Special teams, Cox fuel victory over Wyoming

Noah Gerringer

The Wyoming Cowboys (0-5, 0-1 Mountain West) came into Saturday looking for their first victory, while App State (3-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) looked for their fifth straight home win.  Even with Hurricane Joaquin putting a damper on the passing game, the Mountaineers were still able to use their legs and plenty of opportunities to come away with a solid 31-13 victory.

The first of those opportunities came on the Cowboys’ first drive in the red zone.  Cornerback Latrell Gibbs picked off Wyoming quarterback Cameron Coffman on the 9-yard line and took the ball 91 yards for the score.

It was Gibbs’ fourth interception in four games, tying him for second in the nation in interceptions. It was also his first career defensive touchdown as a Mountaineer.

Another opportunity came on a fourth down for App, as head coach Scott Satterfield originally planned to kick a field goal with less than a minute left in the half.  During a timeout he thought it over and called for a fake field goal in which punter Bentlee Critcher rolled to his right after catching the snap and pitched it to kicker Zach Matics.  Matics, after making contact at the first down marker, was able to just make his way for a first down.

“I couldn’t even see Bentlee,” Matics said. “All I know was that the ball was in my hand and I ran for the first down.”

In the next play, Taylor Lamb rewarded the risky play call and threw an 18-yard pass to Simms McElfresh in the back of the end zone to give the team a 21-7 lead before the half.

Marcus Cox led the Mountaineers after the half with a 50-yard dash down the middle of the field.  This not only set up a 9-yard rush touchdown by quarterback Taylor Lamb, but also gave Cox his seventh straight 100 yard rushing game. It was also his eighteenth career game topping the 100-yard mark, tying him with Armani Edwards for fourth all-time in App State history.  He also surpassed the 3,000-yard rushing mark in his career, putting him at sole possession of the No. 6 spot in the team history.

The rest of the game consisted of the Mountaineers trying to stop Wyoming running back Brian Hill, as he rushed for 208 yards, making him the first to do so against App in the last 10 years.  Once linebacker John Law and company were able to do so, they were able to lasso the Cowboys and hold them to just 13 points for the game.

Despite the win, Satterfield said the team had many areas to improve on. One specifically stood out.

“We were awful on third downs,” Satterfield said. “The ball was always two yards too far.”

Satterfield noted the impressive performance by the special teams throughout the victory.

“We were able to make plays when we needed to and that was a big key of the game,” Satterfield said.  “Special teams are one-third of the game and a huge aspect.”

Besides the successful fake field goal in the first half, Matics was also able to help out the offense with a kickoff in which the Cowboys botched the catch, resulting in a fumble, and by kicking a 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.  His previous career-long was 31 yards.

With the large exception of Hill rushing for over 200 yards, the Mountaineers, for the most part, were able to contain the Cowboys offensive threats.

Coffman came into the game leading the Mountain West Conference in many categories, including passing yards per game and total offense.   He was also No. 1 in completions per game in the conference and ranked 12th nationally.

Junior wide receiver Tanner Gentry, a member of the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the nation’s top receiver, was held to three receptions for 77 yards. He entered the game averaging 109.8 yards a game, good for 15th in the nation.

This game versus Wyoming was no walk in the park, although a 31-13 final score might make it sound so. Satterfield said that the game would be a perfect one to go back on film and dissect and analyze.

Although big plays were made, the Mountaineers have no time to ease up.  They dive straight into conference play next week facing off against a Georgia State team with home field advantage in the Georgia Dome.

With three wins already this season, the Mountaineers are halfway towards the six-win total required for bowl eligibility. Despite this fact, Satterfield said they refuse to look ahead.

“We know what we want to do, but that’s not our goal.  Our goal is the opponent at hand and once you start focusing on something else you’ll get beat.”

Georgia State (1-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) comes into next Saturday after a loss to Liberty.  Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Story by: Noah Gerringer, Intern Sports Reporter 

Photos by: Chris Deverell