Ari Davis | Posted: 24 Dec 2019 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Late touchdown dooms Cougars in 38-34 bowl loss to Hawai'i

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JJ Nwigwe

HONOLULU – A late touchdown with just over two minutes remaining by Hawai’i gave the Rainbow Warriors a 38-34 win over BYU in the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl on Tuesday evening  at Aloha Stadium.

With just over two minutes left in the game BYU led 34-31, Hawai’i got the ball back on BYU’s 26-yard line. Four plays later, a 24-yard pass into the end zone gave the Rainbow Warriors seven points to take the lead 38-34 with just over one minute remaining. 

The Cougars got the ball back with 1:12 on the clock and managed to move down the field quickly. However, Zach Wilson threw an interception at the UH 30-yard line with 25 seconds left, allowing the Rainbow Warriors to kneel it out to end the game. 

Quarterback Zach Wilson was 24 for 40 with 274 passing yards while adding 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Matt Bushman led all BYU receivers with 91 yards while Tyler Allgeier totaled 77 rushing yards and Lopini Katoa added a rushing touchdown. JJ Nwigwe made a statement on the Cougars’ defense with two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss while adding four total tackles. Aleva Hifo put up 97 punt return yards to, giving him 153 all-purpose yards on the game.

BYU out-gained Hawai’i on the ground, racking up 231 yards to the Rainbow Warriors two yards while also putting up 505 total yards to the Hawai’i’s 495 yards. After giving up 31 points in the first half, the defense shut out UH until the last few minutes that made the difference. 

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First Quarter

Hawai’i got on the board first as the Rainbow Warriors’ quarterback Cole McDonald threw a seven-yard pass into the back of the end zone putting Hawai’i up 7-0 with 7:32 left in the first quarter.

Hawai’i grabbed an interception and returned it 21-yards to the BYU 40-yard line.  After a no gain rushing play, McDonald threw a deep ball 40-yards into the end zone to put the Rainbow Warriors up 14-0 with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.

But, BYU quickly answered back on its next drive. On third down, Wilson found Bushman 31-yards down field to give BYU a first down. A two-yard rush from Masen Wake put BYU on the one-yard line, before Katoa finished the drive giving BYU its first touchdown making the score 14-7 with just under a minute left in the quarter.

  • Jake Oldroyd tied his career best with a 56-yard punt after BYU’s first drive of the game

Second Quarter

To finish out the first quarter, McDonald threw another bomb 58-yards deep into BYU territory. Hawai’i finished out the drive in the second quarter adding seven more points bringing the score to 21-7.

However, it wasn’t long before the Cougars also got into the end zone. Katoa started off the drive, by plowing through Hawai’i defenders 12-yards for a first down. Bushman followed it up with a one-handed grab that he bobbled before grasping the ball for 22-yards to give BYU another first down. Dax Milne added to the drive snagging a 26-yard catch to get BYU into the red zone on the Hawai’i 13-yard line. Wilson completed the drive finding his way into the end zone behind the push of BYU’s offensive line, decreasing the lead margin to 21-14 with under 10 minutes to go into halftime.

On third down, Zac Dawe got into the Rainbow Warriors’ backfield initially sacking McDonald and striping the ball away him. But, after the play was reviewed the forced fumble and fumble recovery were overturned giving the ball back to the Rainbow Warriors and Hawai’i was forced to kick a 46-yard field goal to bring the score to 24-14.

BYU closed the lead to three points, as the Cougars called a double-reverse play and Micah Simon ran 11 yards for a touchdown to make the score 24-21. The Rainbow Warriors tacked on another touchdown and BYU connected on a 37-yard field goal to close out the first half and Hawai’i went into the lock room ahead 31-24.

Third Quarter

To start out the second half, Aleva Hifo gave the momentum to BYU as he returned a punt 52 yards to the Hawai’i six-yard line. Two plays later, Wilson ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game at 31-31 with just under 12 minutes left in the quarter.

With under four minutes left in the third quarter, Wilson attempted to get into end zone trying to jump over two Hawai’i players on the goal line. Wilson was helicoptered in mid-air over the goal line and fumbled the ball into the end zone and it was recovered by the Rainbow Warriors.

  • Aleva Hifo returned a punt 52 yards for his career high and BYU’s season high. He then returned another punt 31-yards on the next drive to give BYU good field position.
  • The BYU defense held Hawai’i to minus-4 yard in the third quarter while also holding Hawai’i quarterback to 1 of 7 for six yards.

Fourth Quarter

The Cougars took their first lead of the game to start out the fourth quarter as Oldroyd connected on another field goal giving BYU the 34-31 lead. The Rainbow Warriors attempted field goal on their next drive to tie the game, but the ball went wide right and the Cougars kept the lead.

Hawai’i made a late surge driving down the field with just over two minutes left in the game. A 24-yard pass into the end zone gave the Rainbow Warriors the final touchdown of the game and a 38-34 advantage over BYU.

The Cougars got the ball back with 1:12 but an interception from Wilson ended the game as Hawai’i took the win 38-34.  

  • JJ Nwigwe recorded his first two career sacks. The first one was in the third quarter for 10 yards and the second one was in the fourth quarter for eight yards. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss on the game.

BYU finished the 2019 season at 7-6, with notable wins over Tennessee, No. 24 USC and No. 14 Boise State. 

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