LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — For the second time in three games, Colby Kirkegaard rallied Wyoming to a last-minute victory after his team fell behind late.
Trailing 19-17 and taking possession with two minutes left after the Cowboys defense forced a turnover deep in their own territory, Kirkegaard connected with Dominic Rufran on a crossing route that turned into an 88-yard play.READ MORE: Suspected Shoplifter Shot By Police After Pulling Weapon At The Falls Shopping Center In SW Miami-Dade
Stuart Williams then kicked an 18-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining to lift Wyoming to a 20-19 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
“This was a huge win for us,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “You couldn’t come up with a better script than this, especially the way we moved the ball down the field. Certainly it was exciting. It was a scrap. And it was a win that I’ll always remember.”
Moments before the stunning turn of events, the Owls (1-3) looked ready to wrap up a big road win. Florida Atlantic was at the Wyoming 11 with 2:09 to play after the Cowboys failed to convert a 4th-and-22. But on first down, quarterback Jaquez Johnson fumbled after a hit by Mark Nzeocha and the Cowboys’ Jordan Stanton recovered at the Wyoming 8.
On the next play, Kirkegaard found Rufran wide open near the Cowboys’ 30 and the receiver raced all the way to the Owls’ 4 to set up the game-winning kick.
“I saw Dom coming across wide open, and it’s a good thing he’s really fast,” Kirkegaard said.
A face-mask penalty put the ball at the 2, but after three straight runs netted only a yard, Williams’ field goal put the Cowboys on top.
“It will definitely make for a memorable moment because we had a complete team effort,” Rufran said.
On the key fumble, Nzeocha was blitzing and saw Johnson coming straight at him.
“He was kinda carrying the ball loose and I just put my face mask on the ball,” Nzeocha said.
Johnson said Nzeocha made a great play.READ MORE: CDC's New Mask Mandate Encourages People To Get COVID Vaccinations
“You always want to have that back, but you can’t go back,” Johnson said. “It’s disappointing, but at the same time, there are a lot of things we could have done earlier in the game. We let them hang around, and you let people hang around and that’s what happens.”
Shaun Wick had 111 yards on 14 carries for the Cowboys (3-1), while Kirkegaard finished 10-of-23 passing for 161 yards and was sacked five times. Devyn Harris led the defense with 10 tackles and one pass broken up.
Jay Warren had 108 yards on 22 rushes for the Owls. Johnson was 14 of 28 for 99-yards passing and rushed for 44 more. Andrae Kirk had 10 tackles including a sack and a forced fumble for Florida Atlantic.
D.J. May’s 5-yard scoring run to start the fourth quarter put Wyoming up 17-16 before Greg Joseph’s fourth field goal gave Florida Atlantic the lead back with 8:14 left.
Johnson’s 14-yard keeper, one play after a circuitous 65-yard punt return by Lucky Whitehead, gave Florida Atlantic its first lead, 13-10, with 8:56 left in the third quarter. Joseph’s 43-yard field goal upped the margin to 16-10.
Owls Coach Charlie Partridge urged his team not to dwell on the defeat.
“I’ve been around some tough losses,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and the way you bounce back is to coach and go back to work tomorrow.”
Two weeks earlier, Kirkegaard drove the Cowboys 75 yards for a last-minute win over Air Force.
“This off-season we preached so much on finishing, finishing, finishing,” he said. “It’s pretty cool that we finished two games like that.”
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