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QBs shine in spring game for Cowboys

Apr 28, 2013 - From staff reports

The Wyoming Cowboy football team concluded its 2013 spring football practices with the annual Spring Game on Saturday.

On a beautiful day, with temperatures hovering around 60, the Cowboy offense defeated the Cowboy defense 92-60 in a game that included 99 plays from scrimmage.

It was the final of 15 spring practices for the Cowboys, who began spring ball back on March 26.

Leading the offense on Saturday was junior quarterback Brett Smith, who completed 9 of 13 passes (69.2 percent) for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

Sophomore quarterback Jason Thompson also had an outstanding day, completing 13 of 17 passes (76.4 yards) for 155 yards, and he threw two TD passes.

Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard rounded out the outstanding quarterback play, connecting on 10 of 20 pass attempts (50.0 percent) for 105 yards and one TD. Kirkegaard did throw two interceptions.

The leading targets for the Cowboy quarterbacks were senior wide receiver Robert Herron, who led the Pokes with 116 yards receiving on four receptions.

Two of Herron's catches resulted in touchdowns of 36 and 26 yards. Both those TD passes were thrown by Smith. Junior wide receiver Jalen Claiborne also recorded a 100-yard re-ceiving day, catching a team high five passes for 100 yards.

Claiborne, like Herron, caught two TD passes -- a six-yarder from Thompson and a 57-yarder from Smith. The offense threw a total of six touchdown passes in the game. The other two were a 41-yard completion from Thompson to junior wide receiver Justin Berger and a 23-yard connection from Kirkegaard to redshirt freshman wide receiver Eric Nzeocha.

For the defense, redshirt freshman outside linebacker Lucas Wacha began the game on a high note, intercepting a pass on the first possession of the game and returning it 16 yards.

Wacha continued his outstanding play throughout the day, leading the Cowboys in tackles, with eight and breaking up another pass.

Senior defensive back Marqueston Huff came up with the other interception for the defense. Huff picked off a pass in the second quarter and returned it 54-yards for a touchdown. He was the second-leading tackler for the Pokes on Saturday, recording six total tackles.

"I thought there was a lot of spirit, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy out there today," said fifth-year Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen. "There were a lot of good things on both sides of the football.

"The (number) one defense played well when they were out there except for one drive. I thought the (number) one offense started out slow, but picked it up and got going. The big thing is we got through healthy, which is the number one thing in the Spring Game. Overall, I thought our kids had a productive spring.

"We started running the ball a little more efficiently, but we've got to continue to work on that. There are some things we didn't do in the game today that we'll be doing in the fall.

"We'll sit down tonight and continue to evaluate the personnel and continue to work on getting the right pieces in place as we go into training camp in the fall."

Saturday's Spring Game utilized the same scoring system the team used all spring to score scrimmages. The scoring system awarded the offense and defense points based on certain plays.

The day started much like it had in previous spring scrimmages, with the defense jumping out to a 21-13 lead after the first quarter. In that first quarter, the defense began the first series with Wacha's interception.

The next series ended on a pass breakup by freshman cornerback Cooper Wise, off of Smith. The defense forced three successive punts on the final three possessions of the first quarter, with junior defensive end Sonny Puletasi coming up with a sack of eight yards to force the Cowboy offense into its final punt of the quarter.

In the second quarter, the defense forced another punt in the opening series.

The offense committed its only two penalties of the day on that drive -- a false start penalty and an illegal forward pass when Smith crossed the line of scrimmage as he scrambled out of his own end zone to avoid the rush. The next series saw the defense commit two penalties of its own -- both facemask penalties -- but the defense as freshman place-kicker Ethan Wood missed a 42-yard field-goal.

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