Junior quarterback Riley Nelson led BYU on two late scoring drives as BYU defeated Utah State, 27-24. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Postgame notes and quotes from BYU's 27-24 win over Utah State
Junior Riley Nelson took over the game at quarterback for BYU late in the third quarter, throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass on his second drive, his first TD throw since last season’s home opener vs. Washington. Nelson finished 10 of 14 for a career-high 144 yards while tying a career high with two touchdowns.
On the game-winning scoring drive, Nelson led BYU 98 yards, including 4 of 5 passing for 66 yards and 32 yards on three rushes of his own after beginning the drive with a 2-yard loss back at the 2-yard line.
A WEIRD PATTERN
All three BYU wins in 2011 have come 1) after trailing at halftime 2) when the opponent scores first 3) after losing the coin toss 4) while playing on ESPN.
BYU rushed 46 times for 200 yards, a season high. Riley Nelson led BYU with a season-high 62 yards on 11 attempts.
Jake Heaps 1-yard rush was BYU’s first touchdown in the first quarter in a game this season and gave BYU its most points scored in a first quarter this season. It was Heaps’ second career TD.
Sophomore Cody Hoffman caught his first touchdown pass of the season while totaling four receptions for 68 yards and four kick returns for 90 yards. His 158 total all-purpose yards gives him three 100+ game of the year.
STREAK STOPS AT SEVEN
Sophomore Justin Sorensen kicked two field goals of 23 and 29 yards, respectively, giving him seven conversions in a row before missing a 47-yard attempt tonight to break the streak. He is also 8 of 8 on PAT attempts this year.
Overcoming an 11-point Aggie lead, the fourth quarter comeback is BYU's second biggest comeback of the season after coming back from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter in the season opener against Ole Miss.
BYU scored on its opening drive for the third time this year, going 68 yards on 18 plays in 6:31. The plays and time marks are the highest for a Cougar scoring drive this season.
RUNNING OUT THE FLAG
BYU was led out of the tunnel today by Braden Hansen carrying the team flag and Cody Hoffman with the special teams flag. The special teams flag, highlighted by an old school BYU logo adopted by the special teams, is a new addition this season. First-team All-WAC linebacker Alema Fitisemanu (1984-85, 89-90) carried out the alumni flag.
BYU HEAD COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL
“Riley realized it was his opportunity and he ran with it. He is someone that I admire for just the natural competitive mindset that he has. He won’t sit on the sideline pouting, but he’ll be out there on the field helping our team. He has a very unselfish mindset about him.”
“[Brandon] Ogletree came up next to me and he said ‘Do you remember the spring game? I believe in Riley Nelson,’ and he was smiling. It mattered to me that he would believe in his teammate so much that he would come to me and say that.”
“It took them awhile to respond to the change and that was the intent. It takes some time to adjust and while you’re adjusting and the chains are moving you’re not as settled because it wasn’t what you prepared most for. While I was watching the game I was thinking that they were reacting very similarly to the way that we reacted to the quarterback change in the Texas game.”
“I don’t think our players lost faith in Jake. I think they see great potential in him. I expect our team to rally around Jake and I don’t think they lost any confidence in him. The position is difficult and I expect our team to help him bounce back.”
“It adds a whole different dimension to a defensive coach to have to deal with a scrambling quarterback and it taxes the defensive front as well. It is very difficult during the game to suddenly switch what you have been practicing throughout the week.”
“When the will catches up with the execution then you have a chance of being a great team and this was a step in the right direction. A giant step forward for our offense because the defense and special teams weren’t creating as many opportunities as the previous game.”
“Our team is battered and bruised and sweating and dripping and that’s the way that I want to win games.”
"We went against a great opponent and to be able to come back like that was special for our team."
"We have a tough schedule and every game is going to be decided by a touchdown or less and we’re ready for it and I know Cougar fans are, too. It’s going to be a fun season."
"If you go in there and not play too well no one is really expecting anything. But if you go in and play well then you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. I went in with that mindest and I tried to go in and control my emotions. I tried really hard to calm myself down and just play football. I didn’t do it perfectly but I think I did a pretty good job."
UTAH STATE HEAD COACH GARY ANDERSEN
"It is difficult, again. We got a stop when we needed a stop. I’ll just tell you guys what I told the kids. We are in a position to kick a field goal, can’t get enough yards, and a 47-yard field goal is not us and is not what were about, so we decided to run a fake and it didn’t work. Then we come back and stop them on defense, get the ball back, but then couldn’t get the first down. Then from there we couldn’t stop them when we needed to.
"It’s not one phase, not one group. We just couldn’t execute when we had to have it at the end. I’m very proud of these kids. I think they get better every week. I truly believe that. Their minds are right and they will stay right. There is a lot of care and belief in that locker room and we are learning a lot of life lessons in that locker room. I love being their coach and being a part of this team. This is as hard of a stretch as I have ever been through as a coach or player but it is what it is. We need to continue to move on and fight."
"Riley did a nice job. He came in and made some plays with his feet. It’s very different defending him. It’s QB run game and the opportunity to create the matchups you want in the passing game go out the window because you can’t empty the box like we had been the whole game. But obviously tonight they were a better football team."
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