BYU falls in hard-fought season opener to Virginia

Sophomore running back Jamaal Williams lead BYU with 33 rushes and 144 yards in a hard-fought 19-16 loss to Virginia in Charlottesville in the season opener. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- BYU took a late lead in the fourth quarter before falling to the University of Virginia 19-16 in a defensive battle in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.

BYU vs. UVa Box Score

BYU vs. UVa Game Notes

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Virginia took the final lead of the game, 19-16, on a 13-yard run with 2:36 left in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers took only one play to score after an interception following a tipped ball.

The game was a defensive struggle that saw a combined 24 punts.

Cougar linebacker Uani ‘Unga and defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna led the way with 10 tackles each. Seven other Cougars finished with five or more tackles, and Kyle Van Noy finished the game with 2.5 tackles for loss. The defense held UVa to 223 yards of total offense and to just 6 for 20 on third downs.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill finished the game 13 of 40 for 175 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Running back Jamaal Williams led the team in rushing with 144 yards on 33 carries, just 11 yards off his career high in single-game rushing yards.

In the fourth quarter, the Cougars took a late lead after the offense went on an 11-play, 92-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard keeper by Hill for a 13-12 advantage. On the drive, Hill went 3 for 5 for 32 yards, and Williams added four rushes for 31 yards.

BYU increased its lead on the following kickoff, when linebacker Austen Jorgensen forced a fumble that was recovered by Blake Morgan. Kicker Justin Sorensen nailed a 36-yard field goal to increase the lead to 16-12 with just over five minutes left in the game.

The first quarter proved to be a defensive stalemate with seven combined punts between the two teams. The stout BYU defense picked up where it left off last season, holding the Cavaliers to just 1 for 6 on third down. In 2012, the defense ranked No. 1 in the country in third-down defense.

In between the first and second quarters, there was a lightning delay that stalled the game for two hours and nine minutes as the teams were asked to leave the field and fans had to evacuate from their seats in Scott Stadium.

After BYU was forced to punt in its first possession following the weather delay, Van Noy hit the UVa quarterback to induce a bad pass which led to an interception by safety Craig Bills.

Captain JD Falslev sparked the Cougars on their first scoring drive of the game in the second quarter. The senior returned a punt for 17 yards to set BYU up on the Virginia 32-yard line. Falslev caught a pass from Hill and snuck up the sideline for 24 yards before grabbing a four-yard touchdown pass to put BYU up 7-0.

Virginia hit a 53-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to bring the score to 7-3 in favor of BYU.

With 12:28 left in the third quarter, Virginia increased its lead following a blocked a punt, scoring three plays later on an 11-yard touchdown pass for a 10-7 advantage. The Cavaliers increased their lead again to 12-7 after a botched snap by the Cougars was recovered in the end zone by Hill for a safety with 2:38 left in the third quarter.

For the game, BYU totaled 362 yards to UVa's 223 and recorded 21 first downs to the Cavaliers' 14 but Virginia still earned the win on its rain-soaked field. 

The Cougars return to action against Texas in the BYU home opener on Saturday at 5 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

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