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Thursday morning quarterback: Stars and stats from BYU's win over Wyoming

Kai Nacua saved the day as the BYU Cougars escaped with a 24-21 win over the Wyoming Cowboys in the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego Wednesday night.

The Cowboys had the ball deep in BYU territory looking for the game-winning score in the final two minutes when Nacua intercepted a Josh Allen pass to seal the win for the Cougars.


Scoring recap

The Cougars got on the board first when Tanner Mangum found the end zone on a 3-yard run. A muffed Wyoming punt set up the short field, giving BYU the ball at the Wyoming 3-yard line.

BYU extended the lead to 10-0 on a 27-yard field goal from Rhett Almond. The short kick capped of an 11-play, 66-yard drive that saw the Cougars gain all but 11 yards on the ground.

The Cowboys closed the gap to 10-7 on a 4-yard run from Brian Hill. Wyoming converted two fourth downs on the drive, including a 3-yard run from Allen and a 9-yard catch from Josh Harshman.

The Cougars answered back on the next possession with a crazy 5-yard touchdown reception by Tanner Balderree on a pass that was deflected multiple times. Nick Kurtz came up big on the drive with a leaping 39-yard reception deep in Wyoming territory.

BYU pushed the lead to 24-7 on a 36-yard run from Jamaal Williams thanks in part to a terrific block from Jonah Trinnaman. Dayan Lake came up huge to give the Cougars the ball back with an interception on a Wyoming flea-flicker.

Wyoming cut the deficit to 24-21 when Allen found Gentry behind the defense for a 23-yard touchdown. Allen had another big play on the drive to keep the chains moving when he found Jake Maulhardt for a 22-yard gain on third-and-long.


Three stars

3. Kai Nacua

VIDEO: Kai Nacua (@KaiNacua_23) does what he does, makes the game-winning interception for @BYUfootball in his final game as a Cougar pic.twitter.com/FWzbjQTZmY

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) December 22, 2016

Nacua came up with the key play on the night with a huge interception to help the Cougars secure the win. He added three tackles, including two solo.

2. Harvey Langi

Langi had a big night for the Cougars with a career-high 16 tackles, including a tackle for loss to earn the game's defensive MVP. He also had a huge pass break-up on a fourth down.

1. Jamaal Williams

VIDEO: Jamaal Williams (@jswaggdaddy) scores his final TD for @BYUfootball, this 36-yarder to put the Cougars up 24-7 on Wyoming pic.twitter.com/yuQt73EChG

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) December 22, 2016

Williams had a monster night in his last game in a Cougar uniform. He finished with 26 carries for a BYU bowl record 210 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown run to earn the game's offensive MVP.


Analyzing the stats

Wyoming held a huge advantage in the time of possession (35:12 to 24:48), while outgaining the Cougars 362-312 and winning the first down battle 22-13.

Mangum completed just 8 of 15 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. It was his fewest completions in a game as a BYU starter.

The 96 passing yards were the fewest by the Cougars since they threw for 55 yards in a 2015 loss to Michigan.

BYU finished with 216 yards and two touchdowns in the running game. It was the fourth time in five games that the Cougars have rushed for more than 200 yards and the eighth time on the season.

The Cougars intercepted two passes giving the defense 31 turnovers on the season (21 interceptions and 10 fumbles). That is the most turnovers caused by a BYU defense since 2001.