(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was the playmaker of the night and was named defensive MVP of the Poinsettia Bowl. The junior had a huge game with 8 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, 1 blocked punt and 2 touchdowns. The first touchdown came with BYU trailing 6-3 in the fourth quarter after forcing and recovering a fumble in the end zone. The second came on a pick-six later in the quarter to help seal the victory.
FOURTH QUARTER MADNESS
BYU trailed 6-3 in the fourth quarter but the defense had enough. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy got it started, forcing a fumble and recovering it for the go-ahead touchdown as BYU rattled off 20 unanswered points. The defense wasn’t done and SDSU’s fourth quarter drive chart looked like this: fumble, fumble, punt, interception, interception, turnover on downs. BYU’s 20 points in the fourth quarter match a season high.
SENIORS GOING OUT IN STYLE
BYU’s seniors played their final game and didn’t disappoint. Linebackers Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga combined for 17 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss while defensive back Preston Hadley added a half-sack. The senior defensive line group of Ezekiel Ansah, Russell Tialavea and Romney Fuga combined for eight tackles, one interception and one pass breakup. On offense James Lark threw for 244 yards and David Foote had eight yards rushing and 17 yards receiving while Riley Nelson had a 13-yard scamper.
Another senior playing in his last game, punter Riley Stephenson lived up to his All-American billing, booting eight punts for 268 yards but most importantly six inside the 20, including four inside the 5-yard line with two at the 1-yard line.
HOFFMAN KEEPS IT GOING
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman was named the Poinsettia Bowl offensive MVP and kept his streak alive, now catching at least one pass in 32 straight games and 38 of 39 career games. Hoffman also logged his eighth 100-yard receiving game with 114 yards on 10 catches. Hoffman has recorded at least 100 yards in all three of the bowl games he has played and has been named offensive MVP twice. He holds the BYU bowl record for career bowl receptions, yards and touchdowns with 26 receptions for 373 yards and six touchdowns.
MOVING UP THE CHARTS
Hoffman also moved into fifth all time at BYU with 2,718 career yards. He finishes the year in fourth place with 203 career receptions. He also became just the third player in school history to record 100 receptions in a season and the fourth to have over 200 receptions for his career.
ZIGGY GETS HIS
Senior defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah recorded his first career interception on SDSU’s first drive of the game. He ended his career with five tackles on the night, along with an interception and pass breakup.
With another touchdown tonight, freshman running back Jamaal Williams put up 12 for the season, a new BYU true freshman record. Williams had 31 yards rushing on 15 carries and also had two catches for 27 yards.
With the victory, BYU has now won a school-best four bowl games in a row. The Cougars have won six of their last eight bowl games.
END OF AN ERA
Assistant head coach and tight ends coach Lance Reynolds announced to the team following the game that after 31 years at BYU he would be stepping aside from coaching BYU football now that the season is over. The team honored him with a standing ovation.
RUNNING OUT THE FLAG
Freshman running back Adam Hine led BYU out of the tunnel carrying the team flag today. Sophomore linebacker Alani Fua also ran out the special teams flag. Former cougar Jernaro Gilford (DB, 99-03) carried the alumni flag.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall:
"By way of opening comments, I'm happy with our seniors. We started the season with 29, the most I have had any place I've coached. They showed heart and epitomized what BYU football is all about. They try as hard as they can, every game, win, lose or draw. I'm surrounded by great company here, each has a unique story, what they have done here and what they have accomplished while they have been at BYU."
"I recognize Coach Long, his influence on me has been exceptional, I studied under him for six years, he has an excellent football program and winning the Mountain West Conference Championship and winning the championship at the end, they have a great football team. Defensive turnovers and our punting game ended up making the difference, and James Lark connecting with Cody offensively in situations to help us, that's the way winning the game played out."
"Again, my congratulations to San Diego State on a really, really good football team and a good year. And to our team, another bowl game which was eight in a row now, winning six of the eight. The expectation at BYU is that we do play in postseason games every year and that we win. That can only happen with great young men, which I'm surrounded by and the credit goes to them."
On red zone defense:
"It comes from how well our players execute. We have a simple saying that touchdowns aren't good. It might sound simple but it's what helps us win games. Going into this particular game we were one, two or three in red zone defense in the country so what you saw tonight wasn't anything new, it's just our players doing what they do and I'm lucky to be their coach. They were just consistent as they had been the rest of the season."
BYU vs. SDSU game recap