6:00 PM ET, October 18, 2003
War Memorial Stadium (WY), Laramie, WY
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) -- Maligned for several seasons for giving up too many yards and too many points, the Wyoming defense at last stepped up, and on a day the offense was seriously struggling.
The Cowboys on Saturday had four sacks and forced three turnovers against BYU, including a 60-yard interception return by linebacker Tyler Gottschalk for the Cowboys' only touchdown in the 13-10 Mountain West Conference victory.
Gottschalk's first career interception put Wyoming (3-4, 1-1 MWC) ahead 13-0 in the second quarter, and the win was sealed when Terrell Vinson intercepted a pass tipped by teammate John Flora with 43 seconds left.
It was the fewest points allowed by the Cowboys in a conference game since a 10-7 win at Air Force in 1999.
"This feels great," Gottschalk said. "BYU does have one of the better offenses in the conference, but our defense came up big today. ... We knew there was going to be a turning point and today I think we finally crossed over and made that turn."
Flora, a defensive end, was modest about his tip of the pass by Matt Berry at the Wyoming 30 with less than a minute left.
"I saw Berry looking around and he was going to throw it straight up, so I just went up and put the hands up and luckily I was fortunate enough to make that and Terrell made a beautiful interception," he said. "This is a big victory for the state of Wyoming. This is what the Cowboys are going to be about from here on out."
Of the interception, his only one of the game, Berry said, "The guy was open. We threw it on time, but it was just bad luck. It hit him (Flora) and went straight up in the air and they made a play."
Berry, battling the flu and playing for the first time since missing four games with a broken passing hand, said Wyoming zone-blitzed more than he expected.
"That kind of caught us by surprise," he said.
Berry said he was still bothered by his hand, which has a long scar.
"It affected my grip. It really did," he said.
The Cowboys held the Cougars (3-5, 2-3) to 325 yards -- five below their average -- but gained only 225 yards after coming in averaging 386.
BYU was hurt by 10 penalties, including six for offside infractions.
Cougars defensive end John Denney, who had a sack, another stop for a loss and an interception, said he thought the defense was being drawn offside by the center's twitching, but he added, "That's uncalled for on our part. As a defense it's unacceptable to have that many offsides."
Wyoming had one penalty for 5 yards.
"We came back and we had a chance to score at the end of the game," BYU coach Gary Crowton said. "The ball got tipped and the game was over. It was heartbreaking."
Wyoming coach Joe Glenn was thrilled to see the goal posts come down after the game.
"The defense stepped up and got us this win," he said. "Our special teams did a great job with field position tonight. ... It really is all starting to come together. We are all starting to come together as a family and it is really special."
BYU nearly rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit, but Brandon Casavan and Randy Tscharner sacked Berry on fourth-and-2 from the 50-yard line with 3 minutes left and the Cougars trailing by three.
After Wyoming punted, Berry drove the Cougars 60 yards before Flora and Vinson snuffed out BYU's last chance.
Casey Bramlet completed 20 of 32 passes for 140 yards for the Cowboys and was intercepted twice.
Berry was 21-of-34 passing for 225 yards and picked off once.
Freshman John Beck, relieving Berry for a possession in the second quarter, attempted to hit Daniel Coats on a long pass, but Gottschalk picked the ball off in full stride and ran down the BYU sideline untouched at the 6:39 mark.
The Cowboys had a chance to go up 20-0 just before halftime but BYU's Ifo Pili forced Ivan Harrison to fumble on the BYU 2 with 59 seconds left. Brady Poppinga recovered for the Cougars.
Naufahu Tahi's 3-yard TD run for BYU made it 13-10 with 5:53 left in the game. Matt Payne had kicked a 30-yard field goal in the third quarter to snap a four-quarter scoring drought by the Cougars dating back to last week's 58-13 loss to Colorado State.
Deric Yaussi had field goals of 42 and 43 yards to put the Cowboys up 6-0.
Jacque Finn had a game-high 12 tackles but suffered a knee injury. He will be reevaluated Monday.