COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

Allen fuels Wyoming to Potato Bowl victory

Sports Xchange

December 22, 2017 at 7:44 pm.

Dec 22, 2017; Boise, ID, USA; Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Josh Allen (17) takes the snap  from center during the first half of the 2017 Potato Bowl versus Central Michigan Chippewas at Albertsons Stadium. Photo Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 22, 2017; Boise, ID, USA; Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Josh Allen (17) takes the snap from center during the first half of the 2017 Potato Bowl versus Central Michigan Chippewas at Albertsons Stadium. Photo Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

BOISE, Idaho — Quarterback Josh Allen and an opportunistic defense led the Wyoming Cowboys to their first bowl win in eight years Friday afternoon in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Allen, a potential first-round pick in the NFL draft, fired three touchdown passes in the first quarter and the defense collected eight turnovers to lead the 37-14 victory over Central Michigan.

Wyoming (8-5) now leads the nation with 38 takeaways this season. The Cowboys finished 8-3 in games started by Allen, a junior who was honored on senior day and is expected to leave for the NFL.

Allen was 11 of 18 passing for 154 yards and the three scores against the Chippewas (8-5). He was under duress much of the game from the stout Central Michigan defense.

The Wyoming defense was even better, rattling quarterback Shane Morris with constant pressure. Morris was responsible for six turnovers, including four interceptions. The miscues made irrelevant his 329 yards passing.

Wyoming clinched the win with a 58-yard fumble return by defensive end Carl Granderson early in the fourth quarter. Morris had fumbled on a sack by defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan.

Wyoming opened a 27-7 halftime lead that should have been much larger.

The Cowboys started five drives in Chippewas’ territory — four because of turnovers. The mistakes resulted in just 13 points on a touchdown, two field goals and an empty possession that ended with a punt.

Wyoming enjoyed a major boost from the return of Allen, who missed the final two regular-season games with an injury to his throwing shoulder. There was some doubt whether the high-end NFL prospect would play in the bowl game but he said he never thought of skipping it.

With John Elway of the Denver Broncos among the NFL representatives in attendance, Allen started hot. He was 6-for-7 for 104 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter. He fired a laser over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown to Jared Scott, scrambled and threw to Austin Conway for an 11-yard touchdown in the front corner of the end zone and lofted a pretty deep ball to C.J. Johnson for a 45-yard score.

Central Michigan didn’t snap the ball in Wyoming territory in the half but got a touchdown in the first quarter. Jonathan Ward slipped free down the left sideline. Morris found him and Ward beat the Cowboys defenders to the pylon for the 74-yard score.

Wyoming led 21-7 after the first quarter but only added two field goals in the second quarter. Allen was 2 for 6 for 18 yards in the quarter.

NOTES: Central Michigan wore “Oh My!” helmet stickers in honor of alum and legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg, who died Thursday at age 82. … Denver Broncos general manager John Elway wasn’t the only NFL executive in attendance. At least one NFL team owner was scheduled to attend the Potato Bowl, likely to evaluate Allen. … Wyoming WR Jared Scott opened the scoring with a touchdown catch. It was his second catch of the year, both touchdowns.