The Game Recap
Hawaii started this game with the surprise news that Cole McDonald would miss the game with an injury. In his place, Chevan Cordeiro, a freshman QB who’d never gotten a snap in a college game before, got the start.
Hawaii received the opening kickoff and was forced to punt. Wyoming drove down the field on their first possession and got a field goal to take an early lead. The Rainbow Warriors would have a long drive that came up empty when Hawaii would be stuffed going for it on 4th and 2 from the Wyoming 4 yard line. Luckily for Hawaii, the Wyoming offense was done for the first half after their first drive. Wyoming would have three, consecutive three-and-outs. Meanwhile, Hawaii would lose a fumble on one drive, kick a field goal to tie the game on the next drive, and then punt on their last drive. The Hawaii field goal was the result of a 41 yard punt return that set the Rainbow Warriors up with great field position at the Wyoming 35.
Wyoming would run out the half with the game tied, 3 to 3.
Wyoming got the ball to start the 2nd half and promptly went three-and-out. Luckily for Wyoming, the defense would prove to be their best offense. Hawaii was putting together a little drive before this pick 6 from the Wyoming defense made it 10 to 3, Wyoming.
After the defensive touchdown, Wyoming would force a Hawaii punt. Unfortunately, the Wyoming offense would three-and-out again, giving the ball right back. Wyoming would commit an unsportmanlike conduct penalty on the punt return to give Hawaii the ball in great field position yet again, this time from the Wyoming 33. Hawaii converted on the opportunity by driving down the field for the game tying score.
On the next possession, Wyoming would turn the ball over on downs from the Hawaii 41 after getting stopped on 4th and 2. The Cowboy defense forced a punt from the Rainbow Warriors, and Wyoming would get a field goal to regain the lead on the next drive, 13 to 10. It was not that much of a Wyoming drive though as Nico Evans would bust a 63 yard run that got Wyoming deep into Hawaii territory to setup the field goal.
With their backs against the wall, Hawaii responded. Hawaii converted a 4th and 1 from their own 41 to keep the drive alive. Later, after a Carl Granderson sack made it 2nd and 13 from the Wyoming 38, this happened.
A heck of a play from a freshman QB in his first college game. Considering the moment of the game, it was an even bigger play. You’ve got to feel good for that kid who is a Honolulu native. A great moment for him and Hawaii. For Wyoming, not so much. It was completely deflating.
With the score now 17 to 13 in favor of Hawaii, Wyoming would have one last chance. Unfortunately, the Wyoming offense would fall short. With 9 seconds left in the game, Wyoming completed a 21 yard pass to the Hawaii 14 before time ran out on the Cowboys.
Hawaii wins 17 to 13, and the Paniolo Trophy is back in Hawaii to stay.
Wyoming had their chances, but they did not capitalize. If you told me before the game that: (1) Nico Evans would rush for 192 yards, (2) Wyoming would win the turnover battle, 2 to 0, (3) one of the turnovers would be a defensive touchdown for the Cowboys, and (4) Wyoming would hold Hawaii to 17 points, I would have said that Wyoming probably wins the game. However, that was not the case.
I put the most blame for this loss on the offense. Simply put, it’s awful. The Wyoming offense managed just two field goals. The Wyoming defense outscored the Wyoming offense. With respect to the Hawaii defense, this is a Wyoming problem. Hawaii came into this game with the 105th ranked total defense. Wyoming ran the ball very well with Nico Evans. Still, the offense faltered and bogged down (mostly due to a very poor passing game) time after time. Also, the three-and-outs are getting ridiculous. It happens way, way too often. It kills any momentum and exposes the defense too much.
So, Wyoming is now 2-4 overall and 0-2 in MWC play. The season is not over, but the path to a bowl game is looking much dimmer. Most likely, Wyoming is on their way to a losing season which would be a big disappointment for a team that was expected to go bowling.
The only way to get back on track is for the offense to finally step up. Considering this was the 5th game in a row that Wyoming only managed to score into the teens, it would seem unlikely that Wyoming does enough to win the majority of their remaining games.