Wyoming Hosts Hawaii on Senior Day Saturday

Saturday will mark the final home game for several University of Wyoming senior football players. 

Jimmy Orr

November 26, 202111 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

 It is a series that began back in 1978 and has been played 26 times since that over the next 44 seasons — the Wyoming Cowboys and Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will kick off the 26th meeting in their long-standing series Saturday in Laramie.  Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Both teams are coming off big wins last week.  Wyoming defeated Mountain Division leader Utah State by a score of 44-17 in Logan, Utah.  Hawaii won at home by a score of 50-45 over Colorado State.  The Cowboys will bring a 6-5 overall record and a 2-5 Mountain West record into Saturday’s game.  Hawai’i is 5-7 overall and 2-5 in the Mountain West.

Wyoming Earns Bowl Eligibility for the Fifth Time in Six Years

With its win over Utah State last Saturday, Wyoming earned bowl eligibility with its sixth win of the season.  It marks the fifth time in the last six seasons that Wyoming is bowl eligible.  The Cowboys played in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl, won the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and captured the 2019 Arizona Bowl.  The Pokes were also 6-6 in 2018, earning them bowl eligibility, and are currently 6-5 this season.

Saturday’s Game Will be Senior Day, Wyoming Seniors Have Been Part of Great Success at Wyoming

Saturday will mark the final home game for several University of Wyoming senior football players.  During their time as Cowboys, the program has enjoyed a great deal of success.  Due to the NCAA granting players an extra year of eligibility following last year’s COVID shortened season, several current Cowboy seniors have been part of the Wyoming Football program since 2016.  Here are some of the accomplishments this year’s senior class has been a part of:

      •Three eight-win seasons in 2016, ’17 and ’19

      •Earned bowl eligibility in 2016, ’17, ’18, ’19 and ’21

      •2016 Hosted Mountain West Championship Game

      •2016 Poinsettia Bowl

      •2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Champions

      •2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl Champions

      •A 5-1 record against rival Colorado State

      •Defeated SEC member Missouri in Laramie in 2019

Muma Named One of Six National Finalists for the 2021 Butkus Award 

Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma was named one of six finalists for the prestigious Butkus Award on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.  The Butkus Award honors the nation’s best linebackers in the nation.  This is the 37th year of the Butkus Award.

The six finalists for this year’s college award include: Muma; Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati; Nakobe Dean, Georgia; Damone Clark, LSU; Devin Lloyd, Utah; and Leo Chenal, Wisconsin

Winners of the college and high school awards are expected to be selected on or before Dec. 7. The pro winner will be announced in early 2022.

This season, Muma is averaging 10.9 total tackles per game to rank No. 2 in the Mountain West and No. 4 in the nation.  He is also averaging 6.8 solo tackles per game to rank No. 1 in the MW and No. 2 in the nation.  Muma is tied for No. 2 in the nation in interception returns for touchdowns.

Valladay Could Become Only the Fourth Cowboy to Post Two 1,000-Yard Rushing Seasons 

Only 11 Cowboys in the 125-year history of Wyoming Football have rushed for 1,000 yards in a single season.  One of those is current Cowboy Xazavian Valladay, who ran for 1,265 yards in 2019.  He will enter this Saturday’s game vs. Hawai’i with 942 rushing yards this season.  He needs only 58 more yards this season to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career.

Only Brian Hill, Ryan Christopherson and Dabby Dawson have posted two 1,000-yard seasons in their careers.  Valladay could become the fourth.

Wyoming’s 1000-Yard Rushing Seasons

1.   Brian Hill                          2016        1,860

2.   Brian Hill                          2015        1,631

3.   Ryan Christopherson      1994        1,455

4.   Nico Evans                      2018        1,325

5.   Gerald Abraham              1987        1,305

6.   Devin Moore                    2008        1,301

7.   Xazavian Valladay         2019        1,265

8.   Myron Hardeman            1977        1,165

9.   Dabby Dawson                1988        1,119

10. Marques Brigham            1998        1,114

11.  Jim Crawford                  1956        1,104

12.  Ryan Christopherson      1993        1,042

13.  Dwight Driver                  1992        1,027

14.  Dabby Dawson               1989        1,005

      Xazavian Valladay          2021           942

Swen Rushes for a Career High 169 Yards at Utah State,

Records Longest Run From Scrimmage in 125 Years of Wyoming Football History 

Wyoming junior running back Titus Swen rushed for a personal best 169 yards at Utah State on Nov. 20, 2021.  Included in that total was a 98-yard TD run that is the longest run from scrimmage in Wyoming school history.  The previous long was 95 yards by former Cowboy running back Nate Scott against Central Michigan in 2000.  Swen’s 169 yards marked the third 100-yard rushing game of his career and second of this season.

Valladay and Swen Form Dynamic Running Back Duo

Wyoming’s offense has the luxury this season of having two premier running backs in Xazavian Valladay and Titus Swen.

Valladay has rushed for 942 yards this season.  Swen has ran for 718.  Combined, the two have accounted for 1,660 of Wyoming’s 2,222 rushing yards or 74.7 percent.  Valladay has four 100-yard games this season, while Swen has two of his own in 2021.

Defense Shines in 44-17 Win at Utah State, 

Limiting High-Powered Aggie Offense to 17 Points

One of the keys to Wyoming’s 44-17 win over Utah State on Nov. 20 was the way the Cowboy defense limited the powerful Utah State passing attack, that was averaging 315 yards per game, to only 181 yards.  Wyoming’s defense also held the Aggie offense, which was averaging 33 points per game, to only 17 points.

The Utah State offense was able to complete only 45.2 percent of its passes (19 of 42) for 181 yards and averaged only 4.3 yards per pass attempt and only 9.5 yards per pass completion.

Utah State rushed for only 181 yards and accounted for 362 yards of total offense.  In the second half, the Cowboy defense also shutout the Aggie offense.

Iron Men — Offensive Line Leads the Way for Wyoming’s Outstanding Rushing Attack 

Wyoming’s offensive line has a group of iron men when it comes to the number of games they’ve started and played in their careers.

Chief among those are senior center Keegan Cryder, who will be starting his 43rd consecutive game Saturday.  That is every game that Wyoming has played over the past four seasons.  Cryder has never missed a start during his college career.  Close behind him is senior right guard Logan Harris, who will be starting the 42nd game of his career on Saturday.

Leading the way for Wyoming’s successful rushing attack in 2020 was a dominant group of offensive linemen.  Entering the 2021 season, Wyoming had eight O-Linemen returning with starting experience.

Returning Offensive Linemen              Career Games Played    Career Starts

Logan Harris, OG                                    52                                     41

Keegan Cryder, C/OG                             42                                     42

Rudy Stofer, OT                                       37                                     25

Eric Abojei, OG                                        33                                     26

Alonzo Velazquez, OT                             32                                     30

Frank Crum, OT                                       29                                     22

Zach Watts, OG                                       20                                       8

Latrell Bible, OT                                       18                                       6

Career Totals (As of Nov. 22, 2021)       263                                   200

Levi Williams Enjoyed a Career Day in Win at Utah State

Cowboy quarterback Levi Williams enjoyed a career best day in UW’s 44-17 win at Utah State on Nov. 20.

Williams threw for a career high 242 yards against the Aggies.  He also completed a career best 80.0 percent of his passes (12 of 15).  Williams threw TD passes of 40 and 17 yards with only one interception.  He added 22 rushing yards for 264 yards of total offense.

Neyor Records Back-to-Back 100-Yard Receiving Games at Boise State and Utah State

Over the past two weeks, Wyoming sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Neyor has performed at an extremely high level vs. two of the top teams in the Mountain West.  On Nov. 12 at Boise State, Neyor caught six passes for 126 yards and one touchdown vs. the Broncos.  Neyor followed up that performance on Nov. 20 at Utah State with four receptions for 125 yards and his 10th receiving TD of the season.

Neyor had his first of three 100-yard  receiving games as a redshirt freshman in 2020 when he caught three passes for 102 yards at Nevada. 

Cameron Stone Earned MW Special Teams Player of the Week for Performance at Utah State

Wyoming Cowboy kick returner Cameron Stone was named the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in a 44-17 road win at Utah State on Nov. 20.  Stone returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter at Utah State, giving Wyoming a 14-7 lead on way to a 44-17 road victory.  It was Stone’s first career kickoff return for a TD.  The 99-yard return was the second longest in Wyoming’s 125-year history.  Only a 100-yard kickoff return by Wyoming’s Sonny Jones vs. Colorado College in 1948 was longer.  Stone’s 99-yard return came immediately after USU had tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.  The sophomore from Rosharon, Texas, added a second kickoff return of 25 yards to account for 124 yards in kickoff returns and average 62.0 yards per return.  It was Stone’s first MW Player of the Week award.

Common Opponents

The Wyoming Cowboys and Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors have played four common opponents in 2021 — Colorado State, Fresno State, San Jose State and Utah State.  Wyoming has a 2-2 record against those opponents, and Hawai’i is also 2-2. 


Opponents        Wyoming vs.                 Hawai’i vs.

Colorado State   W 31-17 (+14), Home     W 50-45 (+5), Home

Fresno State       L 0-17 (-17), Home         W 27-21 (+6), Home

San Jose State   L 21-33 (-12), Away         L 13-17 (-4), Home

Utah State           W 44-17 (+27), Away      L 31-51 (-20), Away

Wyoming and Hawai’i Meet for the 26th Time, Will Battle for the Paniolo Trophy for the 25th Time

The Wyoming Cowboys and Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors will play for the 26th time in the two schools’ histories when they kick off today.  The two teams will be competing for the Paniolo Trophy for the 25th time. 

Wyoming and Hawai’i first played each other in football back on Nov. 18, 1978, with Hawai’i winning that first meeting in Honolulu by a score of 27-22. 

The Paniolo Trophy has been a part of the series since 1979.  In the second year of the series, a group of Hawai’ian residents, with roots in Wyoming, donated a statuette of a Cowboy preparing to toss a lariat.  The traveling trophy is named the Paniolo Trophy as Paniolo is the Hawai’ian word for Cowboy. 

At the time the traveling trophy was introduced to the rivalry both schools were members of the Western Athletic Conference, as Hawai’i joined the WAC in 1979.

Wyoming leads the Paniolo Trophy portion of the series with 15 wins to Hawai’i’s nine victories.  The overall series is led by Wyoming 15-10, when including Hawai’i’s win in the inaugural 1978 game. 

For the next 19 years, from 1979 to 1997, the two teams competed for the Paniolo Trophy.  After Wyoming’s 35-6 win in the 1997 meeting in Honolulu, the series between the two schools ended.  Due to the rotating schedule of the then 16-team WAC, Wyoming and Hawai’i weren’t scheduled to play in 1998.  In 1999, Wyoming joined the Mountain West Conference, which interrupted the series for 15 years.  

When Hawai’i was invited to join the Mountain West Conference, beginning in 2012, the two schools began discussion of a renewal of the Paniolo Trophy competition.  But over that 15-year timespan the Paniolo Trophy was lost, which became a story in itself.  Each school searched for it, but it was not to be found.

Enter a new group of Hawai’i fans to continue the tradition.  The Paniolo Preservation Society, a group dedicated to preserving Hawai’i’s rich Cowboy heritage, proposed a new trophy.  Led by the Society’s President, Mrs. Patricia C. Bergin, a bronze maquette, featuring Hawai’ian native Ikua Purdy roping a wild stag bull, was donated to the two schools in 2013 to mark renewal of the series.  Purdy became the first Hawaiian inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1999.  The bronze is a reproduction of a larger work by noted western sculptor Fred Fellows.  The reproduction measures approximately 20″ long and 12″ high.

The series was renewed in 2013, when Hawai’i joined the Mountain West as a football playing member school.  Wyoming recorded a 59-56 victory in the first overtime in Laramie in 2013.  Hawai’i won in 2014 in Honolulu by a score of 38-28.  In 2017, the Cowboys and Rainbow Warriors played another overtime game, with the Cowboys winning 28-21 in the first overtime.  UH won the 2018 meeting in Hawai’i by a score of 17-13, and Wyoming captured the most recent meeting in the series in 2020 in Laramie by a score of 31-7.

Where to Watch and Listen

Every Cowboy Football game is broadcast live on the 26 radio affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network.  Announcers are Dave Walsh, Play-by-Play (38th year), Kevin McKinney, Color Analyst (24th year) and Reece Monaco, Sideline Reporter (11th year).  The pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

This week’s game will be telecast on Spectrum Hawai’i.  The only way to watch the game is by downloading the Team1Sports app on your phone or tablet and watch from those devices.  Fans can also screen cast to their televisions if they have the right phone and TV.  Saturday’s announcers will be Kanoa Leahey (Play-by-Play) and Rich Miano (Color Analyst).

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Jimmy Orr

Executive Editor

A third-generation Wyomingite, Jimmy Orr is the executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily.