The Wyoming home opener was a reason for optimism. Football was back in Laramie. A sense of some normalcy was back. And most importantly, the Cowboys defeated Hawaii.
Wyoming used their successful, albeit sometimes frustrating offense to ground and pound the Rainbow Warriors into a 31-7 victory. Xazavian Valladay rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the Wyoming rushing attack. The Pokes offense line and rushers beat on the Warrior defensive front from the opening snap and kept at it for four quarters.
Hawaii, playing a tad bit out of their warm element, wore down over the course of the game. However, the Warrior defense was a lot more stout that past defenses. Todd Graham’s crew essentially held the Cowboy offense in check, bending but never breaking until late in the game.
Wyoming started off the scoring against the Rainbow Warriors on a five play drive with Xazavian Valladay punching it in from 18 yards out. Wyoming followed that up with a John Hoyland field goal to extend their lead to 10-0. Hoyland, the star of last week’s game against Nevada, was one for two on the night in field goal tries and 4-4 on extra point tries.
Hawaii would get their only points of the game after Hoyland’s missed kick, which was a result of Wyoming driving to the Rainbow Warrior six yard line. A corner blitz caught Levi Williams by surprised, causing a fumble that was recovered by Wyoming setting up a long field goal attempt. After the game Williams described the Hawaii defense as “controlled chaos” and said at times Hawaii would leave a guy open but bring seven or eight men, leaving no time to get a pass off. The Warriors capitalized with a 47 yard pass from Chevan Cordiero to Zion Bowens to get down to the Wyoming four yard line. Dae Dae Hunter would take it in two players later to bring the Rainbow Warriors within 10-7.
That was the closest Hawaii would get the rest of the night.
From there the Cowboy defense took over and bludgeoned the Rainbow Warrior offensive line the remainder of the game, sacking Cordiero five times, tipping multiple passes, and forcing two turnovers. One turnover a fumble by Cordiero, one turnover a Cordiero interception that bounced off of one of his receivers and into Charles Hicks’ hands. Hicks’ interception was returned 47 yards and setup a Xazavian Valladay touchdown from six yards out.
Wyoming sealed the game with a Cole Godbout sack of Chevan Cordiero, and eight plays later a Trey Smith touchdown from two yards out.
The Wyoming defense was a little ego bruised last week after Carson Strong threw for 420 yards on them. This week the defense with something to prove held the Rainbow Warriors to 233 total yards. For much of the first half the Hawaii offense was in the negative in passing yards, failing to get anything going against the Cowboy defense. Almost a third of Hawaii’s total offense came on their only scoring drive.
The offense rushed the ball effectively against Hawaii’s defense, averaging 4.8 yards per carry amongst the three ball carriers. Wyoming scored 30 points for the third consecutive game, the first time they’ve done that since the end of the 2018 season, and going into the first game of the 2019 season. The Cowboy passing attack remains largely ineffective for the second straight week. Levi Williams was 9/18 for 112 yards. Arden Eberhardt led Cowboy receivers with three catches and 26 yards. Williams mentioned postgame that the Pokes need to be better in that area.
Next week is Border War week. Wyoming will travel to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State in the annual meeting for the Bronze Boot. Colorado State was defeated by Fresno State earlier this week, 38-17 in Fresno. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network on Thursday night, slated for a 7pm kickoff. The game can also be heard on the Cowboy Radio Network.