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The troubles started for Utah before everybody was even seated. Stopping for a hot dog? Sorry. It's 7-0. Shaking hands with a friend? Fourteen-zip. The last refrains of the national anthem were still wafting over the air; the brown and yellow helium balloons hadn't yet floated out of sight; Ragtime Cowboy Joe hadn't been played.

But it wasn't too early for the Utes to get a jump on losing.Wyoming scored two touchdowns in the first 1:08 of the game, held off a couple of rallies and put some distance on in the final quarter, beating up Utah 45-24 Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

And the skies were not cloudy all day.

Wyoming, 2-5 overall, is holding to hopes of a big finish. The Utes, 2-5, are still trying to get a grip on a bad slide. But some old, familiar problems made an appearance and Utah failed again to keep ahead of its own problems.

It wasn't as though Wyoming caught the Utes by surprise. Utah's annual game with the Cowboys is becoming as predictable as daytime television. Last year it was 61-18, Wyoming. The previous season, 31-7. In 1986, 38-14.

The Utes are known as an easy mark in Laramie, where they haven't won since 1972.

"If you can't tackle and you can't do the basic things, you can't win," said Utah defensive coordinator Tom Gadd. "Around the country you score 24 points, you win."

The Utes gave up 485 yards and Wyoming sprang several long-distance plays to put the game out of reach. Utah's blocking was spotty and the defense kept up its penchant for playing well for several minutes, then allowing big yardage on one play.

All of which made it a predictably glum scene afterward. While Utah Coach Jim Fassel was pointing out that several Utah starters were injured, Gadd was having none of it. "You've got to line up and play. They've got to play. They're all here on scholarships," he said.

A minute and eight seconds into the game the Utes were already coming down with the shakes. Dabby Dawson turned the game's second play into a 68-yard touchdown. Fifty-two seconds later Scott Mitchell threw a pass directly into the hands of strong safety George Dozier, whose interception produced a 23-yard touchdown. Utah looked like a bad hangover.

"Just a miscommunication. I read the coverage wrong. The receiver did the right thing and I threw in the wrong spot," said Mitchell. "My mistake."

There would be many more to come from the Utes. After registering a 44-yard Wayne Lammle field goal and a one-yard rollout scoring pass to Clifton Smith, the Utes started to get clumsy again. Early in the second period Mitchell fumbled a snap and Wyoming recovered on the Utah 32. That opened the way for a two-yard score by Dewaine Jones that put Wyoming ahead 21-10.

Utah closed out the first-half scoring on Steve Abrams' one-yard run. The Utes tried a last-second, 59-yard field goal, but Lammle's kick was short.

The Cowboys began widening the spread in the third period when quarterback Tom Corontzos completed a 37-yard bomb pass to set up another touchdown. Later in the period Sean Fleming kicked a 42-yard field goal for a 31-17 lead.

Utah's final fling came with 2:20 to go in the third quarter as Mitchell completed a 33-yard TD pass to Clifton Smith. But on the ensuing series a routine screen pass to Jones turned into a 78-yard highlight play through the Utah defense.

Dabby Dawson added the final score on a 33-yard run in the fourth period.

Though the Utes went strictly to the air in the last period, hoping to catch up, it was a futile effort. Wyoming end Mitch Donahue made back-to-back sacks on Mitchell in a stand that set up Dawson's final scoring run.

"We'd either protect Scott real well or we didn't," said Fassel.

Afterward, Mitchell pronounced the blocking effort to be acceptable, although the Cowboys registered three sacks and five tackles for loss. "I think they did a really good job with their up-front protection," he said. "The real key today was what Coach Fassel said best: that we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, interceptions and big plays."

Wyoming made two interceptions on Mitchell and the Utes were penalized 11 times for 93 yards.

"They made the big plays and we didn't," said Fassel.

While Utah heads into even more perilous territory - Stanford is up next week - the Cowboys prepare for a game at Colorado State.

The victory was Wyoming's first in four games. "I'm doing a hell of a lot better than I was the last four weeks," said Roach.

Meanwhile, Utah continued to run up a big yards (502) and lose anyway. Mitchell wound up with 374 passing yards and added two more touchdown passes to boost his yearly total to 25.

"We fought hard and had a good game plan," Mitchell offered. "But we made too many mistakes. That's been our problem all year."