Three stars of the game
TUCSON, Ariz., -- In this new feature, we will pick three players who stood out from the game we all just watched.
Tonight, in Wyoming's 38-17 Arizona Bowl victory over Georgia State, the three selections were easy. Very easy. We even threw in an honorable mention. One that is well deserved.
1st star: Xazavian Valladay
The sophomore running back from Illinois said he was healthy coming into this one. He sure looked the part. Valladay rushed for 204 yards on 26 carries. He also scored a touchdown on the ground. Valladay wasn't done yet. He also led the team in receiving, catching three passes for 91 yards, including a three-yard touchdown pass. He was named the game's Offensive MVP.
"It felt really good just getting back in the swing of things because we had some time off," he said. "Just staying in the training room, just doing everything that my coaches asked me to do, doing the work."
Valladay wrapped up the season with 1,265 yards rushing. He also found the end zone eight times.
2nd star: Levi Williams
Wyoming's true freshman quarterback made his first collegiate start Tuesday afternoon in Tucson. The moment -- obviously -- was not too big for the Canyon, Texas, product, who completed 11-of-26 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Each one of those scoring strikes went to a different receiver. For good measure, Williams even rushed for a score in this one. This was just the third game of Williams' career at Wyoming, and because of the NCAA rule, he will be a redshirt freshman next season. Talk about valuable experience. He could be a good one.
"We have been working hard on the pass game," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "And so that blend of run and pass certainly stresses a defense, and then those guys up here making plays like that, both in the run and the pass game really helped."
3rd star: Alijah Halliburton
It would've been really easy for this guy to transfer from Wyoming. He had a ready made excuse, too. The past three seasons, he waited his turn as Marcus Epps and Andrew Wingard, two current NFL players, held down the safety spots for the Cowboys. Halliburton didn't leave, and Tuesday night, he was named the Defensive MVP of the Arizona Bowl. The senior from Colorado tallied a game-high 11 tackles, one for loss and his second career interception that led to the Cowboys second straight touchdown. Halliburton finishes the 2019 season with 130 tackles. Wyoming will miss this guy a lot.
"Man, they're all over the place," Halliburton said about his emotions. "I don't even know what to think right now. I'm just happy, excited, sad, all over the place. This is my last game. But it was just such a big game to end the decade off. And such a big game like this and getting the W, just happy for that excited especially for the New Year's to come."
Honorable mention: Dan Ellington
This was more than a gutsy effort. You could see that in Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott's teary eyes during his postgame press conference. Ellington, who played Tuesday with a partially torn right ACL, completed 13-of-26 passes for 156 yards. He tossed a touchdown and an interception. Late in the second quarter, Ellington was forced to leave the field. He was in pain and it looked like his storied career in Atlanta was coming to a premature end. Instead, he missed one play. Ellington rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries to lead the Panthers. He basically did it with one leg and one big heart.
"Dan and I have a real good relationship," Elliott said. "I told Dan, I said, you can look at me at any time and let me know that, hey, it's not going to happen. And never once did he give me that look saying, you know, I'm done."