LARAMIE, Wyo. — The chilly mountain air, Wyoming's 7,200-foot elevation and the Cowboys' no-huddle offense nearly sent Texas A&M home with an early-season loss.
With the temperature sinking to near 40 degrees, Mark Farris kept a hot hand, passing for a career-high 341 yards and a touchdown to lead Texas A&M to a 28-20 victory over Wyoming on Thursday night.
"It's probably the game of the year for them, so we're glad to come up here and take their best shot and get it done," he said.
Texas A&M safety Jay Brooks, who tipped a pass that led to an early interception by Jonte Buhl, said Wyoming's no-huddle gave the Aggie defense fits.
"With the altitude, it was affecting everybody," he said.
A&M kicker Cody Scates missed field goals of 24, 43 and 52 yards and an extra point, costing the Aggies 10 points.
"Those were critical kicks we didn't make," Aggies coach R.C. Slocum said. "We've got a lot of work to do before we win again."
In the end, Farris made the difference, completing 30-of-42 passes, including 12-of-14 on third down. His previous high was 311 yards against Baylor last year.
"He's got a lot of poise. He's got a lot of confidence," said receiver Greg Porter, who had four catches for 45 yards. Teammate Bethel Johnson led all receivers with six catches for 50 yards.
For Wyoming (1-1), it was a 40-point improvement from last year's 51-3 loss in College Station, Texas. But it still hurt.
"We know we're a better team this year, and everybody knows that," Cowboys running back Nate Scott, who had 72 yards, said. "We want that 'W' bad, but we're not going to hang our heads."
Wyoming coach Vic Koenning said his team has come a long way.
"The most positive thing . . . is that they now have emotion and heart," he said. "That's something you can't coach."
The key was the failure of the defense to execute the way it has been practicing, he said.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," Koenning said.
Joe Weber had three short scoring runs as the Aggies racked up 507 yards in offense, including 166 on the ground. Redshirt freshman Keith Joseph led all rushers with 105 yards on 21 carries.
Texas A&M (2-0) held a 507-273 advantage in total offense.
The Aggies had a chance to go up by 21 late in the first half, but a 60-yard drive ended with Wyoming's Lamar James picking off a pass by Farris in the end zone.
The game remained in doubt until the Aggies' Jarrod Penright sacked Cowboy quarterback Casey Bramlet and forced a fumble for a 13-yard loss at the Wyoming 42 with about two minutes left. The Cowboys recovered the ball, but a long pass on fourth-and-23 fell incomplete.
"I'm disappointed that we haven't played up to our potential yet," Texas A&M linebacker Brian Gamble said. "Wyoming came in here fired up and played extremely hard. We had several opportunities to put them away, but we didn't do it."
After trailing 21-14 at the half, Wyoming closed to 21-20 on Jarvis Wallum's 25-yard field goal with 2:18 left in the third quarter. His 52-yarder, a career-best, cut A&M's lead to 21-17 nine minutes earlier.
Interceptions by Sammy Davis and Buhl led to 21 straight first-half points by Texas A&M after Wyoming jumped to a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard run by Scott. All three first-half Aggie touchdowns were 1-yard runs by Weber.
Bramlet, who completed 11-of-26 for 171 yards, hit Malcom Floyd for a 30-yard touchdown pass to draw Wyoming to 21-14 with 3:47 left in the first half.
Davis' interception, his third of the season, and 18-yard return set up Weber's third TD, which came at 7:37 of the second quarter and a conversion pass from Farris to Johnson put the Aggies up 21-7.
Earlier in the quarter, Weber's second score snapped a 7-all tie and capped a nine-play, 62-yard drive.