Glenn's big play wiped out by flag

Updated: October 1, 2003, 10:59 PM ET

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Wyoming coach Joe Glenn had implored his Cowboy defense all week long to step up and make a big play when it counted most. Glenn's focus was having his team get a lead, and then make a play on defense to allow the Cowboys to extend that lead.

Midway through the second quarter of Saturday's game with Boise State in Boise, the Cowboys had the heavily favored Broncos backpedaling while enjoying a 14-7 lead. It was one of those situations Glenn had been harping about all week long.

With a first-and-10 on their own 42-yard line, Boise State quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie took the snap, rolled to his right and cut loose with a pass intended for wide receiver Tim Gilligan.

Fifteen yards downfield, Wyoming cornerback Chris Dixon made an outstanding break on the ball, brushed past Gilligan's shoulder and intercepted the pass.

Dixon returned the ball down the sideline before being rolled out of bounds on the Broncos' 4-yard line.

The Cowboys' jubilation of Dixon's big play was short-lived, however. Unbeknownst to Dixon and his UW teammates, a flag had been thrown on the play. An official from a WAC crew had flagged Dixon for pass interference on the interception.

"I watched a lot of film on Boise State during the week and I knew he (Gilligan) was going to run a curl route," said the 6-foot, 181-pound Dixon. "They had done it two times before that. I jammed him, saw the ball in the air and made the play.

"It wasn't until I rolled over (on the BSU 4) that I saw there was a flag. It messed everything up."

Instead of the Cowboys having the ball 4 yards away from a 21-7 lead, Boise State had it back on the Cowboy 45-yard line. Five plays later, the Broncos scored on a 23-yard screen pass from Dinwiddie to tailback Donny heck to tie the game at 14-14 with 1:08 left in the half.

The turn of events seemed to unravel the Cowboys, who suffered a blocked punt out of the end zone for a safety with 40 seconds left in the half. That was followed by a UW kickoff that went out of bounds, giving BSU the ball on the 50, which the Broncos turn into a field goal as the half ended.

A likely 21-7 Wyoming lead had tuned into a 19-14 halftime deficit in a matter of moments due to the pass interference call. Boise State went on to win 33-17.

"I thought it was a bad call," Dixon said. "I talked to the ref after that, and he said I ran through him (Gilligan), and I can't do that. I just used my technique, jumped in front of him and picked the ball off.

"Like I said, it was a bad call and it changed the game around. It's something we just have to live with now. It's all over with."

Glenn was quick to agree with his senior cornerback, who leads the Cowboys with two pass interceptions and 21 tackles.

"I thought he made a tremendous play," Glenn said. "He intercepted a pass and returned it 60 yards to put us in scoring position, and lo and behold there was a mysterious call on us. That was too bad. To me, it was a great play. He's a guy who can do things like that."

Dixon transferred to Wyoming in January 2002 following a highly successful two years as a safety at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss. Earlier that fall (2001), Dixon earned second-team Mississippi Junior College all-state honors and was named the Most Valuable Player in the Mississippi JC all-star game.

Those honors followed a sophomore season at Hinds in which he recorded 53 tackles, had four quarterback sacks, five tackles for losses, caused two fumbles, had two pass breakups and intercepted three passes.

"I never heard of Wyoming before until Coach (Vic) Koenning looked at some film and offered me a scholarship," said Dixon, who played his prep ball at Jim Hill High School in Jackson, Miss., where he was an all-district defensive back and wide receiver.

"When I made my visit my teammates were so cool, so I said I was going to come to Wyoming."

Dixon became a starter for the Cowboys last year in UW's third game of the season against Boise State. He went on to record 60 tackles, had three tackles for losses, forced a fumble and broke up three passes.

He has now started 15 consecutive games at cornerback for the Pokes.

"Chris is the strong, silent type," Glenn added. "You can count on him going out and doing his job and not worry about it. He's had some big plays this year, and there are still more to come."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index