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Cowboys end season with loss at USU

Dec 2, 2013 - The Associated Press

The Cowboys went out with a whimper.

Between the first and second quarter on Saturday, Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman and Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes stood in the north end zone inside Romney Stadium, each holding up a section of the "Bridger's Battle" rifle.

The two athletic directors, projected on the video board above their heads, smiled and made small talk, chatting as they held the rivalry's new traveling trophy for all to see.

It's unclear whether Burman waved goodbye to it before he let it go.

The Cowboys won't see the .50-caliber rifle for at least another year, as Utah State ended Wyoming's season on Saturday afternoon with a decisive 35-7 victory. Utah State's defense, which came into the game ranked seventh nationally allowing only 17.6 points per game, was as good as advertised.

Meanwhile, Wyoming's offense -- explosive against cellar-dwellers, inferior against contenders -- followed the usual script to a tee.

"Offensively, we struggled," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said after the loss. "We've had some injuries up front, and we just couldn't get movement off the ball to run it very well. We struggled getting open in coverage. They're going to be small seams, and you have to thread it in there against a great defense."

There was no "threading it in" on Saturday, as junior quarterback Brett Smith was held to only 162 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception, a week after throwing for 498 yards and seven scores in a win over Hawaii.

Brashly and consistently, the 8-4 Aggies dared Smith to beat them through the air, putting single coverage on Cowboy receivers Robert Herron and Dominic Rufran.

And just as often, Wyoming failed to convert.

"We came out here, passing-wise, and it was difficult. And running was difficult. But we just had to find something," running back Shaun Wick said, frustrated with his team's inability to adjust.

"We can't just stay with one thing and keep going with it and keep getting stopped."

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