LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) Linebackers don’t get their hands on the ball very often, and Wyoming linebacker Cassh Maluia had just one good hand when he saw the ball fluttering in the air.
Still, Maluia was able to intercept the tipped pass in overtime, giving Wyoming a 28-21 win over Hawaii Saturday night.
After the teams battled to a 21-21 tie at the end of regulation, Wyoming scored on the first play of its overtime possession when Josh Allen rolled out to his right and hit James Price in the end zone for a 25-yard TD pass.
On Hawaii’s ensuing possession, Diocemy Saint Juste gained 10 yards on a carry. Wyoming defense end Garrett Crall then tipped a pass by Hawaii’s Dru Brown into the arms of a diving Maluia.
Playing with his right hand in a large cast, Maluia was in pass coverage out in the flat when he looked back and saw the ball had been tipped and was up for grabs.
”I put my eyes on the prize,” he said.
He said he caught the ball with the left hand and his legs.
Trey Woods led Wyoming (2-2, 1-0 Mountain West) with 135 rushing yards on 15 carries and a 34-yard touchdown. Before the Hawaii game, the most yards gained by a Wyoming running back for a game was 43 yards.
Tyler Hall had a 97-yard kickoff return for the touchdown.
”The kickoff return hurt,” Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich said. ”Kudos to them, but that’s going to hurt you in a close game.”
Allen completed 9 of 19 passes for 92 yards.
Saint Juste led Hawaii (2-2, 0-1) with 120 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. It was his third 100-yard performance this season.
Brown completed 29 of 40 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown. He had two passes intercepted.
Hawaii outgained Wyoming in total offense 450 yards to 269 and held the ball about 18 minutes longer than the Cowboys.
”They put up a lot of yards tonight, but we made one more play than they did,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. ”…The takeaway is the two interceptions, and they came at critical times.”
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors failed in a bid for their first 3-1 start to a season since 2007. The loss to Wyoming leaves Hawaii with just one victory in the Mountain Time zone since it joined the Mountain West Conference in 2012. Hawaii has not won at Wyoming since 1991
Wyoming: The Cowboys have won nine of their last 11 home games, dating back to the last game of the 2015 season. Their two losses came against San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference championship game last year and against Oregon last week.
The two teams played for the Paniolo Trophy. Paniolo is Hawaiian for ”cowboy.” The trophy was originally donated by the Wyoming Paniolo Society, a group of Hawaiian residents with roots in Wyoming. The trophy made its debut in 1979 but the original was lost and was replaced in 2013 by a new trophy.
Hawaii: After playing on the road the last two games, the Rainbow Warriors return home to host Colorado State on Saturday night.
Wyoming: The Cowboys host Texas State in the final game of a four-game home stretch.
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