LARAMIE, Wyo. -- A victory drought of nearly 12 months ended for Wyoming as both the offense and defense made enough big plays and limited enough mistakes to end a nine-game losing streak. Cam Coffman threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns and Brian Hill rushed for 188 yards as the Cowboys beat Nevada 28-21 on Saturday afternoon.
Coffman completed 18 of 20 passes with no interceptions and had 32 yards rushing for Wyoming (1-6, 1-2 Mountain West). It was the Cowboys' first win since beating Fresno State 45-17 on Nov. 1, 2014.
"I couldn't be happier for our players," Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. "A young football team is going to recognize that good things will happen. This win is a credit to their character."
Hill posted his fourth-highest rushing total on a career-high 33 carries and has gained more than 100 yards in nine of his last 12 games.
"I feel like we have finally figured it out," he said. "It's an exciting feeling right now."
Tyler Stewart completed 25 of 41 attempts for 287 yards and two TDs for Nevada (3-4, 1-2). His 7-yarder to Jerico Richardson, who made a juggling catch while falling backward, drew the Wolf Pack within 28-21 with 6:36 remaining.
Nevada forced a punt, but Stewart was sacked by D.J. May on 4th-and-5 from the Cowboys 36 with 1:36 remaining. Wyoming blitzed and Eric Nzeocha knocked the ball from Stewart, but the quarterback recovered and was drilled by May for an 18-yard loss.
The play was likely the biggest this season for the Cowboys defense.
"We never change our mentality, and our fight has always been there," May said. "We have a lot of first-year guys out there and it's beginning to feel like we are coming together."
Nevada coach Brian Polian said his staff emphasized all week that Wyoming was more talented than an 0-6 team.
"I feel like they won the physical battle today," he said. "We didn't get off blocks. We didn't tackle. There were multiple times where we hit the running back on the line of scrimmage and the pile moves forward for 4 or 5 yards. That's not acceptable."
Stewart missed wide-open receivers twice in the third quarter as Nevada attempted a comeback.
"I can't miss those throws," Stewart said. "They were both wide open. Both would have been touchdowns, probably."
Wyoming went ahead 28-7 with 11:21 left in the third quarter on a 5-yard rush by Kellen Overstreet through a pile of defenders. Later in the period, Stewart drove the Wolf Pack 79 yards and tossed a 12-yard pass to Jerrod Gipson to make it 28-14.
The Cowboys had gone up 21-7 with 27 seconds left before halftime when Coffman found Jake Maulhardt standing alone in the back left corner of the end zone. Maulhardt had six receptions for 54 yards.
Jacob Hollister caught an 18-yard TD pass to put the Cowboys up 7-0 early in the second quarter. Hollister gathered the ball near the left sideline then bowled over Asauni Rufus at the 8 on his way to the score.
After Nevada tied it 7-7 on a 7-yard run off left tackle by Don Jackson, Coffman spun 360 degrees on a scramble and hit Tanner Gentry down the left sideline for a 27-yard score. Gentry was heavily defended by Elijah Moody but outfought him to make the catch at the goal line.
Brent Zuzo had not missed a field goal in seven previous tries for Nevada this season, but the streak ended with a 52-yard miss in the second quarter.
Jordan Dorich led the Wolf Pack defense with 13 tackles, while Rufus added nine. For Wyoming, May finished with nine tackles, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a sack. Andrew Wingard and C.J. Jennings also had nine tackles apiece for the Cowboys.
The game featured no turnovers.
Wyoming's offense tallied a season-high 485 yards and the Cowboys held a halftime lead for the first time in 10 games dating back to last season. It was the first time Wyoming did not yield a sack this season, a frustration for Nevada defensive end Lenny Jones.
"Up front, we didn't get enough pressure on them," he said. "We got some hits on them, but hits don't mean anything. You've got to sack the guy."