Tight end Dennis Pitta caught two touchdowns in BYU's 35-17 win over Utah State on Friday night. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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PROVO -- No. 20 BYU kept its win streak alive against Utah State, beating the Aggies for the 10th time in a row, 35-17, on Friday in front of a sold-out LaVell Edwards Stadium crowd of 64,103 in the team’s last nonconference game of the season.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 4-1 on the year and maintain the Old Wagon Wheel—which is held by the winner of the in-state BYU-Utah State rivalry.
“I really think the defensive performance was exceptional today,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “There was a lot of grit, determination and physical play.”
Quarterback Max Hall completed 16-of-23 passes for 218 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. BYU’s 431 yards of total offense were split fairly evenly between the passing and running games, with the Cougar ground game adding 213 yards.
“I think we’re very good when we run the ball and have balance,” Mendenhall said. “I like the idea of running it as much as we can.”
Harvey Unga recorded his second-straight game of over 100 yards rushing, totaling 118 yards on 21 carries, a 5.1 yards-per-carry average. The junior's six total touchdowns on the year lead the team.
Junior wide receiver Luke Ashworth, who recorded his first start of the 2009 season, led all BYU receivers with a career-high 90 yards receiving on five catches and picked up his first career touchdown early in the second quarter.
All-American tight end Dennis Pitta scored BYU's first touchdown of the night on a six-yard strike to answer an early Utah State touchdown and tie the game, 7-7 late in the first quarter. He finished with 83 yards on five catches.
Ashworth's score came as he faked to the outside and shook off his Aggie defender before cutting up the sideline with less than a minute into the second quarter. Hall found the junior wide open and in stride, hitting Ashworth for the 48-yard touchdown, the second-longest touchdown of the season.
“Luke [Ashworth's] been battling for a couple of years,” Mendenhall said. “This year he’s emerging. It’s been fun to see that for a guy who’s invested all that time and now has the opportunity.”
BYU appeared to be heading into halftime up just one score, but Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel threw an errant pitch that hit the turf, enabling junior defensive back Andrew Rich to recover the fumble deep on the Aggies’ side of the field.
The Cougars would capitalize on the turnover, scoring from three yards out on Manase Tonga’s first rushing touchdown of the year.
“It’s our job to get our offense the ball in short-field positions,” Rich said. “I thought [the fumble] was a huge part of the game.”
At halftime, BYU had outgained Utah State with 268 total yards to just 42 for the Aggies. The Cougar defense sacked Borel twice in the half, once by senior linebacker Shawn Doman and another by defensive lineman Brett Denney. The sacks were firsts for both players in 2009, with Doman's marking the first of his career.
Also on defense, defensive back Scott Johnson and linebacker Terrance Hooks had nine tackles apiece to lead BYU, while defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen and linebacker Coleby Clawson each added eight tackles.
Holding on to a 21-10 lead, BYU iced the win with 14 minutes left thanks to a fourth-and-one stop by Rich. Snapping from their own 32-yard line, Utah State’s Robert Turbin ran a sweep around the left end. Rich came up from the backfield, bringing down Turbin short of the first down and giving the ball back to the Cougar offense.
Unga made sure BYU took advantage of the short field, rushing for 23 yards to the eight before rumbling up the middle on the next play for his second touchdown of the game.
BYU would again thwart an Aggie fourth-down conversion attempt on the following Utah State possession whereupon the Cougars marched down for an 11-play, 64-yard scoring drive.
Riley Nelson subbed in at quarterback to convert a key third-down with a 13-yard run, keeping the drive alive. Five plays later, Hall found Pitta on a 13-yard out route for BYU's final score of the game. USU scored with three seconds remaining for the final margin.
The Cougars resume practice next week in preparation for a MWC contest at UNLV on Oct. 10. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT and will be televised nationally on The Mtn.
Box Score (Final)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Utah State.......... 7 0 3 7 - 17 Record: (1-3,0-0 WAC)
BYU................. 7 14 0 14 - 35 Record: (4-1,1-0 MWC)
1st 10:28 USU - Diondre Borel 6 yd run (Chris Ulinski kick), 8-50 3:43, USU 7 - BY 0
02:14 BY - PITTA, Dennis 6 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 18-83 8:07, USU 7 - BY 7
2nd 14:22 BY - ASHWORTH, Luke 48 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 4-72 1:22, USU 7 - BY 14
00:29 BY - TONGA, Manase 3 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 2-29 0:10, USU 7 - BY 21
3rd 08:05 USU - Chris Ulinski 20 yd field goal, 7-45 3:13, USU 10 - BY 21
4th 13:09 BY - UNGA, Harvey 8 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 2-31 0:40, USU 10 - BY 28
02:45 BY - PITTA, Dennis 13 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 11-64 6:20, USU 10 - BY 35
00:03 USU - Xavier Bowman 16 yd pass from Diondre Borel (Chris Ulinski kick), 10-73 2:34, USU 17 - BY 35
FIRST DOWNS................... 20 22
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 37-109 43-213
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 213 218
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 30-20-0 23-16-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 67-322 66-431
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 1-7 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 1-3 1-9
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 4-75 3-73
Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-16 0-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 5-49.2 3-37.0
Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards............... 6-55 8-54
Possession Time............... 28:45 31:15
Third-Down Conversions........ 6 of 14 8 of 12
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 2 1 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 3-3 4-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-4 3-8
RUSHING: Utah State-Robert Turbin 17-47; Diondre Borel 16-38; Michael
Smith 4-24. BYU-UNGA, Harvey 21-118; TONGA, Manase 7-31; DI LUIGI, JJ 4-20;
HALL, Max 6-17; KARIYA, Bryan 3-14; NELSON, Riley 1-13; TEAM 1-0.
PASSING: Utah State-Diondre Borel 20-28-0-213; Team 0-2-0-0. BYU-HALL,
RECEIVING: Utah State-Omar Sawyer 4-58; S. Morrison 3-36; Eric Moats
2-25; Xavier Bowman 2-24; Austin Alder 2-20; Mikhail Morgan 2-17; Jeremy
Mitchell 1-11; Kellen Bartlett 1-11; Nnamdi Gwacham 1-9; Robert Turbin 1-5;
Michael Smith 1-minus 3. BYU-ASHWORTH, Luke 5-91; PITTA, Dennis 5-83; CHAMBERS,
O'Nei 2-15; TONGA, Manase 2-14; GEORGE, Andrew 1-9; HAFOKA, Spencer 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS: Utah State-Rajric Coleman 1-16; Kejon Murphy 1-0.
FUMBLES: Utah State-Diondre Borel 2-1. BYU-HAFOKA, Spencer 1-1.
SACKS (UA-A): Utah State-James Brindley 1-0. BYU-DOMAN, Shawn 1-0;
JORGENSEN, Jan 1-0; DENNEY, Brett 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): Utah State-Rajric Coleman 6-7; Bobby Wagner 6-6; James
Brindley 7-4; Paul Igboeli 4-2; Chris Randle 2-2; Adrian Bybee 1-2; Levi Koskan
1-2; Kejon Murphy 2-0; Junior Keiaho 2-0; Jerome Barbour 2-0; K. Vainikolo 1-0;
Josh Flores 1-0; Chris Ulinski 1-0; Sean Enesi 1-0; Austin Alder 1-0; Curtis
Marsh 1-0; Devin Johnson 1-0; Nathan Royster 0-1; Kyle Gallagher 0-1; Antonio
May 0-1; Cache Morgan 0-1; Reuben Willis 0-1; Quinn Garner 0-1. BYU-JOHNSON,
Scott 6-3; HOOKS, Terrance 4-5; JORGENSEN, Jan 3-5; CLAWSON, Coleby 2-6; BAUMAN,
Matt 6-1; BUCKNER, Robbie 4-0; RICH, Andrew 4-0; DENNEY, Brett 2-2; FUGA, Romney
3-0; DOMAN, Shawn 1-2; PUTNAM, Matt 1-1; PENDLETON, Jord 1-1; HUNTER, Shane 0-2;
KARIYA, Bryan 1-0; NELSON, Grant 1-0; BRADLEY, Brando 1-0; TE'O, Shiloah 1-0;
REYNOLDS, Matt 1-0; UALE, Travis 0-1; LOGAN, Brian 0-1; ATKINSON, Jorda 0-1;
MARSHALL, Matt 0-1; HOLA, Tevita 0-1; MEES, Carter 0-1.