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Cowboys host Hawaii on Saturday afternoon

Nov 20, 2013 - From staff reports

Renewal of an old rivalry, celebration of Senior Day for 12 Cowboy seniors, and a battle to keep their bowl-eligibility hopes alive will all be part of this Saturday's final home game of the season for the Wyoming Cowboys.

Wyoming, 4-6 overall and 2-4 in Mountain West Conference play, hosts Hawaii, 0-10 and 0-7 in the conference, in a game scheduled to kick off at noon on Saturday.

The two schools played each other for 20 consecutive seasons from 1978 to 1997. All but the first meeting in '78 were played as conference opponents in the Western Athletic Conference. This year's meeting will be the first as Mountain West Conference foes.

Along with renewal of this two-decade old rivalry will be the renewal of the competition for the Paniolo Trophy, the traveling trophy between the two schools, that has been a part of the series since 1979. Paniolo is the Hawaiian word for Cowboy.

Wyoming leads the Paniolo Trophy series with 12 wins to Hawaii's seven victories. The overall series is led by Wyoming 12-8, when including Hawaii's win in the inaugural 1978 game.

Saturday's game will mark the final home game for 12 Cowboy seniors. The seniors and their families will be honored on the field prior to kick off Saturday. The 12 seniors are: Justin Bernthaler, DT, Stuttgart, Germany; Spencer Bruce, TE, Gillette; Jarrod Darden, WR, Keller, Texas; Tedder Easton, RB, Columbia, Mo.; Devyn Harris, LB, Fountain, Colo.; Robert Herron, WR, Los Angeles, Calif.; Marqueston Huff, FS, Texarkana, Texas; Patrick Mertens, NT, Sterling, Colo.; Brandon Miller, RB, Parker, Colo.; Ruben Narcisse, LB, Miami, Fla.; J.J. Quinlan, LB/DE, Everett, Wash.; and Tyler Strong, OG, Longmont, Colo. Narcisse joined the Wyoming program as a freshman in 2010 but died in a car accident on Sept. 6, 2010, after only one game as a Cowboy. His teammates and coaches have chosen to keep his name on the Wyoming roster these past four seasons until his senior class completed their final season. This would be his senior year.

The Cowboys have lost their last four games, but Saturday they will be fighting to keep their hopes alive of becoming bowl eligible. Football Bowl Subdivision schools must finish the season with at least a .500 record to be bowl eligible. Wyoming would have to win its last two games this season, against Hawaii this Saturday and at Utah State on Nov. 30, to keep its hopes alive of postseason play.

Junior quarterback Brett Smith could become Wyoming's career leader in total offense this week. Smith will enter this Saturday's game with 9,569 yards of total offense for his career. He needs only seven yards to break the school record held by Casey Bramlet. Bramlet set the school record for total offense of 9,575 yards from 2000-03.

Wyoming's defense is led by two Cowboys who are ranked in the Top 20 in the nation in tackles this season. Junior linebacker Jordan Stanton is ranked No. 3, averaging 11.5 tackles per game. Senior free safety Marqueston Huff ranks No. 19 in the country, averaging 9.8 tackles per game. Stanton trails only Keith Smith of San Jose State (13.7 tackles per game) and Tyler Matakevich of Temple (12.2 tackles per game). Stanton has surpassed the 100-tackle plateau for the season. He has 115 tackles.

Huff ranks No. 4 in the MW and No. 19 in the country in tackles, averaging 9.8 tackles per game. Huff leads all Mountain West defensive backs in tackles, and enters Saturday's game with 98 tackles on the year.

He ranks No. 2 in the league in solo tackles and ranks No. 10 nationally, averaging 6.3 solo tackles per game.

The third category Huff is ranked nationally in is fumble recoveries. He has two fumble recoveries this season to tie for No. 4 in the league and No. 49 in the NCAA. Two of the players he is tied with are teammates Devyn Harris, a senior linebacker, and Lucas Wacha, a redshirt freshman linebacker.

Other Cowboys who are approaching career record lists at Wyoming are wide receivers Robert Herron and Dominic Rufran.

Rufran, a junior, has 147 receptions for his career. He needs only four more catches to enter the Wyoming career top-10 list.

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