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LARAMIE — What happened last year in Vegas did not stay in Vegas.

Wyoming’s players have not forgotten about their atrocious 17-16 loss to New Mexico in a bizarre 2020 game played at an empty Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Land of Enchantment.

It was the first victory for Danny Gonzales as the Lobos’ head coach. New Mexico also ended the program’s 14-game losing skid dating back to Sept. 21, 2019 and a 20-game Mountain West Conference losing streak dating back to Oct. 6, 2018 at the Cowboys’ expense.

Quarterback Levi Williams finished 4-for-12 for 73 yards with no touchdowns and an interception before being replaced due to injury by Gavin Beerup, who was 1-for-5 for 18 yards and an interception.

The Pokes were still in position to pull out the win, but Trey Smith fumbled at the New Mexico 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

UW hosts New Mexico in the rematch on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium (1:30 p.m., Stadium).

“Wasn’t a fun one, that’s for sure,” Williams recalled this week. “It was kind of chilly that night, the lights were a little dim, there were no fans, not a lot of energy. You had to kind of create your own energy. I just remember we had a lot of misfires on offense that killed us.”

The Cowboys (4-2, 0-2 MWC) are struggling again on offense after failing to put a single point on the scoreboard over the last six quarters in back-to-back losses to Air Force and Fresno State.

Craig Bohl reopened up the quarterback competition after Sean Chambers, the starter for the first six games, threw three interceptions and lost a fumble during last week’s 17-0 loss to the Bulldogs.

UW’s head coach will not announce whether Chambers or Williams is the starter for the homecoming game before kickoff. Bohl wanted to make it clear the offensive line and skill players also need to play better.

“The quarterback gets a lot of attention; that’s just the nature of the position,” Bohl said. “But many people were a part of that goose egg, including me.”

Xazavian Valladay, who missed last year’s game against New Mexico due to injury, only had nine carries for 35 yards against Fresno State. Titus Swen added seven carries for 36 yards.

Chambers, despite getting sacked three times, was actually UW’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 51 net yards. However, his fumble on the second snap set the tone for the offense after the defense forced a three-and-out to start the game.

“I think both of these losses that we’ve had, you can turn on the film and it’s not that the talent and effort wasn’t there from this team,” defensive end Garrett Crall said. “It’s not an issue of talent. There has been years in the past when you can say a team just flat-out beat you. I don’t think that’s the case.

“We’ve just got to be able to start fast on both sides of the ball.”

The Lobos (2-5, 0-3) are struggling even more than UW on offense. Check that, the Lobos are struggling even more than any FBS offense.

New Mexico is tied with Arizona for 129th (last) in scoring (14.0 points per game) and rank 130th in total yards (253.0 per game).

During last week’s 36-7 loss to Colorado State, the Lobos set a record for futility in a MWC game with 69 yards of total offense. Their only touchdown came on a punt return.

New Mexico’s only score in a 31-7 loss at San Diego State in the previous game was on a fumble return for a touchdown by Rocky Long’s defense.

“I’m really disappointed in what we are doing on offense, production-wise,” Gonzales said. “Sixty-nine yards is horrendous. So we have to get back to the basics and fundamentals of blocking people and running the football. We are not good enough on defense yet to have to hold people to nothing to win, and the last two weeks we would have had to do that.”

The Cowboys are 20-point favorites over the Lobos, who have lost 16 consecutive road games.

But they haven’t forgotten about the last meeting in Las Vegas.

“Very frustrating,” senior wide receiver Ayden Eberhardt said of the previous meeting with New Mexico. “That’s definitely one that lingers and one that you remember for sure.”

Follow UW beat writer Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn

This article originally ran on

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