Second-half Aztec Charge Voids Quick UW Start

The Cowboys couldn't have asked for a better start against San Diego State Saturday night. But the Pokes failed to hold onto their biggest lead of the 2007 season, and the Aztecs made them pay down the stretch. Bowl eligibility will have to wait at least one more week.

For more than 59 minutes, it seemed Wyoming had conquered its turnover problem.

But with just 31 seconds remaining in the game, the Pokes' last-stitch drive came to an abrupt end when Aaron Moore intercepted a Karsten Sween pass, sealing a 27-24 victory for San Diego State Saturday night.

After posting seven turnovers in their last two games and then seeing their offense play mistake-free for most of contest with the Aztecs, it was a demoralizing way for the Cowboys to lose their third game in the last four weeks.

The Pokes' sixth-ranked defense shut down SDSU (3-5, 2-2 in Mountain West Conference) for most of the first half, and Wyoming (5-4, 2-3) jumped out to its biggest lead of the season before the Aztecs came charging back.

An interception by Julius Stinson on SDSU's first offensive play of the game set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from Sween to wide receiver Michael Ford.

Safety Quincy Rogers picked off SDSU quarterback Kevin O'Connell later in the first quarter and returned it 80 yards for the Cowboys' second touchdown, extending the lead to 14-0.

The Wyoming defense then forced the Aztecs into five consecutive punts, and Sween found Ford on a 30-yard strike with 1:18 left in the half to give the Cowboys a commanding 21-0 advantage.

But from that point on, San Diego State stole the momentum. O'Connell completed four straight passes on the Aztecs' ensuing drive and then ran the ball to the Cowboy five-yard line with 16 seconds on the clock. He found wide receiver Chaz Schilens two plays later for a five-yard touchdown, cutting the Wyoming lead to 21-7 at halftime.

The Aztecs proceeded to shut down Wyoming's offense in the second half, holding the Pokes to just one field goal, a 45-yarder by Billy Vinnedge with 12:12 left in the fourth quarter.

In the meantime, O'Connell engineered three more touchdown drives. The first came on the Aztecs' second possession of the second half. O'Connell found wide receiver Roberto Wallace on a 17-yard pass and then hit Brett Swain for 27 more yards. Another pass to Swain, this time for 14 yards, set up a 29-yard O'Connell touchdown scamper that pulled the Aztecs within 13-21. Stinson blocked the PAT, but on SDSU's next possession, O'Connell found Wallace on a 31-yard pass that set up a six-yard touchdown run by Brandon Sullivan, cutting the Cowboys' lead to 21-20.

Vinnedge's field goal made the score 24-20, but altogether, the Pokes punted the ball five times in the second half—their offense completely stifled by the San Diego State defense.

Swain returned the Cowboys' final punt 26 yards to the Wyoming 38-yard line, and O'Connell found wide receiver Vincent Brown for a 27-yard touchdown six plays later to give the Aztecs their first lead of the game at 27-24 with just 1:06 remaining.

The interception sealed the win.

Despite the two first-half picks , O'Connell finished the game with 292 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Swain finished with six receptions for 95 yards, and Brown added four catches for 52 yards and a score.

Ford led the Cowboys with four catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns, and Devin Moore added 20 carries for 60 yards. Sween finished an efficient 23-of-32 for 166 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sacked four times and the final interception was his 14th of the season.

The Cowboys face Utah in Salt Lake City next Saturday where they'll be looking to earn bowl eligibility for the second straight season.

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