Football falls 35-7 at Wyoming
By HEATHER KENNEDY
LARAMIE, Wyo. – Despite the 35-7 loss, the Northern Colorado football team felt much more positive after Saturday's game at Wyoming.
"I thought for the most part our kids played hard," Head Coach Earnest Collins Jr. said. "We've just got to continue to work on eliminating the explosion plays, eliminating the turnovers for touchdowns and the dropped balls."
The Bears (1-2) amassed 340 yards of total offense on 78 plays and sacked the Cowboys quarterback, Brett Smith, four times.
"We played a lot better (than last week), for one on defense," Collins said. "I thought overall we moved the ball, we just couldn't put it in the endzone, and we've got to just continue to work as a team, and grind, because our ballclub is much better than 1-2 and we're going to show it over these next nine ball games."
Next week, the Bears return home to host No. 7 Northern Iowa, which had a bye-week this week and enters with a 2-0 record.
Senior quarterback Tim Tancik (Denver) saw his first career action under center and completed 16 of 29 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown, coming in for senior Seth Lobato, who was 14 of 23 for 114 yards before leaving the game with an injury.
"Timmy came out and he played his butt off, considering the circumstances" Collins said. "We've just got to get him some help."
Defensively, senior linebacker Clarence Bumpas (Colorado Springs, Colo.) led the team with 11 tackles, while senior linebacker Leilon Willingham (Denver) chipped in 10. Bumpas, junior linebacker Max Flores (Yuba City, Calif.) and junior nose guard Lexington Smith (Denver) all had a solo sack in the game, while junior defensive end Devontae Chapple (Denver) and senior end Gavin Miller (Greeley, Colo.) combined for the other.
Bumpas recorded his first sack of the season, forcing Wyoming into a three-and-out on its opening series of the game. The officials originally called that Bumpas forced the fumble and Willingham picked up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown, but the play was later recalled after review.
The Bears couldn't capitalize on the good field position, however, as senior kicker Dave Eden (Westminster, Colo.) missed a 39-yard field goal attempt.
Chapple and Miller combined for another quarterback sack on the Cowboys quarterback, forcing a punt. Northern Colorado also punted on its next possession and the teams were scoreless after the first quarter.
Wyoming scored first, on a one-yard touchdown rush by Shaun Wick with 13:34 to play in the second quarter after driving 76 yards in 13 plays over 2:12 for the 7-0 lead.
A tipped Lobato pass by Tim Hayes fell into the hands of Jordan Stanton and he broke several tackles for a 39-yard interception return to give the Pokes a 14-0 lead with 12:12 remaining in the half.
Wyoming drove 95 yards for another touchdown, capped by a six-yard pass from Brett Smith to Dominic Rufran for the 21-0 advantage with 6:39 left in the second quarter.
After another three-and-out by the Bears offense, Wyoming drove the length of the field again, but Stuart Williams missed a 35-yard field goal to the left and the Bears regained possession on their own 20-yard line.
At halftime, the Northern Colorado offense had 125 yards, while Wyoming had 261 on 52 plays. The Bears held a 17:19 to 12:41 advantage in time of possession and Bumpas led all players on defense with eight tackles.
The Bears deferred the opening coin toss and elected to receive to start the second half. The kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Bears possession on the 35-yard line. Davis immediately gained a first down on an 11-yard catch from Lobato. A facemask penalty against Wyoming put the Bears in Pokes territory at the 39-yard line. Lobato rushed for six yards and was pulled from the contest with a suspected shoulder injury. Eden's 47-yard field goal was blocked by Sonny Puletasi.
After a bad snap, Smith flung the ball downfield and senior right corner Mykel Morse (Parker, Colo.) picked off the pass on the two-yard line. Unfortunately, the Bears could not take advantage of the turnover and punted it away.
The Bears defense held tough, forcing a three-and-out and the team took over on its own 20-yard line.
Tancik completed the first pass of his career to senior Will Jefferson Jr. (Moreno Valley, Calif.) on second down for a gain of two, but the Bears were forced into another punt.
The teams traded punts and Wyoming was forced into another punt after a seven-yard sack by Flores.
Vander Velde had two big catches on the ensuing Northern Colorado drive for the team's first touchdown of the day. The scoring touchdown reception was 31 yards, while he caught another 20-yard pass from Tancik to set up the score. Eden's PAT was good to bring the Bears within 14, 21-7.
Wyoming recovered the on-side kick and took advantage of the short field, scoring on a 20-yard rushing touchdown by Wick. The PAT was successful for the 28-7 score.
After a 58 minute delay for lightning, the teams resumed play at 5:36 p.m. and Tancik immediately hit junior Dimitri Stimphil (Homestead, Fla.) for a 15-yard gain and a first down. Tancik completed a fourth-down pass to Jefferson for 10 yards. On a fourth-and-goal from the three-yard line Tancik's pass was incomplete to Jefferson in the back of the endzone.
The Bears Courtney Hall (Pompano Beach, Fla.) recovered a fumble that was forced by Willingham, but on the following drive Cortland Fort ran back a 50-yard interception for a touchdown for the 35-7 final score.