Cowboys stifle Aggies in road opener, 29-7

WYOMING – It was all Cowboys in Las Cruces, NM last night as the Pokes got their 2018 season off to a flying start, downing the New Mexico State Aggies 29-7.

Wyoming’s defense was as advertised, shutting out the Aggies until the final two minutes of the game.

The Cowboys defense was so stifling, Aggie fans didn’t get much of a look at Striking, the kickoff tee-fetching border collie for New Mexico (see video). When the dog finally got a chance to race out onto the field to retrieve the tee on the ensuing kickoff after the NMSU’s only touchdown of the game, ESPN announcers joked it was the Aggies longest run of the game.

The offense was where the Cowboys were expected to find the steepest learning curve after the departure of their NFL-caliber QB Josh Allen. But redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal turned in a workman-like effort, going 12-21 for 133 yards; no TDs but no picks, either.

Wyoming’s running game was also a place the Pokes hoped to improve, especially to give Vander Waal more options and take the pressure off the 20-year old quarterback. And the backfield looked stellar.

Nico Evans led the way with 204 yards on 25 carries. He found the end zone twice. Jevon Bigelow also scored and added another 51 yards. Xazavian Valladay, the bruising back from Chicago, added another 61 yards in tough cleanup running duties when the game was decided and the Pokes needed to eat clock with ball possession.

Next up for Wyoming is Washington State who have yet to play this year. It will be a tough test for the Cowboys who come into the game as a field goal underdog. The Cougars had a great season last year but graduated their star QB, and the team does not have a history of playing well on the road against Mountain West teams (1-4 in their last five games). The Cowboys are 5-1 in their last six home games.

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