HONOLULU, HI. – A touchdown pass by Hawai’i with just under 90 seconds remaining in the game lifted the Rainbow Warriors (6-1 overall, 3-0 in MW) past the Cowboys (2-4 overall, 0-2 MW) 17-13 on Saturday evening in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Wyoming drove down the field after the UH score going to the 14-yard line, but time ran out for the Cowboy offense.
“Both teams really played hard and came down to which team made a play or two more,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. “The guys played hard and scrapped. At times I thought we moved the ball fairly well. We didn’t play well enough to win and they are a hard team to beat on the Island.”
Wyoming held Hawai’i to 304 yards of total offense, as it was 191 yards fewer than their season average. The Rainbow Warriors also averaged nearly 42 points per game entering Saturday. Wyoming recorded 244 yards of total offense with 147 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter.
“Anytime you score on defense it is great,” Bohl said. “We put good pressure on the quarterback tonight. Offensively, Nico played like a champion and got those extra yards. We got a lot of season left and we need a few more players to step up for us.”
Senior running back Nico Evans rushed for a career-high 192 yards on 24 carries. It was his third 100-yard rushing game this season. He has rushed for 612 yards this season, which would have been the best for any Poke running back last season.
The Wyoming defense was paced by linebacker Logan Wilson, as he recorded 11 tackles with a career-high three tackles for loss including a sack. Redshirt freshman cornerback Keyon Blankenbaker recorded a career-high seven tackles. Senior defensive end Carl Granderson recorded a pick-six and added a sack in the contest.
The Pokes struck first on their opening drive with a 40-yard field goal from junior kicker Cooper Rothe. His seventh field goal of the season was set up by a 43-yard drive paced by 38 rushing yards from Evans.
Neither team could muster anymore points in the opening quarter, as junior linebacker Logan Wilson would stuff a Hawai’i rusher on fourth down inside the Cowboy five-yard line.
A 41-yard punt return by Justice Augafa set up a 39-yard yard field goal from Ryan Meskell to make it a 3-3 game with 8:25 left in the second quarter. Hawai’i kept a drive going converting on a third down that saw the Warriors extend the drive by a few inches.
The Cowboys took the lead in the third quarter thanks to Granderson, as the defensive end intercepted a pass and returned it 61 yards. The tally gave Wyoming a 10-3 advantage with 8:14 left in the third frame. It was the third interception of Granderson’s career, and the second touchdown, as he returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Central Michigan in 2017.
Hawai’i tied the contest later in the third quarter on a five-yard touchdown pass from Chevan Cordeiro to Cedric Byrd with under a minute remaining in the quarter. The drive went 33-yards on five plays, as a Cowboy penalty set up great field position from the Rainbow Warriors.
Evans set up another Rothe field goal with a 63 yard rush into Rainbow Warrior territory, as this time Rothe connected on a 23-yard attempt. The field goal gave Wyoming a 13-10 advantage with 5:31 left in the contest.
Hawai’i took a 17-13 lead with 1:26 left in the game, as Cordeiro found JoJo Ward in the end zone on a 38-yard pass. Cordeiro was nearly sacked by Garrett Crall, but escaped and was able to get off the pass to Ward in the end zone.
Cordeiro threw for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Dayton Furuta rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries.
The Cowboys return to action next Saturday at Fresno State. The game is set for an 8:30 p.m. MT kick on ESPNU.