BYU holds off Wyoming to Win a Rainy Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego
SAN DIEGO, CA -- When you think of Southern California, one usually doesn't think of rain with it. It was a Wednesday afternoon in San Diego as two teams from the Rockies - Brigham Young University and Wyoming - was preparing for game time. Rain was in the forecast, but most fans didn't expect it to come back at all that night. Anyone without a raincoat or umbrella quickly found themselves soaked in an outdoor shower. The field became slippery very fast as fans filled the stands in a cold and wet despair while assistants stored footballs in bags and cheerleaders took cover under rally signs.
Although the rain did not let up at all, the Poinsettia Bowl still had to go on. The 78th meeting between these two teams did not disappoint. The Cowboys were looking to beat BYU for the first time since 2003. Although they came close, it ultimately wasn't enough.
Thanks to the sloppy wet field conditions, the Cougar's offensive coordinator Ty Detmer chose to rely heavily on the team's running game. Running back Jamaal Williams ended the night with 210 yards, his second highest of the season, and a touchdown. It was a great way to end his career and senior season.
BYU's defense was able to adjust to the weather before Wyoming was able to, giving them the utmost advantage, but the Cowboys showed some mettle in the second half. Down 24-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, Wyoming rallied to score 14 unanswered points on the Cougars, placing them within a field goal.
The Cowboys' defense forced BYU into a three-and-out on its next drive to force a Cougar punt with 1:52 left in the game. As the rain started to slow for a bit, Wyoming's quarterback Josh Allen assumed that it seemed safe to pass the ball. The fireworks came when BYU's senior defensive back Kai Nacua intercepted Allen for the second time delivering BYU its first bowl win in four years. Allen was picked off for the second time as Nacua delivered BYU its first bowl win in four years. This costly interception sealed the Cougars' three-point victory in a 24-21 win over Wyoming in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Players from BYU got the chance to douse first year coach Kalani Sitake in blue Gatorade after the game. "I'll take it any day," said Coach Sitake of the Gatorade treatment. "As long as we win, I'm happy." It was Sitake's first bowl win as a head coach, and it came almost a year to the day after he assumed the head coach position at BYU.
Weather was definitely a factor in the game's first half, despite the fact that it rains only 42 days out of the year in San Diego. The first half consisted of a number of mishaps and miscues, including a BYU fumble by Jamaal Williams, a costly punt fumble by the Cowboys which gave BYU its first lead of the night, and a Wyoming failed field goal attempt.
Despite these poor conditions, BYU still managed to go to the locker room with a 10-0 lead at the half.
Wyoming's offense came alive in the opening possession of the second half. They opened with a touchdown drive that took up eight and a half minutes of game clock. The scoring drive marked their first trip to the red zone all night.
A BYU 39-yard bomb on the following drive put the Cougars deep in Wyoming territory, and a pinball touchdown pass from Tanner Mangum put BYU up 17-7. BYU's Williams, playing in his final game of his Cougar career, was unstoppable all night. A touchdown drive by him gave BYU the 24-7 lead over Wyoming before the Cowboys' comeback attempt.