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Wyoming beats Hawaii 59-56 in overtime
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Despite gaining big chunks of yards on runs and passes and tossing multiple touchdowns in three separate quarters, Brett Smith doesn’t concern himself with the statistics he and his offense might be putting up during a game.
“It doesn’t really register until people are talking about it after the game,” Smith said.
After Wyoming defeated Hawaii 59-56 in overtime on Stuart Williams’ 36-yard game-winning field goal and Smith’s single-game school record seven passing touchdowns, there was plenty of talk about statistics and records.
Wyoming (5-6, 3-4 Mountain West) snapped a four-game losing streak and kept its chances for becoming bowl eligible alive for another week.
“It’s a recharged locker room,” Cowboys coach Dave Christensen said. “It’s been tough around here.”
It remains tough for Hawaii (0-11, 0-8), which is enduring its second longest losing streak in school history at 11 games without a win. It was its second straight overtime loss and fifth loss by 7 points or less.
In a game that featured 10 scoring drives lasting less than 2 minutes each, the offenses of both teams had their way much of the day, combining for 1,417 total yards.
Wyoming gained 793 total yards, a Mountain West record and the second most by a team in the NCAA this season, and the Rainbow Warriors 624.
“It was just really, really bizarre in some instances,” Smith understated.
Smith himself accounted for a conference record 640 yards total offense for the Cowboys, completing 29 of 48 passes for 498 yards and rushing 19 times for 142. His total yardage is the most by an individual NCAA player so far this season.
Smith had two TD passes of more than 70 yards and one 47-yarder. His seven TD passes tied the Mountain West record accomplished by Max Hall of BYU in 2008 against UCLA and is the most by an NCAA quarterback this year.
Robert Herron caught 11 of Smith’s passes for 141 yards and tied a school record with four touchdowns. Dominic Rufran snagged seven passes for 121 yards.
Smith also had a 51-yard run for a score. The eight TDs he took part in are the most by a single player in Mountain West history.
Sean Schroeder led Hawaii, passing for a career-high six TDs and 499 yards. His 33-yard TD pass and subsequent 2-point conversion toss to Chris Gant, who tied a school record with four TD receptions, with 1:18 left in regulation, forced the game into overtime at 56-56.
In overtime, Hawaii got the ball first at the Cowboys 25 yard line and drove down to the Wyoming 4 yard line on four straight runs by Joey Iosefa. However, the Cowboys defense stuffed Iosefa on third and 1 and linebacker Devyn Harris dropped him for a 1-yard loss on fourth down, meaning Wyoming’s offense only needed a field goal to win the game.
“We weren’t going to play for the tie,” Hawaii coach Norm Chow said.
Harris credited UW defensive coaches for the fourth down stop.
“They made the perfect call,” he said. “I came off the edge unblocked. I saw them hand it off, and I just hit him.”
On Wyoming’s ensuing possession from the Hawaii 25 yard line, the Cowboys lost 2 yards on their first two plays, but Smith completed a 9-yard pass to Jalen Claiborne to set up Williams’ winning field goal.
“Right as it went off my foot I knew it was good, and then the mob tackled me,” Williams said, noting it was the first game-winning kick in his football career.
Canada lifts Montana past Montana State 28-14
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A season ago, Montana’s football program was in disarray. The Grizzlies missed the playoffs for the first time in recent memory, their quarterback was banished due to off-the-field issues and they lost to the despised Bobcats at home.
That’s all behind them now. With a 10-2 record (6-2 in the Big Sky), the Grizzlies will return to the FCS playoffs, Jordan Johnson is back calling signals and on Saturday they defeated Montana State 28-14.
Johnson threw for 250 yards and a touchdown and Jordan Canada ran for two other scores as UM overcame an 82-yard punt return by MSU’s Shawn Johnson, that put the Bobcats (7-5, 5-3) ahead 7-0 in the first quarter.
“To come here and beat our rivals, that’s unbelievable,” UM’s Johnson said. During his time away from the game, he admitted he considered leaving the program. “One of the big reasons I stayed at Montana was so I could play in this game.”
The Grizzlies closed out the first half with Canada’s 7-yard dash to knot it at 7. They then opened the second half with a 3-yard score by Travon Van to silence the record crowd of 21,527 at Bobcat Stadium.
“To go into halftime 7-7 knowing you’re going to get the ball back is huge,” Johnson explained. “At the beginning of the game we just shot ourselves in the foot; it was just us beating us. Once we settled in and played our football, we did all right.”
Johnson completed 23 of 35 passes for 250 yards. It was his 20-yard scoring strike to Clay Pierson in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. That three-play drive was setup by Brock Coyle’s second forced fumble of the day, this time jarring the ball loose from the normally sure-handed Cody Kirk.
“He didn’t see me; I think he thought he had daylight,” said Coyle, who grew up in Bozeman but always rooted for the Grizzlies. “I came up behind him and came down pretty hard on the ball and it came out. It was huge.”
The Bobcats answered Pierson’s touchdown catch with Shawn Johnson’s second score, this time from 1-yard out, but Canada closed out the scoring with an 8-yard run. Canada led all runners with 71 yards. Jamaal Jones was Johnson’s favorite target, hauling in eight passes for 120 yards. The Grizzlies finished with 365 total yards, and were not hurt by a blocked punt nor by a blocked field goal attempt.
“We played some good football a year ago in that 5-6 season,” UM coach Mick Delaney said. “We had a lot of close games and we learned a lot from them. Any time you don’t learn from adversity, you’re not going to get better. From every game we’ve played we’ve learned something to help us get better the next week.”
The loss was the Bobcats’ third straight and once again they struggled on offense, being held to just 277 total yards.
“We have to go back and look at what we did early in the season that was beneficial to us and what changed in those last three games,” MSU quarterback DeNarius McGhee said.
McGhee topped MSU with 57 yards on the ground while throwing for 160 yards on 17 completions in 33 attempts.
“We knew the offense went through (McGhee) and we shut him down pretty good today,” said Coyle who led all players with 11 tackles.
Held to 15 first downs, MSU was forced to punt eight times.
“Our defense was lights out,” Delaney said. “There were so many things that made the difference, but the No. 1 thing was our defense.”