By Lazaro Cruz
San Diego, Calif. - Brigham Young University’s defense stepped up one last time during the waning minutes of the twelfth annual San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to seal a 24-21 victory Wednesday night over the Wyoming Cowboys.
The Cowboys had been shut out entirely in the first half and were down by double digits for all of the second and third quarters, as their potent offense could not get anything going. Wyoming rallied however, with 21 points in the second half to close the deficit to three points in the fourth quarter.
With less than two minutes left and the Cowboys driving into BYU territory, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen lofted a pass into double coverage for tight end Jacob Hollister. BYU cornerback Kai Nacua cut in front of the pass to pick it off and end any hope Wyoming had of at least tying the game, while also adding to his team-leading interception total.
On a wet night, BYU’s defense did a good job of stopping the Cowboys offense from finding any real rhythm during the first three quarters of the game. Unfortunately for Wyoming, its defense could not do the same to the Cougars offense.
Cougars running back Jamaal Williams gashed the Cowboys’ defense for 210 yards on 26 carries, including a 36-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Although the weather conditions set up the game to be a slugfest on the ground, both teams had some success through the air as the game worn on. Despite two interceptions, Allen threw for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns. BYU’s Tanner Mangum, playing in place of injured Taysom Hill, finished with 96 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.
Wyoming came into the game averaging a tad over 37 points per game, but was only able to put up 21 on the Cougars D. BYU held electric running back Brian Hill in check for most of the night, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider that the Cougars came in allowing only 108.4 rushing yards per game (8th in the FBS). Although he did score his 22nd rushing touchdown of the season, Hill ended the night below his season average with 97 yards rushing.
BYU finished the season 9-4, while Wyoming fell to 8-6.