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Levi Williams, Wyoming Dominate Georgia State 38-17 in 2019 Arizona Bowl

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2020

Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams, left, is tackled by Air Force defensive lineman Mosese Fifita after a short gain in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, at Air Force Academy, Colo. Air Force won 20-6. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Wyoming Cowboys won their second bowl game in three years.

Wyoming defeated the Georgia State Panthers 38-17 at the 2019 Arizona Bowl on Tuesday at Arizona Stadium. Quarterback Levi Williams led the way in just his third career game with four total touchdowns, helping the Cowboys finish 8-5 and bounce back from three losses in the final four regular-season games.

As for Georgia State, this marks four losses in the last five games after a solid start to its 7-6 campaign.

          

Notable Player Stats

  • Wyoming QB Levi Williams: 11-of-26 passing for 234 yards, three touchdowns and one interception; 12 carries for 53 yards and one touchdown
  • Wyoming RB Xazavian Valladay: 26 carries for 204 yards and one touchdown; three catches for 91 yards and one touchdown
  • Georgia State QB Dan Ellington: 13-of-26 passing for 156 yards, one touchdown and one interception; 14 carries for 70 yards and one touchdown
  • Georgia State WR Cornelius McCoy: five catches for 78 yards and one touchdown

         

Wyoming's Defense Sets the Tone Before Offense Finishes

Wyoming's defense appeared to be in for a long day when it allowed a touchdown on the opening possession, which was uncharacteristic for a unit that finished 11th in the country in points allowed per game.

It quickly found its form, though, setting up the offense with short fields thanks to a turnover on downs and an Alijah Halliburton interception. It also held Georgia State to a field goal when backed up inside the 10-yard line to help cut short the Panthers' early comeback efforts.

CBS Sports Network @CBSSportsNet

Picked off! Wyoming is knocking on the door yet again. https://t.co/k7Kl89SfAO

That was all the offense needed, as Williams took advantage of the short fields with touchdown passes to Austin Conway and Xazavian Valladay. Valladay also helped put the game away with a touchdown run in the third quarter, although the best individual effort came from Williams right before the end of the first half.

He unleashed an incredible throw as he was falling backward to Ayden Eberhardt for a 51-yard touchdown, one of seven passes—three of which went for touchdowns—he completed in the first half.

CBS Sports Network @CBSSportsNet

Sliding catch for 6. Wyoming takes their first lead here in the first quarter. @wyo_football | @novaAZBOWL https://t.co/aCfy2fxQPl

CBS Sports Network @CBSSportsNet

Levi Williams had never thrown a TD pass in college coming into today. He has now thrown two passing TDs in a span of about 5 minutes in real time. https://t.co/fJkvi51iDK

CBS Sports Network @CBSSportsNet

Late nomination for play of the year? https://t.co/FvneV6DBpz

Wyoming's defense, which also tallied a 4th-and-goal stop in the fourth quarter, hasn't needed much help to contend in games given how dominant it has been for stretches this season. That both sides of the ball played well in Tuesday's game suggests good things to come in 2020.

Williams, a freshman, won't win any awards for his completion percentage from this victory, but he made timely throws to take advantage of scoring opportunities when they presented themselves and even scored on the ground. That, along with strong running from Valladay, was enough to complement the defense.

            

Dan Ellington's Toughness Stands Out Even in Defeat

There are few better stories of toughness in the entire bowl season than Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington's.

The senior tore his ACL against Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 9, but he played the final three games of the regular season and started Tuesday's bowl contest.

"I knew I was going to finish the season out the game I got hurt," he told reporters. "I just had to see how I was moving."

CBS Sports Network @CBSSportsNet

Georgia State QB Dan Ellington is out here playing on a torn ACL and still finding the end zone. Nothing but heart and determination. 🙌 @GeorgiaStateFB | @novaAZBOWL https://t.co/A4DvEkrHIn

Davis Potter @DavisEPotter

Dan Ellington is limping badly after that run. Barely putting any weight on the knee with the torn ACL. He's already run the ball 12 times. Again, amazing he's even playing.

Frank Sulkowski WJCL @TheBigGuyWJCL

Dan Ellington, one good knee and all, still playing and leading that Ga State offense. Talk about leaving it all out on the field. I respect that.

CBS Sports Network @CBSSportsNet

Well, that was quick! Georgia State immediately responds with a TD of their own. @GeorgiaStateFB https://t.co/FgCvYG9ufn

The dual-threat quarterback who threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for five more during the regular season was moving just fine at the start of Tuesday's game. He ran four times for 45 yards on Georgia state's first possession alone and capped off the drive with a touchdown scamper.

While that was largely the high point for the signal-caller, who struggled with accuracy, he found running lanes to keep the Panthers within striking distance early and connected with Cornelius McCoy for a long touchdown in the third quarter.

Most athletes, even at the professional level, wouldn't have played with a torn ACL. Ellington did and turned some heads along the way.