Evans, Chambers lead Wyoming in snowy 24-9 win
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Nico Evans rushed for 187 yards, including a 58-yard score and Sean Chambers added 129 yards with a 64-yard touchdown run to lead Wyoming to a 24-9 win over San Jose State on a snowy Saturday afternoon.
It was the third straight game in which the running back and quarterback each rushed for over 100 yards. Wyoming’s 424 yards rushing was the team’s highest since a 430-yard attack Sept. 12, 2015, against Eastern Michigan. Chambers’ long jaunt put Wyoming (4-6, 2-4 Mountain West) up 17-3 midway through the third quarter.
The Cowboys’ Antonio Hull broke up a fourth-down pass at the Wyoming 14 with 11:59 remaining to preserve the lead, but Jonathan Lenard Jr. forced Evans to fumble on the Cowboys’ next series, and Jesse Osuna recovered for the Spartans. Six plays later, Josh Love threw a 17-yard strike to Tre Walker in the right front corner of the end zone, but San Jose State muffed the extra point, leaving the score 17-9 with 8:48 to play.
Wyoming then marched 75 yards, keeping the ball on the ground for 13 plays until Chambers connected with Austin Fort on a 20-yard TD pass with 1:09 left. Chambers converted a pair of third downs during the drive.
“Certainly with the conditions, the wind and snow, it turned it into a game that we needed to leverage our running ability,” said Wyoming coach Craig Bohl, whose team rushed 64 times and passed only eight. “It ate up time off the clock, kept our defense fresh and had a big impact on the game.”
Evans, who had his third-best rushing day, moved from 13th to sixth on Wyoming’s single-season rushing list and with two games to go, the senior has 1,166 yards. He needs 135 to catch No. 5 Devin Moore, who had 1,301 yards in 2008.
Wyoming guard Kayden Jackson said Chambers “runs the ball hard (and is) not afraid to lower his shoulder, and if you have a quarterback that can do that, you better look out.”
Blocking for Evans, Jackson said, is “awesome.”
“Nico runs hard, finds seams in the gaps and if we don’t quite get the movement, he makes plays.”
Wyoming’s two long runs were the exception to a great battle on the line of scrimmage, according to Spartans nose tackle Boogie Roberts, who had eight tackles and a forced fumble.
“Man, we were fighting. It was a battle down in the trenches,” he said. “They were giving some, we were giving some. And then two small plays, long runs. … Just a shout-out to their O-line, and their running backs were running hard.”
San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said Evans is “a stud, an absolute stud,” adding that his team’s defense had two key breakdowns.
“We were playing good defense, the one Chambers split in the second half … seemed like he was running forever,” Brennan said. “And then the one by Evans in the first half was also a big play. We got out of a gap and that’s what happens. When you make a mistake like that, the ball finds you.”
Love, who was hit often as he threw, was 19 of 32 passing for 173 yards for San Jose State (1-8, 1-4), while Tyler Nevens rushed for 70 yards on 17 attempts.
FIELD GOAL STREAKS
Wyoming’s Cooper Rothe kicked a 26-yard field goal to open the scoring but missed a 43-yarder, ending the nation’s longest active FBS streak at 18, dating to last season. He is now 15 of 16 in 2018.
San Jose State’s Bryce Crawford also converted a 26-yarder, his seventh straight successful attempt and 44th of his career, moving him into second place on the Spartans’ career list.
NOVEMBER AT 7,220 FEET
The temperature was 34 degrees at kickoff with gusts over 40 mph, yielding a 21-degree wind chill. The sun made a brief appearance early but light snow showers, driven by strong wind, swirled most of the afternoon. Meanwhile, 1,152 miles to the west, it was 80 degrees in San Jose.
“Man, that was the first time I’ve ever seen snow in my life,” said Roberts, a Los Angeles native. “But at the end of the day it’s still football. It’s still 11 guys on offense and 11 guys on defense.”
Brennan agreed the weather was not much of a factor.
“I’m sure there’s kids in our locker room that didn’t like playing in that. I’m certain of it,” he said. “I was talking with Coach (Bohl) before the game. He said last year, Thanksgiving weekend, his players didn’t like the 85 degrees in San Jose, California. Home field advantage is what home field advantage is.”
San Jose State: The Spartans were hoping to build off last week’s 506-yard effort in a 50-37 win over UNLV, their first victory of the season, but the Cowboys’ defense stifled the visitors’ attack. San Jose State had only 39 yards and two first downs in the first half and didn’t cross midfield until the third quarter. The Spartans finished with 244 yards.
Wyoming: The Cowboys remained in the hunt for bowl eligibility with their second straight conference win. With Chambers at the helm, the offense continues to improve, piling up a season-high 475 yards and finishing with a time-consuming drive to seal the win. The defense, led by Logan Wilson’s 10 tackles, made key stops down the stretch and held the Spartans to their third-lowest yardage total of the year.
San Jose State: The Spartans visit Utah State next Saturday. The Aggies have won seven straight in the series, including a 61-10 beat down last year.
Wyoming: The Cowboys will take their second bye week before hosting Air Force on Nov. 17. Wyoming has won the last two meetings and four of the last five against the Falcons.