(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
LAS VEGAS -- BYU totaled 444 yards of total offense compared to Arizona’s 416, but the No. 16 Cougars fell short of their third-straight bowl victory Saturday, falling 31-21 to the Arizona Wildcats in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium.
“You have to give Arizona a lot of credit,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, whose teams have won at least 10 games each of the past three seasons. “I thought in those critical moments, Arizona made plays. There are usually 3-5 plays in a game that can change the outcome of the game. I like the effort of our team but we didn’t execute well enough to make those plays.”
BYU put pressure on Arizona with a comeback attempt when the Cougars followed a touchdown with a successful on-side kick. Wide receiver O’Neill Chambers recovered the ball for BYU but the ensuing field-goal attempt hit the upright and left the Wildcats with a two-possession lead with just 2:07 remaining.
Despite the loss, the Cougars boasted two 100-yard receivers for only the third time this season with wideouts Austin Collie and Michael Reed recording 119 and 117 yards, respectively. The game also marked Reed’s only 100-yard receiving game of his senior season.
With his performance, Collie continued to set BYU records in career receptions (215) and single-season receptions (106). The All-American receiver also tied an NCAA single-season record held with Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree with his 11th consecutive 100-yard receiving game.
BYU quarterback Max Hall completed 30-of-46 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown pass. He also scrambled into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown with 3:38 remaining in the game. Sophomore running back Harvey Unga recorded a rushing touchdown for the Cougars and ended the night with 71 yards on 17 carries.
Thanks to a 71-yard pass play to wide receiver Terrell Turner, Arizona was the first team to put points on the scoreboard when Nic Grisby scored from 1-yard out at the 6:23 mark of the first quarter. The Wildcats followed with a 31-yard field goal in the second quarter to take a 10-0 lead. On the series, Arizona recovered a BYU fumble at the BYU 24, but the Cougar defense allowed only 9 yards to force the field goal.
The Cougar offense found some rhythm in the second quarter when Hall marched BYU 78 yards in six plays for a touchdown. Hall connected on two big pass plays to fuel the drive, first finding Reed crossing over the middle for a 35-yard gain and later connecting over the top to Collie for 36 yards to the 3-yard line. A play later, Unga carried the ball in the end zone from 1-yard out to make the score 10-7 with 6:50 to go in the half.
BYU had another good opportunity to score late in the half but came away without points. Starting on their 22, the Cougars moved downfield to the Arizona 18 before three straight penalties stalled the drive. Mitch Payne attempted a 40-yard field goal but his kick sailed wide left. The half ended with both teams totaling 205 yards of total offense.
The Cougars got on the board quickly in the third after Coleby Clawson recovered a Wildcat fumble at the Arizona 27 just 12 seconds into the half. Hall completed the short drive by finding Andrew George wide open in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard strike to put BYU on top, 14-10, at the 11:21 mark on the clock.
The Wildcats regained the momentum with two third-quarter touchdowns to enter the final quarter with a 24-14 advantage. In the fourth, Arizona took advantage of a BYU turnover to increase their lead to 31-14.
With 6:03 remaining in the game, the Cougars put together a scoring drive of 10 plays for 68 yards, capped by Hall’s 1-yard touchdown rush. During that drive Hall completed a 24-yard pass to tight end Dennis Pitta and two passes to Reed for a combined 21 yards.
As Justin Sorensen took the field to kickoff to Arizona with just under four minutes remaining, his 15-yard on-side kick was fumbled by the Wildcats and recovered by Chambers. Hoping for a quick score and chance for the comeback win, Hall led the Cougars down the field, setting up a 38-yard field goal attempt for BYU. Mitch Payne’s kick, however, bounced off the left upright.
The Cougars finished the year 10-3 while the Wildcats improved to 8-5. A crowd of 40,047 watched the game, marking the fourth-highest attendance at a Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and the seventh-best attendance in Sam Boyd Stadium history.
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Box Score (Final)
BY vs Arizona (Dec 20, 2008 at Las Vegas, NV)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
BY.................. 0 7 7 7 - 21 Record: (10-3)
Arizona............. 7 3 14 7 - 31 Record: (8-5)
1st 06:23 ARIZ - Grigsby, N. 1 yd run (Bondzio, Jason kick), 8-96 3:21, BY 0 - ARIZ 7
2nd 09:21 ARIZ - Bondzio, Jason 31 yd field goal, 4-9 0:28, BY 0 - ARIZ 10
06:50 BY - UNGA, Harvey 1 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 6-78 2:24, BY 7 - ARIZ 10
3rd 11:21 BY - GEORGE, Andrew 1 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 6-27 3:24, BY 14 - ARIZ 10
07:07 ARIZ - Dean, D. 37 yd pass from Tuitama, Willie (Bondzio, Jason kick), 2-40 0:46, BY 14 - ARIZ 17
00:25 ARIZ - Gronkowski, C. 24 yd pass from Tuitama, Willie (Bondzio, Jason kick), 5-65 1:48, BY 14 - ARIZ 24
4th 06:09 ARIZ - Tuitama, Willie 6 yd run (Bondzio, Jason kick), 7-82 3:54, BY 14 - ARIZ 31
03:38 BY - HALL, Max 1 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 10-68 2:25, BY 21 - ARIZ 31
FIRST DOWNS................... 22 20
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 32-116 28-91
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 328 325
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 46-30-1 35-24-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 78-444 63-416
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 1-2 2-15
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 6-120 4-86
Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 1-18
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 3-37.0 3-32.3
Fumbles-Lost.................. 4-2 3-3
Penalties-Yards............... 10-76 7-54
Possession Time............... 32:48 27:12
Third-Down Conversions........ 8 of 15 9 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 0 0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 3-4 3-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-8 2-7
RUSHING: BY-UNGA, Harvey 17-71; KARIYA, Bryan 3-24; HALL, Max 10-16;
COLLIE, Austin 1-3; VAKAPUNA, Fui 1-2. Arizona-Grigsby, N. 20-87; Thomas, Mike
3-12; Tuitama, Willie 3-minus 4; Team 2-minus 4.
PASSING: BY-HALL, Max 30-46-1-328. Arizona-Tuitama, Willie 24-35-0-325.
RECEIVING: BY-COLLIE, Austin 11-119; REED, Michael 9-117; PITTA, Dennis
5-58; GEORGE, Andrew 2-15; KARIYA, Bryan 1-8; UNGA, Harvey 1-6; VAKAPUNA, Fui
1-5. Arizona-Dean, D. 7-88; Turner, T. 4-111; Thomas, Mike 4-29; Gronkowski, R.
4-27; Gronkowski, C. 2-43; Antolin, K. 2-21; Criner, J. 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS: BY-None. Arizona-Hundley, M. 1-18.
FUMBLES: BY-HALL, Max 2-2; WHITE, Reed 1-0; CHAMBERS, O'Nei 1-0.
Arizona-Tuitama, Willie 1-1; Grigsby, N. 1-1; Team 1-1.
SACKS (UA-A): BY-NIXON, David 1-0. Arizona-Reed, B. 1-0; Kelley, X. 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): BY-FOWLER, Kellen 6-9; BAUMAN, Matt 2-5; BRADLEY, Brando
5-1; NIXON, David 2-3; TAFUNA, David 1-4; DOMAN, Shawn 1-3; PUTNAM, Matt 2-1;
SORENSEN, Danie 1-2; ALISA, Michael 2-0; TEAM 2-0; DENNEY, Brett 1-1; CLAWSON,
Coleby 1-1; JOHNSON, Scott 1-1; JORGENSEN, Jan 1-0; SORENSEN, Justi 1-0; AH YOU,
Matt 1-0; DULAN, Ian 0-1; HADLEY, Spencer 0-1; HOWARD, Brandon 0-1; MUEHLMANN,
Chri 0-1; HOOKS, Terrance 0-1; PITTA, Dennis 0-1; REYNOLDS, Dalla 0-1.
Arizona-Kelley, X. 4-11; Nelson, C. 4-7; Hundley, M. 3-5; Palmer,Ronnie 2-6;
McCovy, A. 2-5; Ross, D. 5-1; Mitchell, E. 2-3; Ness, N. 1-4; Reed, B. 1-3;
Tuihalamaka, V. 2-1; Horton, D. 2-1; Wade, T. 1-2; Perkins, J. 1-1; Hall, C.
0-2; Elmore, R. 0-2; Gronkowski, R. 1-0; Reed, D. 0-1; Tuipulotu, K. 0-1;
Vargas, O. 0-1; Foster, T. 0-1; Golden, R. 0-1.