Valladay runs all over the Warriors’ defense

LAMARIE, Wyo. — University of Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay used Friday afternoon’s game against the University of Hawai‘i Rainbows as his case to take the next step to the NFL.

Many experts have predicted that Valladay could be headed in the direction of playing on Sunday, and his 170 yards on 32 attempts and two touchdowns only validated those predictions, as he singlehandedly carried the Cowboys to a 31-7 victory over the Rainbow Warriors in Laramie, Wyoming.

The Cowboys’ offensive line, which averaged over 300 pounds per man, grounded the smaller Rainbow Warriors’ defensive line by amassing 281 total rushing yards to fatigue the Rainbow Warriors into submission.

Valladay began the scoring with an 18-yard rushing touchdown to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead with 12:53 left in the first quarter.

After the Cowboys lost in their season-opener game 37-34 to Nevada, they wanted to come out and make a statement, according to Valladay.

“We just had to find ourselves,” Valladay said. “We had to find our motivation, and just fast forward to get back to finding out who we are. We just needed to stick to our game plan.”

University of Hawai‘i coach Todd Graham said the Cowboys didn’t present any surprises during the game that the Rainbow Warriors’ team and personnel didn’t see when studying the game film.

“The game was just a power football team (between both sides),” Graham said. “There weren’t many three, four, five, six or seven yards. This game was a war. I thought our guys responded well. We had the opportunities, even when they had momentum. We just made too many negative plays, and that killed us all night long. We are going to have to get more disciplined at what we are doing.”

The Cowboys added to the lead when John Holland tacked on another field goal to give them a 10-0 lead with 9:55 left in the first half.

The Hawai‘i Rainbows appeared to gain momentum back when they established a late-first-half drive that culminated in a 3-yard rush by Dae Dae Hunter with 1:04 left.

Hunter’s scamper would be the only score the Rainbow Warriors would achieve throughout the contest.

Throughout most of the third quarter, the game appeared to be up for grabs, as Hawai‘i tried to capitalize on the late-second-quarter momentum shift, but couldn’t sustain their late-first-half momentum.

Cowboys running back Trey Smith scored on a 1-yard rush with 8:19 left in the third quarter, which gave Wyoming the necessary separation they needed to continue to pound on the smaller Rainbow Warriors’ defensive front in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys continued to rush the ball in the fourth quarter with Valladay and Smith, who both scored touchdowns.

Valladay scored on a 6-yard rush with 8:19 to go in the fourth quarter, and Smith scored on a 2-yard rush with 1:48 left to play.

The Rainbow Warriors loss could be read in the statistical analysis. They were 3-of-14 on third-down conversions.

Hawai‘i generated a total of 233 yards, and their passing game continued to struggle.

Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro was 11-of-26 for 110 yards passing and has yet to throw a touchdown pass this season.

The Rainbows will get ready to take on New Mexico in their home opening debut Saturday at Aloha Stadium.

The Rainbow Warriors haven’t won in Wyoming since 1991.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot and made too many negative penalties,” Graham said.

“Obviously, Wyoming was the better team tonight, and there isn’t much else that you can say,” said Graham.

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Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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