Senior linebacker and recently appointed team captain Uani ‘ Unga notched a team-high and career-high 10 tackles, with one tackle for loss. His previous career high was six against Weber State in 2012. Defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna also recorded a career high with 10 tackles, including six solo tackles.
Junior linebacker Alani Fua tallied eight tackles (also a career high) to help the defense hold Virginia to just 223 total offensive yards.
Junior safety Craig Bills snagged a deflected pass to earn his third career interception—his first since 2009.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy filled up the stat sheet yet again as he recorded four tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and one quarterback hurry—a hurry that led to Bills’ interception.
Jamaal Williams, who set BYU true freshman rushing records last year, ran the ball 33 times for 148 yards, just seven yards shy of his career high.
JD Falslev tied for first on the team with three receptions, including the first touchdown on the night for BYU. His receiving score tied his career high in receiving touchdowns. Skyler Ridley also pulled in three catches for 29 yards.
Quarterback Taysom Hill not only passed and ran the ball, but he also punted in the first quarter. Later in the fourth quarter, the sophomore scored the only BYU rushing touchdown of the game.
The Cavaliers converted a safety in the third quarter to go up 12-7. The last time BYU gave up a safety was in 2006 in a win against Tulsa—also the last time the Cougars experienced a lightning delay.
Today’s special teams flag bearer was senior kicker Justin Sorensen, while Manaaki Vaitai carried the team flag. Peter Tuipulotu, who was on the team as a running back in 1987, 1989-91, was present to take the alumni flag.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall
“I think by way of opening comment, very difficult loss for our team under really unique circumstances. Many different momentum shifts. The stop of the game was a unique challenge for our team and I’m sure for Virginia. And then all the way to the end the game was back and forth. I think our offense started to find its rhythm and momentum, started to move the ball effectively, and, to Virginia’s credit, it took a long time for those breakouts to happen. I think the fourth quarter was more of what I envisioned, the type of results we’re expecting to get. I liked the effort and determination and commitment. I thought our team played hard. A lot of mistakes, especially penalties were frustrating, and we certainly need to clean up execution wise. We had a great chance to win the football game all the way from the beginning to the end. I think our team will try hard and they are determined. I think we were gaining momentum as the game went on and not losing momentum. That’s the message I shared with the team.”
On the condition of the team in the fourth quarter:
“I thought we handled it pretty well. I thought our runners were running hard, our receivers sprinting down field. It was a starting point, I don’t think it was a hindrance I think it was a good starting point and something to build from and the pace was fast. To Virginia’s credit they played the run very well.”
On the delay of game:
“It’s hard to describe. All kinds of thoughts go through your head of whether you’re going to play the game, what is the best approach to have for our players during this two-hour delay? After all the emotions of traveling, you get to the game, stop, and then go through pregame again. That was a unique challenge. However, I think our team was mature.”
On running plays:
“The running plays were out of a completely different formation and we thought one, two or three of those plays would crack. And so even though the plays looked conservative by result, the formation, we thought would give us an advantage.”
On moving forward:
“The players are competitive. We all are and there’s a ton of work that goes into every game. Certainly no one is more disappointed than I am and the team is hurt right now. It’s a great chance to discover who we are going to be and how we are going to be going forward. It will take a day or two; this one wasn’t an easy one. We have another significant test coming up so there is a sense of urgency, but there also has to be time to recover.”
On the offense:
“I thought their defensive line did a really nice job against us and it wasn’t until a huge volume of plays built up where cracks started to develop and we started getting yards. We have some work to do in terms of our front play and being physical. To their credibility, they kept fighting until there were cracks. They put a long and sustained drive together in the end and they couldn’t have done that without continuing to battle.
Sophomore Quarterback Taysom Hill
On the game overall
“I thought our guys played hard. We earned a lot of trust and respect for our team tonight. We had a lot of hardships; we overcame a lot of difficulties and things like that. I was proud of them. At the end of the day Virginia made one more play than we did. It’s a tough way to lose a football game.”
On the specifics of the interception
“(It was) third and six. We talked about it on the sideline, let’s go get the first down, and if it’s not there obviously don’t force anything in. They played zone behind it, Jamal Williams ripped the flat, I liked it, threw it a little high and Virginia made a good play.”
On emotions following the game
“I was shocked a little bit. I was feeling really confident. We got the ball with four minutes left in the game and were up. Then we had a mishap and Virginia went and scored, but that was something you can’t dwell on. We had a chance to go and score, and Virginia held. It’s a tough way to lose a football game, but we’re definitely disappointed.”
On whether the game plan was to get Jamaal Williams 33 carries
“Probably not, that’s quite a bit, but he ran like a man today with it raining the way that it was. The refs are spotting the ball and when there is a splash from the ground, it’s hard to get a ball that’s wet and covered in dirt and grass and everything else to pitch and catch it.”
Senior Linebacker Spencer Hadley
On the game overall
“Frustrating. We were right there. We had it and just didn’t finish as a team, so it’s frustrating right now.”
On his team’s play
“It was pretty good. There were some mistakes, some plays we need to go back and look at and clean up, which we will. But overall I felt pretty confident about our ability as a defense and how we played. ”
On the touchdown run by Kevin Parks
“We were just one gap off on one of our assignments, and the runner found it and made a good play.”
Virginia head coach Mike London Quotes
Thoughts on the defense:
“I thought they did a great job of bending, but not breaking. They came up with big plays when they had to; specifically on third downs. My hat goes off to the defensive coaches for their efforts. We didn’t get a lot better tonight, but that was a great football team.”
Thoughts on Anthony Harris lateral after interception:
“Just don’t fumble it. It was a great play by Anthony Harris. I don’t know about the lateral play, but we had possession at that time. That was the turning point. The field goal by [Ian] Frye, the safety, and other big plays in the game turned it around for us. But that was tremendous.”
On character of team and adversity with the severe weather:
“That was amazing. I’m just so proud of this team. It was a long game and that was a very good football team. To have it go like that on our opening game against a well-coached team was great. We are looking forward to our next game. We can be happy now, but we cannot be satisfied.”
On special teams play:
“The field goal and the long punt return were great. We let one loose also. I thought our coverage was pretty good. [Alec] Vozenilek did a great job with catching some punts that were pretty high and he did a great job getting the ball off. It’s good to make plays on special teams, especially against a good team like this. “
On fans returning:
“When I had a voice, I got on the radio and urged them to come back because I knew that the BYU fans were not going anywhere. It was great to see them come back. I appreciate the fans out there for hanging here with us. It was awesome to see them.”
On handling the delay:
“We took their shoulder pads off and kept them hydrated. We told them that the other team is doing the same thing. I think these guys were ready and hungry to play today. Regardless of how long the game went; we felt pretty good about this team. In the locker room, there was chatter and it was great to hear.”