(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Quarterback Riley Nelson scored a career-high four touchdowns while throwing for 215 yards and running for 62 more in 56-3 BYU rout over FCS foe Idaho State.
"I believe we played consistently for four quarters," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We had a great chance for young players to play and they handled their assignments well. They executed at a high level. It's a unique challenge to play an FCS team this time of the season. It showed maturity from our team and is a real step forward."
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Nelson finished 11 of 17 passing for 215 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another to lead BYU (6-2) to its fifth straight win. Idaho State (2-6) was unable to stop the Cougar offensive attack throughout the game as BYU recorded season highs in total yards (572), rushing yards (290) and points (56).
BYU used a balanced game plan to rack up 290 rushing yards and 282 passing yards in the game. Sophomore Cody Hoffman led the BYU receiving corps with five catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Michael Alisa led the Cougars in rushing with 66 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
The BYU defense recorded three interceptions, including one by Daniel Sorensen that was returned for a touchdown in third quarter, and held the Bengals to 20 yards rushing. Outside linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jordan Pendleton recorded a combined 10 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, four sacks and three quarterback hurries.
Van Noy helped BYU get on the board quickly by blocking the first ISU punt of the game. The punt block was the first blocked kick of the season for the Cougars and first since 2009. Following the block, the BYU offense scored on its first play of the game when Nelson threw a 15-yard strike to Ross Apo for a touchdown. Apo finished the game with five catches for 71 yards and one touchdown.
ISU responded with a 63-yard drive that led to a field goal but gave up a 42-yard run to Alisa on the fourth play of the following BYU drive. BYU led 14-3 at the end of the first quarter despite holding the ball for just 1:59.
Running back J.J. Di Luigi pushed the BYU lead to 21-3 with a touchdown scamper with 8:23 remaining in the half. The Cougars scored again after a Travis Uale interception when Nelson ran in from 13-yards out for his first rushing touchdown of the season.
BYU finished the half with a Nelson-orchestrated 99-yard touchdown drive in 1:54. Nelson finished the drive with his second touchdown pass of the game, a seven-yard fade to Hoffman to put BYU 35-3 heading into the half.
Nelson led a 91-yard touchdown drive coming out of the locker room that put the Cougars up 42-3. Hoffman caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to finish the drive.
"(Cody Hoffman) is so consistent," Mendenhall said. "He has such size and range and uses his body so well. If Riley puts it anywhere close to him he has a knack for getting the football. Cody has become the 'go-to-guy because he's making big plays in critical situations."
BYU played the remainder of the game with a consistent rotation of players. Sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps saw his first action since playing against Utah State and led the Cougars on one touchdown drive.
The Cougars will travel to Dallas next week to face off against TCU at Cowboys Stadium. The game will be played on Friday and will be televised nationally on ESPN. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT.
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