Kari Eakins, Townsquare Media

Brett Smith threw for 235 yards and 4 touchdowns, ran for another, and the Wyoming Cowboys won the 104th edition of the Border War over rival Colorado State 45-31 Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. The victory marked the fourth consecutive win in the series for the Pokes for the first time since 1970-1973.

A 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by Sophomore Cornerback Blair Burns with 3:27 left in the first quarter turned the tide. Both teams had scored on their opening drive, and with the Rams driving, Burns picked off a tipped pass on 3rd-and-goal and went the other way. It was part of 21 straight points for UW and a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter. Burns return t-d was sandwiched between two Smith touchdown tosses to Brandon Miller and Robert Herron, of 16 and 9 yards, respectively.

Senior Defensive Lineman Mike Purcell (seen holding the Bronze Boot) of Highlands Ranch, Colorado said, “It’s absolutely huge (to win this game). The team understands, and even the Freshmen this year, how big of a game this is to face that team down south. This game’s always gonna be a close game, a tough one. We came out, we wanted a little more, and we kept that boot in Laramie.”

Wyoming (2-7, 1-4) led 28-14 at halftime and built that lead to 42-17 on a 5-yd touchdown run from Smith and a 3-yd touchdown pass from Smith to Dominic Rufran. After a Stuart Williams 31 yard field goal, CSU scored twice in the final quarter to close the gap. When the Cowboys got the ball back with 6:48 left, they chewed up the clock thanks to their run game. They picked up four key first downs and didn’t give the Rams another chance.

Cowboy Head Coach Dave Christensen said, “This game’s about more than our football team. This game is about the State of Wyoming, the University of Wyoming, the fan base for UW, every player that’s ever played in the game and every athlete that has ever gone through here and competed against those guys. It’s big, and the best thing is that “The Boot’s” gonna remain here for the fourth straight year. That’s huge in our program.”

UW’s first score was a 26-yard Smith to Chris McNeill t-d pass. The Rams answered 11 seconds later on a 75-yard scoring pass off a deflected ball.

The Cowboys won with one of their most balanced offensive efforts of the season. Of UW’s 468 total yards of offense, 240 yards went through the air and 228 yards were pounded on the ground. Colorado State (2-7, 1-4) finished with 512 total yards, which included 387 through the air.

Christensen also said, “Does it make everything else okay, no. But, for tonight, those kids are going to feel like champions.”

This is Wyoming’s first win at War Memorial Stadium of the 2012 season. UW will continue conference play at New Mexico on Saturday, November 10. Kick off is set for 1:30 p.m. with coverage starting on KOWB at 12:30 p.m.