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By Liz Alper

Photo by Cris Rangel

December 21, 2016 (San Diego) - The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl was played on a cold, rainy night at Qualcomm between BYU and the team that was a thorn in SDSU’s side until they defeated them in this year's Mountain West championship game, Wyoming.

At the end of the first quarter, after Wyoming senior punter Ethan Wood bobbled a punt, BYU took over on the turnover and sophomore quarterback Tanner Mangum punched it in and the Cougars took the lead 7-0.

Sophomore kicker Rhett Almond added three more in the second to put the Cougs up 10-0 at the half.

In the second half, the Cowboys finally tallied with a drive filled with fourth down conversions. Junior running back Brian Hill ran it in at the goal line for the touchdown and Wyoming trailed by three, 10-7.  But after a big catch good for 39 yards by redshirt senior El Cajon native and Grossmont College transfer Nick Kurtz, the Cougars were at the goal line.  Mangum avoided pressure and threw a ball to the end zone that was bobbled by Kurtz and eventually caught by junior tight end Tanner Balderree for the touchdown.  BYU was up by 10 again, 17-7.

Early in the fourth, senior running back Jamaal Williams broke free and added seven more for the Cougars with a touchdown run and BYU put this one out of reach of the Cowboys 24-7.  The Cowboys didn't go away; redshirt sophomore transfer quarterback Josh Allen passed to senior Tanner Gentry and the Cowboys were in double digits as the Cougars led 24-14.  Wyoming got one last hurrah when Gentry made a tremendous grab and reached the end zone and just like that, the Cougars’ 24-7 lead was whittled down to a field goal, 24-21.  But just like Philip Rivers, Allen throws game-ending interceptions too, as he threw one to senior safety Kai Nacua that allowed BYU to hold onto their lead and win the Poinsettia Bowl 24-21.

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