3:00 PM ET, September 25, 2004
War Memorial Stadium, LITTLE ROCK, AR
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) -- Special teams, big defensive plays and a little razzle-dazzle carried Wyoming to its first victory over a Southeastern Conference team.
Josh Barge returned a punt 87 yards and caught a 69-yard pass from receiver Jovon Bouknight, and the defense forced five turnovers in Wyoming's 37-32 win over Mississippi on Saturday.
"Jovon made a great throw and I was off to the races," Barge said. "I'm pretty happy that I was able to run away from some good SEC players."
Wyoming coach Joe Glenn saw his team take a major step in his bid to resurrect a program that has not had a winning season since 1999.
"As a longtime coach, this is one of my most gratifying wins ever," he said. "This was a great test of our mettle and we had to compete every second to get it done."
Wyoming, which never trailed in improving to 2-1, was 0-8 vs. the SEC from 1951 to 2002. All the losses were on the road.
Ole Miss dropped to 1-3, the Rebels' worst start since 1988.
"We shared the loss across the board," Mississippi coach David Cutcliffe said. "I'm really disgusted with the penalties. We are not that kind of football team."
The Rebels were penalized 14 times for 97 yards. Wyoming had six penalties for 44 yards.
Vashon Pearson rushed for a career-high 139 yards on 21 carries for Mississippi, which had 221 yards on the ground. Mario Hill had a personal-best eight catches for 142 yards.
Joseph Harris rushed for 121 yards and a score for the Cowboys after stepping in for injured Ivan Harrison. Harris credited his blockers for the team's first 100-yard day by a rusher since the sixth game of last season.
"My performance today was due in part to our line stepping it up 110 percent from what they did the week before," he said. "Everyone got their assignments done."
Wyoming had 158 yards rushing and 239 passing for 397 total. Mississippi piled up 567 yards, including 346 through the air. But the Cowboys intercepted Ethan Flatt four times, including twice in the end zone, and Jacob Bonde forced him to fumble the ball away late.
One of the biggest plays for UW was a pick by Derrick Martin in the deep right corner of the end zone on a pass to Hill with 12:39 left and Wyoming clinging to a 30-22 lead.
"I had no help over the top so I had to force him outside," he said. "I was able to lean up against him, force him toward the sideline. I jumped up over the top of him and was able to catch it."
Flatt tested Martin repeatedly, but the cornerback broke up seven passes and had nine tackles along with his interception.
"I had a bad first half," Martin said. "We had a scheme that wasn't working. We switched up our schemes on them. I was able to press, get physical with them, and that's when I'm at my best."
Flatt, who completed 19 of 44 passes for 284 yards, felt like he let his team down.
"Obviously, being responsible for four turnovers, I feel like it's my fault," he said. "My teammates played well and I thought our team played well, especially at the end. We've just got to get back to the practice field and get better."
Micheal Spurlock, who began the season as the Rebels' starter but was benched last week, drove Ole Miss 80 yards to cut Wyoming's lead to 37-32 with 1:38 left.
After Mike Espy recovered an onside kick, Mississippi had one last chance, but Spurlock misfired on three passes, including a fourth-and-7 when Wyoming's Terrance Butler knocked the ball away from Espy.
Spurlock, who was 7 of 12 for 62 yards, wouldn't say whether he staked a claim to the starting job.
"I leave it up to the coaches," he said. "I'm just going out there and still competing. If it's my turn to go, it's my turn to go."
Jonathan Nichols' fourth field goal, from 43 yards, drew Mississippi within 30-25 with 6:45 remaining.
But three plays later, Bouknight took a handoff on a reverse and hit Barge in stride for the 69-yard TD, putting the Cowboys up 37-25.
Brandon Jacobs scored from a yard out with 1:38 left -- his second score -- to draw Ole Miss within 37-32 before the Cowboys snuffed out the Rebels' last chance.
Corey Bramlet completed 15 of 31 passes for 170 yards, including a 14-yard TD to Bouknight on Wyoming's first drive, set up by John Wendling's interception in the end zone.
Bouknight, who had six catches for 68 yards, moved into a tie with Steve Martinez for eighth on UW's career receptions list with 124.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-15||3-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-1|
|TD||7:48||JOVON BOUKNIGHT 14 YD PASS FROM COREY BRAMLET (DERIC YAUSSI KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||4:22||JONATHAN NICHOLS 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 61 yards.
|FG||10:42||JONATHAN NICHOLS 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 61 yards.
|TD||8:22||JOSEPH HARRIS 6 YD RUN (DERIC YAUSSI KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||7:38||BRANDON JACOBS 2 YD RUN (FAILED 2PT RUSH)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 69 yards.
|FG||4:31||DERIC YAUSSI 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 62 yards.
|FG||2:08||DERIC YAUSSI 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 9 yards.
|FG||0:39||JONATHAN NICHOLS 30 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 68 yards.
|TD||12:53||JOSH BARGE 87 YD PUNT RETURN (DERIC YAUSSI KICK)||15||27|
|FG||8:01||DERIC YAUSSI 33 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 32 yards.
|TD||3:09||MIKE ESPY 15 YD RUN (JONATHAN NICHOLS KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 46 yards.
|FG||6:45||JONATHAN NICHOLS 43 YD FG|
Drive info: 12 plays, 50 yards.
|TD||5:20||JOSH BARGE 69 YD PASS FROM JOVON BOUKNIGHT (DERIC YAUSSI KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:38||BRANDON JACOBS 1 YD RUN (JONATHAN NICHOLS KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.