Wyoming’s opportunistic defense took advantage of costly Missouri turnovers and quarterback Sean Chambers and running back Xazavian Valladay each rushed for more than 100 yards as the Cowboys upset the Tigers 37-31 in Laramie, Wyo., in the season opener for both teams.
Chambers ran for 120 yards on 12 carries, including a 75-yard score that broke a 17-17 tie late in the second quarter. Valladay gained 118 yards on 15 carries with a 61-yard run to the end zone also in the second quarter. After trailing 14-0 after the first quarter, the Cowboys outscored the Tigers 27-3 in the second.
Wyoming, an 18-point underdog by some oddsmakers coming into the game, rushed for 297 yards on 42 carries (7.1 yards per carry).
Missouri, on the other hand, ran for 114 yards. Instead, the Tigers relied mostly on the arm of Kelly Bryant. He completed 31 of 48 pass attempts for 423 yards with two touchdowns — both to Jonathan Nance — and an interception.
Bryant completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Nance with 6:19 left in regulation to cut the lead to 37-31. After a seven-play possession stalled for Wyoming, Missouri started its last possession with 2:19 remaining at its 25-yard line.
Bryant engineered a string of positive plays to the Wyoming 20 before defensive end Josiah Hall sacked him for a 6-yard loss with 41 seconds left to make it third-and-12 at the 26. Bryant then threw consecutive incomplete passes to end the threat.
The Tigers twice drove deep into Wyoming territory — to the Cowboys’ 1-yard line and 2-yard line — and came up empty-handed because of turnovers.
With 15 seconds left in the first half and Missouri at the Wyoming 1, running back Larry Rountree III fumbled on a third-down play and safety Alijah Halliburton returned it 79 yards to the Missouri 12, where Bryant tackled him but was flagged for a horse-collar play.
With no time on the clock, the penalty allowed an untimed down and Cooper Rothe made a 23-yard field goal to give Wyoming a 27-17 lead at the half.
Earlier in the second quarter, Bryant fumbled as he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage and cornerback C.J. Coldon recovered the ball and returned it 30 yards for a score.
The Cowboys had more points than offensive plays (24) in the first half thanks to the big plays on both sides of the ball.
Missouri drove to the Wyoming 2 in its first possession of the third quarter, but after an offensive pass interference penalty pushed the ball back to the 17, Bryant was intercepted in the end zone by linebacker Cassh Maluia.
The Cowboys then went 80 yards on 11 plays, taking 5:43 off the clock and scoring on a 1-yard run by Trey Smith to increase the lead to 34-17 with 4:21 left in the third quarter. Chambers had a 26-yard run on the drive.
—Field Level Media