley completed 6 of 8 passes (75.0 percent) for 74 yards in the quarter.

 

Second Quarter

The second quarter began with Waylee gaining six yards to the nine-yard line.  On second and four at the nine, Peasley found graduate wide receiver Gentry in the end zone and Gentry did a great job of getting his feet down for the nine-yard TD catch.  Gentry, who had fought back from multiple injuries that forced him to miss the entire 2021 and ‘22 seasons caught his first touchdown pass since the 2020 season opener at Nevada.  The Gentry touchdown put Wyoming up 10-0.

 

Wyoming’s defense forced the Rams into a three-and-out on their next possession.  The Cowboys took over at their own 36-yard line after the CSU punt.  UW was able to move the ball on a 16-yard pass from Peasley to Brown and a five-yard pass from the QB to Scott.  On a fourth and four at the Colorado State 38, place-kicker Hoyland came in to attempt a 55-yard field goal, but the kick came up short and the score remained Wyoming 10, CSU 0.

 

Colorado State’s offense responded on its next drive, beginning with a six-yard rush by running back Vann Schield followed by consecutive completions from Fowler-Nicolosi to wide receiver Louis Brown IV for nine and 15 yards to the Wyoming 32-yard line.  Schield then carried three consecutive times for five, seven and two yards to the Wyoming 18.  On first and 10 at the 18-yard line, it was then that Fowler-Nicolosi found Brown IV for the third time on the drive for an 18-yard TD pass to cut the Wyoming lead to 10-7 with 7:45 remaining in the second quarter.

 

Wyoming’s next possession saw the Pokes pinned back on its own 27-yard line when Cowboy punter Stewart hit a 52-yard punt that rolled down to the CSU 21-yard line.  But a holding penalty on UW’s punt team resulted in Colorado State making the Pokes punt a second time from their own 17-yard line.  It was then that Stewart hit his season long 72-yard punt to the Ram 11-yard line.

 

The teams would exchange punts before time expired in the first half, with Wyoming leading 10-7.  The Cowboys generated 180 yards of total offense in the first half (76 rushing and 104 passing).  Colorado State totalled 134 yards (40 rushing and 94 passing).

 

UW quarterback Peasley completed 9 of 12 passes for 104 yards, one passing TD and rushed for 17 yards for 121 yards of total offense in the first half.  Waylee led the Pokes in rushing with 49 yards on 11 carries.  Brown caught two passes for 32 yards and Gentry had the Cowboys’ nine-yard TD reception.  Poke linebacker Gibbs led Wyoming with five first-half tackles.

 

Fowler-Nicolosi completed 10 of 18 passes for 94 yards and one passing touchdown.  The Rams were led in rushing by running backs Schield (five carries for 24 yards) and Morrow (four carries for 21 yards).  Brown IV caught three passes for 42 yards and one rushing TD.  Safety Jack Howell was CSU’s leading tackler with five tackles of his own.

 

Third Quarter

Wyoming received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved the ball well, with Peasley having two big running plays of 20 yards and 10 yards.  After driving down to the CSU 35, the drive stalled and Hoyland was asked to attempt his second 50+ yard field goal of the night -- this one from 52 -- but missed it wide right.

 

Colorado State took over at its own 35-yard line.  After Morrow gained only five yards on the first two plays of the possession, Fowler-Nicolosi dropped back looking for tight end Dallin Holker.  But Cowboy middle linebacker Gibbs picked off the pass, giving Wyoming the ball on the Ram 38-yard line.  UW defensive end DeVonne Harris put pressure on Fowler-Nicolosi to help force the interception.

 

Wyoming’s offense combined two rushes of 11 and five yards by Waylee with three pass completions by Peasley of five yards to Wieland, five yards to tight end Colin O’Brien and an 11-yard TD pass to wide receiver Asante.  With 5:53 remaining in the third quarter, Wyoming had built a 17-7 lead.

 

Colorado State opened its next possession at its own 30-yard line after a five-yard offside penalty on Wyoming on the kickoff.  Fowler-Nicolosi found tight end Holker for nine yards on first down.  On second down, Fowler-Nicolosi threw across the middle looking for wide receiver Justus Ross-Simmons, but this time it was Wyoming’s other linebacker, Suiaunoa, who intercepted the pass and returned it eight yards to the Colorado State 46.

 

Waylee would fuel Wyoming’s following possession carrying three times for five, two and 20 yards.  Peasley connected with wide receiver Will Pelissier on a five-yard pass completion.  He also threw a four-yard completion to tight end John Michael Gyllenborg followed by a four-yard run by Peasley down to the CSU six-yard line.  From there, running back Scott carried it into the end zone to give the Pokes a 24-7 lead.

 

Colorado State would take possession with 1:08 remaining in the quarter, but the quarter would end with UW holding a 21-point lead (24-7).

 

Fourth Quarter

 

The fourth quarter began with Colorado State facing a fourth and one at its own 44-yard line.  The Rams went for it on fourth down and Fowler-Nicolosi completed a nine-yard pass to Ross-Simmons.  CSU gained three yards on two rushes by Morrow, but again found itself facing a fourth and seven at the Wyoming 44-yard line.  Colorado State again made the decision to go for it on fourth down, but they were charged with a delay of game penalty, making it fourth and 12 at the 49.  It was then that CSU decided to punt the ball instead and punter Paddy Turner kicked the ball into Wyoming’s end zone for a touchback.

 

Wyoming made its first big mistake of the game on its ensuing possession, when Peasley threw an interception to cornerback Dom Jones at the Wyoming 38-yard line on a second and 12 with 12:29 remaining in the game.

 

The Cowboys were called for pass interference on the Rams first down play, moving the ball to the Wyoming 23-yard line for a first down.  Fowler-Nicolosi completed a seven-yard pass to wide receiver Dylan Goffney on first down.  That was followed by a seven-yard run by Schield to the UW nine.  On first and goal at the nine, Fowler-Nicolosi connected with Goffney on a touchdown pass.  The Rams then successfully completed a two-point extra point, with wide receiver Horton throwing back to quarterback Fowler-Nicolosi to cut Wyoming’s lead to 24-15.

 

Colorado State engineered an 11-play drive late in the fourth quarter and drove all the way to the Wyoming 24-yard line when on a shotgun snap, Fowler-Nicolosi fumbled the snap and Cowboy defensive end Westland picked up the ball at the Wyoming 36-yard line and returned it 61 yards to the CSU three-yard line where wide receiver Ross-Simmons tackled him.

 

Wyoming had first and goal at the three-yard line with a chance to seal the win.  After a two-yard rush by Waylee on first down and a rushing attempt for no gain by Peasley on second down, the Pokes then attempted a pass to tight end Welch which fell incomplete.  On fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Waylee was tackled for a one-yard loss and CSU had held the Cowboys out of the end zone with 2:04 left on the clock.

 

The Rams fought their way out of the shadow of their own end zone and moved the ball out to the CSU 45-yard line when they were faced with a fourth and three at the 45.  Fowler-Nicolosi threw a short pass in the right flat to running back Schield who looked like he would get the first down, but Cowboy cornerback Tyrecus Davis made a huge play and tackled Schield one-yard short of the first down and Wyoming took over with only 55 seconds remaining.  Waylee would gain one more first down for the Cowboys on a 13-yard rush and the Pokes would run out the clock and keep the Bronze Boot in Laramie for the third consecutive season and seven out of the last eight seasons.      

 

Up Next

Wyoming will travel to the UNLV next Friday, Nov. 10 to take on the Rebels in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.  The Wyoming-UNLV game will kick off at 8:45 p.m., Mountain Time and will be televised on FS1.  The game will also be broadcast over radio on the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show at 7 p.m., Mountain Time.

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