UW’S MOLDEN BECOMES THIRD DEFENSIVE MVP

By W.G. Ramirez, special to the Las Vegas Bowl

LAS VEGAS — The 28th version of the Las Vegas Bowl was special for the Washington Huskies, as they wanted to send retiring coach Chris Petersen out with a win.

For Elijah Molden, it was a bit more.

“Crazy special,” said Molden, who was the third-ever defensive player to be named MVP of the Las Vegas Bowl after intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble in Washington’s 38-7 victory over Boise State on Saturday night.

Molden’s interception came at a critical time in the third period, as it stymied a Boise State drive that might have shifted momentum during the Broncos’ attempted comeback. It seemed only fitting the junior defensive back forced a fumble on Boise State’s final drive, even with the game out of reach.

Molden said playing for Petersen in his final game provided plenty of motivation.

Petersen was on the coaching staff of the 1995 Oregon team Molden’s father, Alex, played on. And as Molden put it, Petersen is part of the family.

“Our main focus was coming out here and doing our job, but in the back of our mind we wanted to send him out the right way, same with the seniors too,” said Molden, who finished with nine tackles. “He’s a highly respected coach in college football, he deserves this.”

Petersen was just as elated for Molden.

“Elijah comes from an awesome family, his mom, great lady; they have a wonderful family,” Petersen said. “I was so excited when we got Elijah to come to Washington because of our connection with his family, because I knew what type of people they are. And this guy is like everything you want in a college football player, in terms of the type of student he is, how he treats people and certainly how he plays.”

Molden said while there are times he puts too much pressure on himself and overthinks his preparation to the point he stresses himself out, Saturday’s win was gratifying.

“It’s always been my dream, always been my goal, ever since I was 5 years old watching my dad play,” Molden said. “But not like this, especially with a man like that on stage, Coach P. He’s a big reason why I came here. We all love him, so it makes this even that much better.”

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