LARAMIE – Craig Bohl’s voice started cracking and he slammed the podium.
The subject was Andrew Peasley.
Wyoming’s new starting quarterback took a lot of heat and deleted his Twitter account after going 5 for 20 passing for 30 yards with an interception in the 38-6 Week 0 loss to Illinois.
Bohl’s raw emotion spilled out at his postgame press conference when he was asked about Peasley’s rebounding performance in the Pokes’ thrilling 40-37 double-overtime win over Tulsa on Saturday. before 20,574 witnesses at War Memorial Stadium.
“I just want to point out that they’re still college guys,” Bohl said. “You know? And we’re going to believe in them and that’s frustrating for me sometimes, and I’m going to get a little defensive, when I hear negative reviews about a hard-working guy.
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“I have news for you guys, (Peasley) doesn’t have a six-figure ZERO contract. Okay? He’s playing for Wyoming because he loves it. It touches me and I’m happy for him.”
Peasley’s first home game in a UW uniform went more according to plan after he transferred from Utah State to join rival Mountain West. He was 20 for 30 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I changed schools and there was a lot of expectation for myself, and he knew it,” Peasley said when briefed on Bohl’s passionate defense of his new QB1. “When you go 5 for 20 and kind of blow your ass off in the season opener, that was tough for me.
“I just told everyone that we have to bounce back as a team.”
The Pokes have found their balance and a passing game.
UW scored a defensive touchdown, a special teams touchdown and Peasley delivered the explosive plays in the passing game that have been lacking in recent years.
It was just enough to find a win when Zack Long’s 43-yard field goal attempt for Tulsa in second overtime missed the wide left.
“What an outstanding team win for our players,” said Bohl. “There were a lot of young players who are quite impressionable. During this game, there were ups and downs. Our guys believed in each other.”
Davis Brin shredded the UW secondary for 460 passing yards and three touchdowns, but breaking up Keonte Glinton’s pass in the end zone on his final pass was one of the many key plays in that great breakout. .
The Cowboys held Tulsa to a 25-yard field goal by Long to start the extra frames.
A hold call marred the Cowboys’ drive in the first overtime, and John Hoyland’s 25-yard field goal tied the score 37-37. His fourth triple completed in the second OT proved to be the difference when his counterpart blinked.
“A tough loss,” Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery said. “We have the opportunity to be a good football team. We saw some really positive things on this pitch today, but we have to fix some of those things that we need to fix.”
The Cowboys had two golden chances to put the game aside at the end of regulation.
After a 23-yard reception by DQ James and a 10-yard bootleg by Peasley to convert a third-and-10, UW had a lead-and-go at 7.
Then Titus Swen fumbled at the 5 with 1:45 to go.
Cornerback Cam Stone picked up Swen by forcing Keylon Stokes to fumble as the wide receiver spun through midfield. Glinton picked up the turnover.
But Hoyland’s 44-yard field goal hit the right post and rebounded with two seconds remaining, keeping the score tied 34-34 and forcing overtime.
Bohl said he watched countless Hoyland kicks in practice and couldn’t remember a doink.
“He doesn’t do all of them, but he never hit the goal post,” Bohl said. “I was like, OK, that’s something.”
James let what likely would have been a touchdown catch slip through his hands in second overtime, and the Pokes settled for a 30-yard field goal by Hoyland.
Brin moved the chains twice with third downs, then put a 19-yard touchdown strike between Stokes’ numbers on the first snap of the fourth quarter to give the Golden Hurricane (0-1) a 34-24 lead. .
Then Hoyland had a career-high 55-yard field goal to keep UW within a score, 34-27, with 10:53 left.
Bohl said the boot was a game changer. And that confidence-boosting win could change everything this season for the Pokes.
Tulsa’s Long missed a 49-yard try on the next possession after a hold call blocked the drive.
After a 6-yard run from Dawaiian McNeely and a 22-yard run from Swen, Peasley threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Cobbs to tie the score 34-34 with 6:19 remaining.
Bohl told Cobbs, who also struggled in Champaign, that he loved him after the score.
“For the coach to come and say that, I think it was important,” said Cobbs, who is also under pressure this year trying to replace Isaiah Neyor as the UW’s top receiver. “It means a lot to me.”
The Pokes were booed after Bohl decided to release punter Clayton Stewart instead of keeping the offense on the field for a fourth-and-one at UW 44.
The move paid off when Jordan Bertagnole broke up a pass on ensuing possession and Ryan Marquez blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 24-20 lead.
The momentum was short-lived as the Golden Hurricane converted a third-and-13 and a third-and-9 before Brin’s 41-yard touchdown pass to JuanCarlos Santana on third-and-10 to put Tulsa ahead 27-24.
The Pokes trailed 20-17 at intermission despite a defensive touchdown and the team’s first offensive touchdown of the season.
Bertagnole de Brin’s strip-sack was picked up in the end zone by Easton Gibbs to give UW a 7-0 lead 37 seconds into the game.
“It was important for us to jump on them quickly,” said Gibbs, who finished with a team-high eight tackles. “It’s a dynamic game. To do that today was really nice.”
The forwards traded 13-game drives resulting in field goals to make it 10-3. Peasley, who went 5 of 20 for 30 yards in the loss to Illinois, was 4 of 4 passing for 27 yards in the first quarter.
Tulsa’s 269-pound running back Steven Anderson bulldozed his way over the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown to tie the score 10-10.
UW lined up with a receiver – Will Pelissier – flanked on the west side of the field and nine blockers for Peasley, who delivered a perfect 48-yard touchdown strike at Big Horn second to make it 17-10 with 57 seconds left in the half.
“Will went out there, and he’s a lot faster than people think,” Bohl said of the “Big Horn 22” lineup for UW’s first offensive touchdown of the season. “He’s way faster than the University of Tulsa thinks he is.”
Passes for 33 and 22 yards and a pass interference call off Deron Harrell set up Brin’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Malachai Jones with eight seconds on the clock to give the Golden Hurricane a 20-17 advantage at the half time.
“I think we threw it 52 times today,” Montgomery said. “It’s not usually our characteristic, we like to be more balanced.
The Pokes gave up just 61 rushing yards and finished with 4.0 sacks from Brin. Peasley also led UW’s opening offense with 45 rushing yards.
A week after trying to silence a sea of critics, the Pokes’ new QB said he can’t wait to learn the lyrics to “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” so he can better celebrate after the next win.
“No one was surprised,” Peasley said of the young team’s reaction to the win. “It was kind of like, ‘This is who we are, this is what we did.’ That’s why last week was such a disappointment because we knew we were better than that.
“As a team it’s probably the best feeling in the world, just walking into a locker room, looking at each other, it’s love and that’s good.”
Follow UW beat writer Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn