Wyoming cruises past Northern Colorado 35-7
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A 35-7 victory over a lower division team that included two touchdowns scored by the defense might raise some concern from Wyoming fans.
But Cowboys coach Dave Christensen knows where the bottom line is after beating Northern Colorado on Saturday.
“It’s a win,” Christensen said. “You can sit there and say well you played better against Nebraska, yet we lost. We enjoy wins.”
Wyoming (2-1) has won its last two games after falling to Nebraska in the opener 37-34.
Still, Christensen and Cowboy players know they need to work on improving, especially on offense as they enter Mountain West Conference play.
“We can play a lot better as we know,” Christensen said. “We’re very disappointed on how we executed offensively, and we got to get that fixed in a hurry.”
Brett Smith passed for 264 yards and a touchdown, Shaun Wick rushed for two TDs and the Wyoming defense returned two interceptions for scores in the win over the Bears. The game included a 58-minute delay because of lightning — the second week in a row Wyoming has seen a lightning delay.
Smith completed 30 of 47 passes with one interception. Dominic Rufran caught nine passes for 87 yards, including a 6-yard TD.
Wick ran 16 times for 87 yards, scoring on runs of 1 and 20 yards.
Wyoming also scored its first defensive touchdowns of the season with defensive backs Jordan Stanton and Cortland Fort each recording a pick-6.
Stanton grabbed a tipped pass and weaved his way around and through would-be tacklers 39 yards for the score, while Fort stepped in front of a pass to the sideline and raced 50 yards untouched.
It was Stanton’s first pick-6 of his football career.
“I was excited because I knew I was going to take it to the crib. As soon as I seen that ball get tipped, I mean my eyes — they were bigger than they ever were before — and I just knew I was going to score,” he said. “Nobody was going to stop me. If I had to do backflips, whatever I had to do to get into the end zone.”
Stanton also had 12 tackles and a sack for the Cowboys, who surrendered just 65 rushing yards.
Wyoming also blocked a field goal.
Tim Tancik, who stepped in when starting quarterback Seth Lobato injured his shoulder in the third quarter, led the Bears (1-2), completing 16 of 29 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. He connected with Derek Vander Velde on a 31-yard TD and threw one interception.
Lobato completed 14 of 23 passes for 114 yards and one interception.
Northern Colorado, a FCS team that has never beaten a FBS opponent, entered the game averaging 33.5 points. The Bears gained 340 total yards on offense but converted just five of 18 third downs.
Entering Saturday’s game, the Bears had scored on all eight of their red zone scoring chances. But against Wyoming, their streak ended when they failed to score on two chances.
“We moved the ball well, all over the field, but it seemed when we needed it most we couldn’t finish the drives,” Bears coach Earnest Collins said, lamenting some dropped passes in particular.
Wyoming, which entered the game leading the Mountain West in total offense at 583 yards a game, also struggled at times. The Cowboys finished with 437 total yards and lost a fumble.
Smith, who injured his right ankle on the third play of the game when he was tackled while scrambling, said there were some communication problems between himself and his receivers.
“Obviously, it wasn’t sharp, it wasn’t crisp. We didn’t get in a rhythm all game,” he said.
Still, Smith tied Casey Bramlet, who played for Wyoming from 2000-03, for the school record in career TD passes with 56.
Montana State beats Colorado State-Mesa 26-0
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Jake Bleskin threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns in his debut at quarterback for Montana State leading the Bobcats to a 26-0 win over Division II Colorado State-Mesa.
Bleskin, who completed 26 of 35 passes and had no interceptions, is filling in for injured senior Denarius McGhee, who separated his shoulder last week against Southern Methodist on the last play of the game.
“It was good to get my feet wet,” Bleskin said. “I thought (CSU-Mesa) played really good. They played some funky coverages.
“It was important for me to know these guys trusted me,” Bleskin said of his teammates. “I had 10 studs with me out there and four or five of them are wide receivers.”
Junior wide receiver Brian Flotkoetter caught two touchdowns and had five catches for 80 yards for the Bobcats (2-1).
Both touchdowns were from 18 yards out. Tanner Bleskin, Jake’s brother, caught 10 passes for 96 yards and Jon Ellis had seven catches for 110 yards. The starting wide receivers had 22 catches for 286 yards.
CSU-Mesa (1-1) had little success moving the ball all day. They finished with 164 yards thanks in part to MSU defensive end Brad Daly and outside linebacker Alex Singleton. Daly had four sacks, and Singleton had four tackles for loss and returned an interception for a touchdown.
“I thought I was gonna drop it,” Singleton said of his interception, which he bobbled for about five yards before securing it. “They kept running the 10-yard out route and it came right to me.”
Many thought that third-ranked MSU would have a more convincing win.
“You’ll never hear me complain about a win,” MSU head coach Rob Ash said. “The only team that really had a chance to win the game was us.”
Montana storms past North Dakota, 55-17
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Jordan Johnson threw five touchdown passes as Montana erased an early North Dakota lead to defeat the Bison 55-17 on Saturday night.
The Griz (2-0) reeled off 33 unanswered points after falling behind 7-0 just minutes after the opening kickoff. Johnson, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 354 yards, threw 3 TDs in the first quarter and two more late in the game.
North Dakota (1-2) scored first on a Joe Mollberg pass to Blair Townsend, but didn’t get on the board again until a Zeb Miller field goal 51 seconds before the half. The Bison had torched Montana’s secondary last year, Greg Hardin setting a Big Sky single-game receiving record of 333 yards. Hardin was held to 46 yards on five catches Saturday.
Saturday was a nonconference game.
The Griz last won in Grand Forks in 1971. The teams did not play between 1973 and 2010.
South Dakota State tops SE Louisiana 34-26
BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — Zach Zenner ran for three touchdowns on 128 yards rushing and South Dakota State erased a first-half deficit to defeat Southeastern Louisiana 34-26 on Saturday night.
The Jackrabbits (3-0) remain undefeated heading into a big game at Nebraska next week.
Southeastern Louisiana (1-2) had the upper hand early, leading 19-7 after a Bryan Bennett touchdown run early in the third quarter.
But Zenner responded with a 75-yard rushing score and Austin Sumner added a 20-yard rushing touchdown late in the third quarter to give the Jackrabbits their first lead at 20-19.
After another Zenner score, Dallas Brown returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown to give South Dakota State a 34-19 lead.
The Lions had 506 yards of total offense compared with 345 for the Jackrabbits but were hurt by six turnovers.
Tony McCrea had 7 receptions for 158 yards to aid the Southeastern Louisiana offense.