It wasn't pretty, but the jinx is finally broken.
Coming off four straight years of 1-1 starts, Joe Glenn is undefeated after two games for the first time in his Wyoming career.
Wynel Seldon scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and Wyoming overcame a 14-18 second-half deficit to beat Utah State 32-18 Saturday.
"It's pretty special to come out of this weekend 2-0, and it's never happened in the time I've been here," Glenn said. "Our season started out right with our first two games at home in front of a friendly Wyoming crowd. I really think the crowd was a big part of this win."
After a dominating 23-3 victory over ACC foe Virginia in Week One, the Cowboys had to wait nearly three quarters to regain their season-opening swagger Saturday. In the end, it was well worth the wait for the 19,443 in attendance.
Three consecutive second-half Wyoming scoring drives closed out the Aggies, who fell just short of posting an impressive upset.
Down by four late in the third quarter, Wyoming put together an 8-play, 75-yard drive which ended with a Billy Vinnedge 25-yard field goal that cut the lead to 18-17 with 18 seconds left in the period.
Wyoming's defense forced the Aggies into a punting situation to end the next series, and the offense capitalized with another long drive (14 plays, 61 yards). After throwing two interceptions in the third quarter, Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween regained his composure in the fourth, hooking up with wideout Greg Bolling three times for 33 yards on the drive. Seldon's one-yard touchdown run with 6:54 left in the game made the score 23-18, and Sween found tight end Jesson Salyards in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
It was a redeeming moment for Salyards, who tipped a Sween pass into the hands of USU linebacker De'von Hall earlier in the half for one of the Aggies' two interceptions.
"It was just a tough grab," he said of Hall's pick. "I couldn't come up with it, but you just have to battle through it, think about the next play and be positive. You're just looking for that next chance to kind of redeem yourself. Luckily I got that, and we were able to capitalize on the two-point."
The Aggies had one last chance to come back on the ensuing drive, but defensive end John Fletcher hit USU quarterback Leon Jackson on third-and-six, forcing a fumble. Mitch Unrein dived on the ball, putting the Cowboy offense back on the field at the USU 28-yard line. Six straight rushing plays set up Seldon's final one-yard TD run, and Vinnedge's extra point made the score 32-18.
"It's hard because the kids are fighting and listening," USU head coach Brent Guy said after the game. "Our defense made some plays to get us back into the game, but in the end, we made plays that caused us to lose the game. They made plays that won the game."
After his two interceptions in the third quarter, Sween completed 10-of-13 passes during the Cowboys' final three scoring drives.
"I think Karsten Sween showed a lot of cool by coming back," Glenn said. "When he had to, he stood up and was the man and delivered three third-down-and-long completions.
"That shows his toughness."
Sween finished the game 19-of-32 for 180 yards, one touchdown and the two picks.
"Karsten's a warrior," Seldon said. "Everybody makes mistakes, but as an offense, we just try to come together and put it behind us. We just kept pushing and stayed behind Karsten."
As the game wore on, Sween began looking Bolling's way often, and the athletic sophomore responded, leading all receivers in the contest with six catches for 79 yards. His 25-yard touchdown grab on the Pokes' first possession of the second half gave the Cowboys their biggest lead to that point at 14-3.
"Me and Karsten have a good connection," Bolling said. "That's what summer workouts was for, seven on seven, and we just have that type of connection right now."
The Aggies put up 15 points in just over a minute during the third quarter. A 31-yard field goal by Peter Caldwell capped off a seven-play, 66-yard drive that brought USU within 6-14 with 4:40 left in the period. Hall returned his interception 38 yards for the Aggies' first score on the Cowboys' initial play of the ensuing series. Chris Ulinski's extra point failed, and Wyoming retained a slim 14-12 lead.
Sween's second interception—this time to cornerback Marquise Charle—on the Cowboys' next possession gave USU the ball on the Wyoming 16-yard line. Jackson hit wide receiver Kevin Robinson in the end zone on the next play to give Utah State its first lead at 18-14 with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter.
Wyoming pitched a shutout the rest of the way, but the game was more competitive than expected throughout.
"We had to play 60 minutes to get it, but we got the job done," Glenn said. "In retrospect, had we had an easy game, I don't think it would have meant much for us. Utah State came in here and played a great game, played their hearts out, and made us play through adversity and face tough times, and I think we're a better team for it."
The Aggies gave the Cowboys an early scare when they drove to the Wyoming three-yard line midway through the first quarter. On fourth-and-one, Jackson tripped over the leg of one of his offensive linemen and fell down, ending the potential scoring drive.
Wyoming put together a 13-play, 92-yard drive later in the period, and Hoost Marsh ran in a three-yard screen pass for the game's first score with 1:55 left in the quarter.
Utah State answered with a 29-yard field goal from Caldwell that made the score 3-7 with 11:26 in the second quarter.
Asked how the victory affected his team's confidence, Glenn was quick to respond:
"(It's) shaken probably a little bit. We went out and beat a BCS team, but this team was better than Virginia by far today," he said. "The fight went 12 rounds, and we were able to put them away in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth. That's about it."
The Cowboys received a big lift from tight end Wade Betschart, who caught a career-high five passes for a career-high 65 yards in the game, including a 27-yard tackle-breaking rumble in the third quarter that helped set up the Pokes' final comeback.
"We knew coming in what type of defense they were going to run with crossing routes, and at least two or three of my catches no one covered me," he said. "Karsten found me and that's how it goes."
Wyoming once again displayed balance in the running game. After combining for 199 yards rushing against Virginia, Seldon and fellow tailback Devin Moore each rushed for 85 yards against the Aggies.
"They seemed to feed off each other," Glenn said, "so if Devin did well, Wynel came in and did just as well. The two of them did a great job complementing each other."
Wyoming has now won seven of its last nine games. The stretch began Oct. 7, 2006 with a road win at New Mexico and has included victories over Utah, Colorado State, San Diego State, UNLV and Virginia.
The Cowboys will face their biggest test of the year to date next Saturday when they travel to Boise to take on the Broncos.
Log on tomorrow for a photo gallery of the Pokes' win.
Wyoming Gets Past Utah State
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