Raghib Ismail Jr.’s late TD lifts Wyoming over Wofford 17-14
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Raghib Ismail Jr.’s 9-yard touchdown catch from Tyler Vander Waal with 17 seconds left capped a frantic 80-yard drive and lifted Wyoming over Wofford 17-14 on Saturday.
Wyoming (2-2) struggled on offense until Vander Waal caught fire in the fourth quarter, passing for 164 of his 224 yards.
Wofford (2-1) appeared to have secured a rare win against an FBS opponent when linebacker Robbie Armstrong hit Vander Vaal as he threw, allowing Weston Rountree to intercept with 3:25 to play.
But the Terriers gained only one first down and punted, setting up the Cowboys’ game-winning drive with 1:59 remaining. On the winning play, Ismail sliced right to left across the middle, taking Vander Waal’s toss at the 5, eluding a tackle by Rountree and diving into the front left corner of the end zone.
Vander Waal said he just tried to stay calm.
“I told the guys before we went out there that we have two minutes to go 80 yards and score,” he said. “We worked too hard in the summer to not win this game.”
Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said his team showed a “steady hand and staying positive” in the last two minutes, and he complimented his quarterback’s poise.
“That’s one of the harder things in sports because you’re looking at managing the clock, protections, formations, improvise — and I thought Tyler did that,” Bohl said.
Armstrong thought he had forced a fumble on Wyoming’s previous series, but Vander Waal’s arm was moving forward on the play that led to Rountree’s interception and 15-yard return that appeared to seal the deal for Wofford.
“I was just excited,” Armstrong said of the forced turnover. “I thought our offense was good enough to just punch it in and do whatever we needed to do to win the game. We came out on the wrong side.”
Andrew Wingard led Wyoming’s defense with a game-high 12 tackles plus an interception, his first of the season and ninth of his career.
Wofford’s Joe Newman, who was 9 of 15 for 73 yards passing with two interceptions, faked a handoff up the middle then raced around right end untouched for a 4-yard TD that put the Terriers up 14-10 with 13:06 remaining.
Andre Stoddard’s punishing 4-yard TD run had given Wofford a 7-3 lead in the second quarter but Vander Waal split two defenders with a 6-yard strike over the middle to Tyree Mayfield, leaving the Cowboys ahead 10-7 at the half. It was Vander Waal’s first scoring toss of the season and his career. His second, to the son of former NFL and college star Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, allowed the QB to finish with a career-best 224 yards. He completed 25 of 42 passes with one interception.
Wyoming was without its top two rushers, Nico Evans (ribs) and Jevon Bigelow (concussion). Xazavian Valladay carried 15 times for 57 yards.
Wofford’s Lennox McAfee led all runners with 91 yards on 13 attempts. Stoddard added 61 yards on 17 carries.
Blake Morgan had six receptions for 48 yards for Wofford. Wyoming’s Austin Conway led all receivers with 11 catches for 89 yards.
Wofford coach Josh Conklin said his team needs to win an FBS game to take the program where it needs to go.
“We will take a lot from it,” he said. “We could have won the game as an offense in a four-minute situation. We did not do it. And then we could have won the game as a defense in a two-minute situation and did not do it.”
Wofford: After a school-best 671 yards last week against VMI, the Terriers were hoping their offense would shine again against a Wyoming defense that was shredded the previous two weeks. For most of the game, it was the defense that rose to the occasion. The last drive by Wyoming soured an otherwise outstanding effort and Wofford fell to 1-20 against FBS competition.
Wyoming: Playing their final non-conference game, the Cowboys needed a confidence boost after two blowout losses to Power 5 teams. A loss to an FCS team would have been devastating. Wyoming still has plenty of questions on offense, but the defense was much improved, and Vander Waal looked very confident on the final two drives.
Wofford: The Terriers take next weekend off before their final pre-Southern Conference tuneup, Sept. 29 at Gardner-Webb.
Wyoming: After a bye week, the Cowboys open Mountain West play by hosting Boise State Sept. 29. The Broncos are the defending Mountain Division champions, and the two teams shared the title in 2016 with New Mexico.
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