The BYU Cougars beat the Wyoming Cowboys 24-21 in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl.
SAN DIEGO – In a rain soaked contest between former WAC and MWC foes, the BYU Cougars came out on top 24-21 fighting off a scrappy Wyoming squad.
In the win, BYU’s all-time leading rusher – Jamaal Williams – carried the Cougar offense when they most needed him, rushing 26 times for 210 yards and one touchdown. Williams earned Offensive MVP honors from the Poinsettia Bowl.
Despite an outstanding performance from Williams on offense, the win came down to a defensive play from standout Safety Kai Nacua who came up with his third career game-saving interception with 1:22 remaining in the game.
Wyoming’s momentum picked up in the fourth quarter when they responded to a long touchdown run from BYU’s Williams – putting the Cougars ahead 24-7 – with a 14-play 6:26 second drive capped off with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen to Tanner Gentry to bring the score to 24-14.
The Cowboys stopped the Cougar offense on their next possession and continued their momentum with another touchdown drive marching 81-yards downfield in 7-plays with another touchdown pass from Allen to Gentry making it a one score game at 24-21.
BYU received the ensuing kick off and Wyoming forced a three-and-out and one last opportunity to go for the victory. On the second play of the drive – just short of field goal range – Nacua picked off Josh Allen’s pass thrown across the middle of the field sealing the victory for the Cougars with his sixth interception of the season.
The Cougar defense played stout through the first three quarters and were awarded several breaks by the weather which caused slippery conditions and forced mistakes for both teams. BYU and Wyoming had two turnovers each in the contest.
The sloppy conditions led to BYU’s first score of the game when Wyoming attempted to punt deep in their own territory, the punter fumbled the snap with the BYU offense taking over at the Wyoming 3-yard line. On the second play, Quarterback Tanner Mangum avoided pressure and dove into end zone head first.
Mangum finished the game with 96 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception in his first start of the 2016 season.
In addition to Williams being named the Offensive MVP, senior captain Harvey Langi was named Defensive MVP after a 16 tackle performance which also included one tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup.
The Cougars finished the 2016 season – the first for head coach Kalani Sitake – with a 9-4 record in what has been recognized as one of the toughest schedules in school history.