RENO, Nev. – At a game that had nearly no fans in attendance, the University of Wyoming found its own energy in the form of Sean Chambers, even though he was unable to play the majority of the game.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback and team captain was knocked out with a fibula injury just three plays into Saturday’s 37-34 overtime loss at Nevada. A UW spokesperson said it is potentially a broken fibula, and UW coach Craig Bohl said the injury could ultimately be season ending.
It would be the third consecutive season Chambers has seen his season end prematurely due to leg injury, as he broke his right ankle as a true freshman again Air Force, and suffered a left knee injury against the Wolf Pack in 2019 that required surgery.
Chambers was carted off the field but returned to the sideline, where he sat on the bench and stood on crutches for the remainder of the night without his pads or helmet in sight. Following his return to the bench, a group of wide receivers, including junior Gunner Gentry, embraced Chambers.
He couldn’t impact the game with his arm or his legs any longer, but Chambers was able to inspire his teammates just by being there. When the game went to overtime, it was Chambers, crutches and all, who came to midfield to call the coin toss.
“It just really goes to show the kind of person Sean is. He’s a big team first guy. He really will serve others before he serves himself,” Gentry said. “And that really goes to show, the way he came out on the field even though he was still in a ton of pain and still hurting, he still came out and supported us.
“He was locked in the whole game. He was vocal, he was energized. Just having that, I think, was huge. Just showing us that, no matter what, you can fight through anything.”
Bohl told reporters following the game that UW only brought two quarterbacks to Reno due to COVID-19 issues, meaning the team’s third quarterback would have been a wide receiver. Because of the lack of depth at the position, the play calling was altered from what it might normally have been, Bohl said.
Per UW’s online roster, the two other quarterbacks on the roster were freshmen Hank Gibbs and Gavin Beerup. In early October, 31 freshman football players were quarantined due to either positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing.
Bohl said he expects both freshman quarterbacks to return to the team Monday. Prior to kickoff Saturday, the team did not release specific names or the number of players who were unavailable to play.
“We were in a pretty scary situation, because we had Sean and then we had Levi, and we had our other two quarterbacks that we had all during fall camp were out because of COVID,” Bohl said. “We had a makeshift receiver that was going to go in and hadn’t taken one snap of anything offensively. So, that really changed the playbook that we had, and we were not able to do some of the things that Levi, I think, could do really well.”
Williams got off to a slow start Saturday night but rallied the troops starting late in the third quarter. He finished 16 of 31 passing for 227 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 40 yards and two scores.
“There’s a lot of season left. Levi is going to be our guy,” Bohl said. “We’re going to need to ride him, and he’s got to get better, but he did do some good things. But there’s certainly some things we have to clean up.”
No crowd? No problem
While UW’s late rally came up a bit short, everyone in attendance was treated to one of the more entertaining games they’ve likely seen in some time. Of course, the only people who were at the game were the two teams, media and 250 family members/cheerleaders/band members who were spread throughout Mackay Stadium.
It was an odd sight to be sure, but it was one that might have aided UW down the stretch. Without 27,000 screaming fans, the Cowboys were able to find their composure down 22 points when it otherwise might not have possible to do so.
“I think that us just really being able to bring our own energy, knowing that there’s not a lot of fans for them to bring energy towards us,” Gentry said. “So, just like us keeping each other up on the sideline … and really bringing energy from within, I think that helped us to really come back. I think not having the fans was a big key in that.”