A tipped Dru Brown pass was picked off by Cassh Maluia in the first overtime period as Wyoming secured a 28-21 Mountain West Conference victory today over Hawaii.
The Cowboys scored first on a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to a wide-open James Price to take the seven-point lead that would hold up during this exciting league season-opening matchup. The victory leveled Wyoming’s overall mark at 2-2. Hawaii is also 2-2 and returns home to play Colorado State on Sept. 30 at Aloha Stadium.
Brown completed 29 of 40 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown. He also threw two costly interceptions. Allen was 9-for-19 for 92 yards. Hawaii dominated in this game, but penalties and turnovers cost them a chance at a rare road win in Laramie, where Hawaii hasn’t won since 1991.
FOURTH QUARTER WYOMING 21, HAWAII 21
After forcing a punt at the start of the period, Wyoming took over at its own 14 with 13:39 left in the game without a first down in the second half. Highly touted quarterback Josh Allen had only 49 yards passing at the start of this drive with six completions in 14 attempts. Still, the Cowboys were right in the game, thanks to an opportunistic defense and critical mistakes by UH, including an interception of a Dru Brown pass on a first-and-goal play.
Allen completed his first pass of the drive for 11 yards and a first. You had the feeling he was about to do something big when running back Trey Woods broke off a 58-yard run right down the middle of the UH defense. He had a 34-yard scoring jaunt earlier in the game on a similar call.
Facing first-and-goal from the 4, a rejuvenated Wyoming team took it to a tiring UH defense in the cold, mountain air with runs between the tackles. Two plays later, Austin Conway scored from 3 yards out. Cooper Rothe added the PAT to make it 21-14 with 11:53 remaining. It was a five-play, 86-yard drive.
A nice 45-yard return on the ensuing kickoff was erased on a holding penalty that gave the Rainbow Warriors the ball at their own 11. A litany of mistakes kept UH from leading at this point in the game. Still, the Warriors moved the football on a good mixture of run and pass by Brown and running back Diocemy Saint Juste that gave Hawaii a first down at midfield with about nine minutes left.
From there, Brown found John Ursua on a quick, strike touchdown pass on a seam route for 50 yards. Alex Trifonovitch made the PAT to tie the game at 21 with 8:18 left. UH went 89 yards on seven plays, setting up an exciting finish.
Wyoming took over with about eight minutes left at its own 33. Handing the ball off to Woods seemed the right call at this point, as he broke off two 11-yard runs to start the drive.
Facing third-and-2 at the UH 39, Woods was stuffed for 1 yard. They quickly went for it on fourth down and made it on an Allen sneak with about five minutes left. A first-down pass was missed by Allen off play-action to stop the clock. A short run by Woods set up third-and-long for the Cowboys.
They came up short on a scramble by Allen, setting up a 47-yard field-goal try by Cooper Rothe that sailed wide right, giving UH the ball at the Wyoming 30 with 3:46 left.
Hawaii cobbled together a couple of first downs, but a big drop by Dylan Collie killed the drive, forcing a punt that was returned 37 yards by Conway to the Wyoming 42 with 1:02 left. Allen was sacked on the first play from scrimmage as Wyoming called a timeout with 57 seconds remaining, facing second-and-15. Allen tried to find C.J. Johnson on a nice route, but dropped the ball for the third time in the game.
THIRD QUARTER HAWAII 14, WYOMING 14
Wyoming got the ball at its own 28 to start the second half but was ineffective, going three-and-out. That’s just what the UH offense was hoping for as Brown and Co. took over at the UH 31.
But unlike the Cowboys, the Rainbow Warriors converted a third down and moved the sticks. A first-down run for 6 and 15 more yards for a face-mask penalty had UH with a first down at the Wyoming 35. A hard run by Diocemy Saint Juste gave UH a first down at the Cowboys 21. A false-start penalty threatened to kill the drive, but Brown found Dylan Collie on a scramble play for 23 yards to set up first-and-goal.
But Wyoming came up big with a pick by Andrew Wingard, who had a 24-yard return that was enhanced by a late-hit penalty on UH offensive lineman Chris Posa, one of many flags thrown at the O-line during the game.
Wyoming set up shop at the Cowboys 39, but once again was ineffective, going three-and-out. Highly touted quarterback Josh Allen continued to struggle, thanks in part to dropped passes. He was fortunate that UH defensive back Manu Hudson-Rasmussen dropped a sure pick-6 on the third-and-short call. At that point in the game, Allen was a mediocre 6-for-14 for 49 yards with three big drops.
Hawaii took over at its own 12 and quickly moved the ball out to the Wyoming 28 with a couple of completions to Ursua.
Short routes were the call of the day as UH faced a third-and-2 at the Wyoming 47. Brown threw a nifty go route to Ammon Barker down the sideline for 18 yards. Ryan Tuiasoa broke off a 17-yard run to the Wyoming 8, setting up a first-and-goal. But a promising drive ended again, this time on an incompletion, leading to a 28-yard field-goal attempt by Alex Trifonovitch.
He made it, but Wyoming roughed the kicker, giving UH a first-and-goal from the 5. From there, Saint Juste took it in for the score. Trifonovitch added the PAT to make it 14-7 Hawaii with 54 seconds left in the quarter.
Wyoming responded with a 97-yard kickoff return by Tyler Hall, who was the player flagged for the roughing penalty. Rothe added the PAT to make it 14-14 with 39 seconds left in the half.
SECOND QUARTER WYOMING 7, HAWAII 7
Wyoming faced a third-and-2 to start the second and converted on a sneak play by talented quarterback Josh Allen. Allen later hit a 16-yarder on third-and-11 to put the Cowboys at the UH 34. From there, Trey Woods took a straight handoff and went right down the heart of the defense for the first score of the game. Rothe added the PAT to give the Cowboys a 7-0 advantage with 13:22 left in the quarter. The seven-play drive went 61 yards after UH failed to convert a fourth-down pass play late in the opening period.
Hawaii started its fourth series at its own 25 with a straight handoff to Saint Juste, who picked up 13 yards. That snap eventually gave way to a huge fourth-and-1 run of 11 yards by Tuiasoa that gave UH a first down in Wyoming territory.
A couple of short completions by Brown gave the Warriors a first down at the Cowboys 17. It was Hawaii’s first red-zone opportunity, and Ursua took a short pass from Brown and turned it into a first-and-goal at the 7. Backup quarterback Cole McDonald came in and ran a keeper to the 4, then Tuiasoa had a short carry to the 2.
From there, UH ran a shovel pass, but picked up only 1, setting up a huge fourth-down play with about six minutes left. Tuiasoa scored from the 1 for Hawaii’s first touchdown of the night. Trifonovitch added the PAT to make it 7-7 with 5:52 left. The drive, which saw Hawaii convert two fourth downs, went 75 yards on 13 plays.
FIRST QUARTER WYOMING 0, HAWAII 0
Hawaii got the ball to start the game and avoided the dreaded three-and-out by converting a third-down pass play at its own 28. Unfortunately for the road Warriors, they didn’t execute on the next third-down play, leading to an early punt.
Wyoming took over at its own 40 after a poor kick of 35 yards, putting UH’s defense in an early hole. Facing third-and-2, the Cowboys converted their first third down, moving into Hawaii territory. Allen did more handing off than throwing downfield as the Cowboys looked to establish the running game.
But like Hawaii, Wyoming failed to convert the next third-down opportunity, leading to the Cowboys’ first punt of the game. The Warriors’ second opportunity began at their own 20, a meager 3-yard improvement in field position they quickly gave away with a false-start penalty. That mistake led to a three-and-out as UH came up a yard short of the first.
A questionable late hit penalty on the punt return by UH gave Wyoming the ball in Hawaii territory to start its second series. Allen quickly moved to the airways, but a bad drop on first down led to a three-and-out with 4:58 remaining in the quarter.
The punt was downed on the UH 3 as the Warriors began their third drive of the game deep in their own territory. Their first three drives were at their own 17 — on a poor kickoff return — 20 and 3. Early mistakes with penalties, particularly on special teams and the offensive line, put Hawaii at the wrong end of the field.
A huge third-down conversion by McDonald on a running play got the offense out to the 18. That was followed by a 17-yard completion from starter Dru Brown to John Ursua and then another 17-yard completion to Keelan Ewaliko as UH moved into Wyoming territory for the first time.
But that’s where things got dicey as Brown failed to convert a third-and-10 play at the Cowboys 39. The fourth-and-5 snap should have been converted but Ursua dropped a perfectly placed pass on a slant route as UH turned the ball over on downs late in the period.
If Hawaii wants to challenge San Diego State for a division title in the Mountain West Conference, the Rainbow Warriors need to win a football game like this one against Wyoming being played tonight in Laramie. The temperature at kickoff was in the low 40s with a good chance of precipitation throughout the evening.
Hawaii will already be dealing with the 7,200-foot altitude that comes with playing in the Cowboys’ backyard. Throw in a cold and possible rainy night, and it makes it just that more difficult to come away with a win on the road. The Warriors are basically a touchdown underdog against Wyoming and its likely NFL-bound quarterback Allen.
Hawaii defensive linemen Viane Moala, Samiuela Akoteu and Tevarua Eldridge are suspended for tonight’s game against Wyoming, a UH spokesman confirmed.
Like Hawaii, Wyoming needs to start the MWC schedule with a win. The Cowboys are a ho-hum 1-2 with a pair of lopsided losses to Iowa and Oregon. The Cowboys should find the Warriors defense to be more accommodating. Hawaii is 2-1 and coming off a bye after a bad defeat at the Rose Bowl two weeks ago to UCLA. If they are to win, they must keep Allen in check and do some scoring of their own early and often.
This is a good test for Hawaii. Win and get off to a good start in conference. Lose and it could prove to be an uphill battle for a stated goal of a conference crown.