Wyoming Edges UCLA to Win Las Vegas Bowl

Thursday, December 23rd 2004, 8:44 pm
By: News On 6

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ When Corey Bramlet and John Wadkowski broke the huddle, they knew the Las Vegas Bowl was there for the taking. And take it they did, with Bramlet drilling the ball to the wide-open Wadkowski with 57 seconds left to give Wyoming a 24-21 victory over UCLA on Thursday night, the Cowboys' first bowl victory since 1966.

``I knew what the coverage was and what they were giving us, and I knew it was there,'' Bramlet said.

Wadkowski knew it, too.

``When we broke the huddle, Corey said to me, `Make a play,''' Wadkowski said.

The Wyoming players mobbed each other on the field, swapping hugs and high-fives, after the final seconds ticked off.

``I couldn't be happier for our whole team, and I think it is a shot of spirit for our whole state,'' second-year Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said.

After beating Florida State in the 1966 Sun Bowl, the Cowboys lost their next six bowl games and hadn't even been invited to one since 1993.

Glenn said a letter from Tom Frazier, a friend of his, helped inspire the Cowboys.

``Since 1966, we hadn't won a bowl game, and the captain of that team (Frazier) wrote our team a great letter,'' Glenn said. ``He said that there's nothing like standing on the field looking at the scoreboard, walking away as a senior and winning a bowl game in your last year.

``Now our guys can do that.''

In the only other bowl game Thursday night, Cincinnati beat Marshall 32-14 in the Fort Worth Bowl. On Friday night, UAB will face Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

Bramlet, 20-of-34 for 307 yards and two touchdowns, drove the Cowboys 72 yards to the winning score. The drive began with 4:02 remaining, after UCLA's Justin Medlock missed a 45-yard field goal on what turned out to be a critical play.

Bramlet kept the final march going with a quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-1, getting the first down by just a few inches at the UCLA 27. A pass-interference call against cornerback Matt Clark moved the ball to the 12, and Bramlet put the ball right on target to Wadkowski.

Jovon Bouknight had five catches for 107 yards and threw a touchdown pass for Wyoming (7-5).

Trailing 21-10, the Cowboys closed within four points on a trick play early in the fourth quarter, with Bouknight throwing a 22-yard scoring pass to J.J. Raterink off a reverse.

Bramlet rallied the Cowboys after UCLA reserve quarterback David Koral threw two touchdown passes to put the Bruins ahead.

Koral, a junior college transfer who hadn't thrown a pass for UCLA, took over when Drew Olson went down with a sprained left knee 4:47 before halftime and the Bruins trailing 10-7.

Koral's second college pass went for a 17-yard touchdown to Craig Bragg with 1:50 left in the half, then he connected on a 25-yarder to Bragg midway though the third quarter to build the lead to 21-10.

Maurice Drew ran for 126 yards on 25 carries for UCLA, but the Bruins were inconsistent on offense.

``We played a lackluster football game,'' UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. ``They (the Cowboys) fought every inch of the way. They made plays at the end of the game and that was the difference.''

The Bruins (6-6) beat New Mexico 27-13 in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, the only win in their last five bowl appearances.

Koral finished 7-of-12 for 89 yards and the two touchdowns. Olson, who was 6-of-12 for 96 yards and one TD, twisted his knee on a sack by John Flora.

``Watching on the sidelines was the hardest thing I've had to do ever,'' Olson said. ``It's a helpless feeling.''

Koral said, ``I wish the outcome could have been different, that just kills me.''

Wyoming took a 10-0 first-quarter lead on Bramlet's 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Holden and Deric Yaussi's 39-yard field goal.

Fort Worth Bowl

Cincinnati 32, Marshall 14

At Fort Worth, Texas, Gino Guidugli returned from a broken throwing hand to pass for 231 yards and two touchdowns for Cincinnati (7-5).

Wearing a padded glove on his still very swollen right hand, which he injured on Nov. 20, Guidugli completed 24 of 36 passes on a bitterly cold night.

After his only interception, which Marshall (6-6) returned for a score, Guidugli completed 10 straight passes and 14 of 16 in the second quarter. He threw both TD passes in that stretch to put Cincinnati ahead to stay.