Wyoming QB Brett Smith seen here in a game earlier this season. Photo by Kari Eakins, Townsquare Media

The Wyoming Cowboys failed to get two key defensive stops and lost their Mountain West Conference opener at Nevada Saturday night, 35-to-28 in overtime. UW surrendered the game-tying touchdown with 1:18 left in regulation and saw the Wolfpack score on the second play of overtime. Then the Cowboys couldn’t get the equalizer on their OT possession and fell in Reno.

Nevada (5-1, 2-0) back-up quarterback Devin Combs hit wide out Aaron Bradley on a 24-yard touchdown pass for the Wolfpack’s overtime touchdown. Wyoming had a chance to extend the game with a touchdown. After a 1-yard run by back-up quarterback Jason Thompson, the Cowboys threw three straight incomplete passes, and the game was over.

UW looked like they were headed for victory when the defense stopped Nevada at the Cowboy 4-yard line with 2:43 left. However, Wyoming was stopped on 3rd and 1 at their own 13 and forced to punt. Two plays later, Richy Turner got behind the Cowboy defense for a 44-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Combs. The extra point tied it at 28. Then UW ran three plays and settled for overtime.

Neither team finished the game with their star, starting quarterback. Wyoming’s Brett Smith was disqualified mid-way through the fourth quarter after a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on him. Meanwhile, Nevada’s Cody Fajardo left the game late in the first half with an injury and never returned.

Brett Smith threw for 197 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was also the Cowboys leading rusher with 60 yards and a score. Two of the t-d tosses went to Robert Herron, while Jalen Claiborne had the other. The Pokes finished with 350 yards of total offense, converted 11-of-20 third downs and had the football seven-and-a-half more minutes than the Wolfpack. Ghaali Muhammad led the Cowboy defense with a career-high 15 tackles, including 3 for loss and a sack. He also recovered a fumble.

Nevada rolled up 565 total yards, including 438 yards passing between the two quarterbacks, Fajardo and Combs.

The Wyoming Cowboys (1-4, 0-1) held a 28-21 lead early in the 4th quarter after a 17 play, 82 yard drive was capped off by Smith’s 8-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg. Smith was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the score. It was on the next UW possession that Smith was disqualified after a flag was waived off on a third down pass attempt which was incomplete.

The first half saw each take advantage of two turnovers by the other team. Wyoming struck first for a 7-0 lead on Smith’s 16-yard t-d pass to Herron. Nevada answered with 21 straight points, with two of those scores coming off an interception and fumble by Smith. Darrenn White’s interception led to Herron’s second t-d catch of 7 yards late in the first half. It was 21-14 Wolfpack at halftime.

The Cowboys tied it at 21 on their first drive of the second half, when Smith hit Claiborne on a 42-yard scoring pass.

Wyoming returns home for the first time in a month next Saturday when they face the Air Force Falcons for Homecoming at War Memorial Stadium. Kick off is at 5 pm. You can listen to Cowboy football on KOWB (AM 1290). Coverage will start at 2 pm with the KOWB Pokes Pre-game show. Don’t forget Cowboy Talk, with host David Settle, will follow the network broadcast on KOWB.