Dennis Pitta caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to help the Cougars go up 28-7. With five catches on the night, he became the Cougars all-time leader in receptions by a tight end. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
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PROVO -- A quick start in the first quarter propelled No. 19 BYU (3-1) over Colorado State (3-1), 42-23, to open Mountain West Conference play with a win Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium in front of a sellout crowd of 64,091.
The Cougar offense scored all three first quarter touchdowns on drives of less than forty seconds, with each possession taking just two plays thanks to the defensive and special teams units. All three scores came on the ground for the Cougars, the first time BYU has rushed for three touchdowns in a quarter since a 62-41 win against Air Force in 2005.
On Colorado State’s first possession, the Cougar defense stepped up when junior defensive back Brian Logan found himself right in front of a tipped ball by a Ram receiver, intercepting the pass and taking it 20 yards to the CSU 15-yard line. Senior Manase Tonga ran the ball down to the 4-yard line, setting up a touchdown run by junior Harvey Unga.
Junior Andrew Rich picked off Ram quarterback Grant Stucker for the second time in the quarter, snagging another tipped ball to set the Cougars up at midfield. On the first play of drive, quarterback Max Hall hit O'Neill Chambers streaking down the left sideline for a 37-yard pitch-and-catch to the Ram 2-yard line. Hall finished off the drive himself, walking into the end zone for an easy touchdown with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
“We were certainly opportunistic in the first half and made crucial plays through execution in the second half,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “You have to make the right plays at the right time and our players did that. It was a good victory for us.”
The Davey O’Brien candidate Hall added two touchdown passes to his own run, completing 18-of-29 passes for 241 yards and two interceptions.
BYU special teams helped the Cougars score one more time before the end of the quarter with a blocked punt that went out of bounds at the Ram 17. Five Cougars blitzed CSU punter Pete Kontodiakos with sophomore wide receiver Matt Marshall getting a piece of the kick.
Unga rumbled in from five yards for his second touchdown of the game two plays later. The running back shook off the cobwebs of a hamstring injury that plagued him early in the season, adding another run from two yards away for six points in the fourth quarter to finish with three touchdowns and a game-high 113 yards on 22 carries.
“I think it was one step closer to what we’re going to get from Harvey,” Mendenhall said. “He runs hard, runs physical and is a good football player.”
Play slowed in the second quarter, as a three-yard pass from Stucker to Dion Morton gave Colorado State its first points and finished the half down 21-7. Stucker’s arm kept busy throughout the game, throwing 50 passes, completing 30 for 372 yards and two touchdowns. Tyson Liggett was the main beneficiary, collecting 11 receptions for 156 yards to lead all receivers.
BYU finished with 373 yards of total offense (241 passing, 132 rushing) compared with 438 (372 passing, 66 rushing) for Colorado State. The Cougar defense held the Rams to just 7-of-17 on third down conversions. Scott Johnson led BYU with 12 tackles and Andrew Rich complemented his early interception with 10 tackles.
Coleby Clawson, Vic So’oto and Romney Fuga each picked up sacks for the Cougars. The takedowns by So'oto and Fuga were the first of their careers.
Two Cougars scored their first touchdowns of the season in the second half. Senior tight end Dennis Pitta snagged a catch on third-and-goal from the 18-yard line in the third quarter. The touchdown was the first for Pitta since last year’s contest against Colorado State in November. During the drive, Pitta made four of his five catches on the night and passed Hall of Famer Gordon Hudson to become the Cougars' all-time receptions leader among tight ends with 180.
Sophomore wide receiver Spencer Hafoka scored the first touchdown of his career late in the fourth quarter, catching a short pass from Hall, then cutting and juking for a 24-yard score.
Coach Mendenhall and the Cougars wanted to finish the game strong. “It’s easy if you have a lead to get complacent. I don’t want our team to get comfortable. In the MWC we all know each other and it’s easy to see a lead shrink.”
Box Score (Final)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Colorado State...... 0 7 7 9 - 23 Record: (3-1,0-1)
BYU................. 21 0 7 14 - 42 Record: (3-1,1-0)
1st 12:44 BY - UNGA, Harvey 4 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 2-15 0:39, CS 0 - BY 7
03:04 BY - HALL, Max 1 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 2-39 0:37, CS 0 - BY 14
00:25 BY - UNGA, Harvey 5 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 2-18 0:35, CS 0 - BY 21
2nd 09:56 CS - MORTON, Dion 3 yd pass from STUCKER, Grant (DELINE, Ben kick), 10-63 5:20, CS 7 - BY 21
3rd 06:56 BY - PITTA, Dennis 18 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 10-82 4:33, CS 7 - BY 28
02:51 CS - MASON, Leonard 5 yd run (DELINE, Ben kick), 8-64 3:55, CS 14 - BY 28
4th 14:02 CS - DELINE, Ben 38 yd field goal, 7-40 2:09, CS 17 - BY 28
07:04 BY - UNGA, Harvey 2 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 15-68 6:51, CS 17 - BY 35
05:02 CS - LIGGETT, Tyson 13 yd pass from STUCKER, Grant (STUCKER, Grant rush failed), 9-83 1:57, CS 23 - BY 35
04:05 BY - HAFOKA, Spencer 24 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 3-28 0:57, CS 23 - BY 42
FIRST DOWNS................... 26 20
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 28-66 34-132
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 372 241
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 50-30-2 29-18-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 78-438 63-373
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-2 2-22
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 6-140 3-69
Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-0 2-20
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 5-34.4 4-51.0
Fumbles-Lost.................. 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards............... 6-52 10-117
Possession Time............... 33:19 26:41
Third-Down Conversions........ 7 of 17 11 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 2 0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 3-5 5-5
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-8 3-35
RUSHING: Colorado State-MASON, Leonard 12-51; MOSURE, John 11-41; PAUGA,
Zac 2-10; STUCKER, Grant 3-minus 36. BYU-UNGA, Harvey 22-113; TONGA, Manase
1-11; HALL, Max 8-4; DI LUIGI, JJ 1-4; KARIYA, Bryan 1-3; TEAM 1-minus 3.
PASSING: Colorado State-STUCKER, Grant 30-50-2-372. BYU-HALL, Max
RECEIVING: Colorado State-LIGGETT, Tyson 11-156; MORTON, Dion 5-43;
PEITZ, Eric 4-48; PAUGA, Zac 4-26; MOSURE, John 3-51; YEMM, Matt 2-29; GREER,
Rashaun 1-19. BYU-PITTA, Dennis 5-59; CHAMBERS, O'Nei 3-70; ASHWORTH, Luke 2-24;
JACOBSON, McKay 2-21; KARIYA, Bryan 2-9; HAFOKA, Spencer 1-24; DI LUIGI, JJ
1-14; TONGA, Manase 1-13; GEORGE, Andrew 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS: Colorado State-KAWULOK, Michae 1-0; OPPENNEER, Nick 1-0.
BYU-LOGAN, Brian 1-20; RICH, Andrew 1-0.
FUMBLES: Colorado State-STUCKER, Grant 1-0. BYU-HALL, Max 1-0.
SACKS (UA-A): Colorado State-GIPSON, Chris 2-0. BYU-SO'OTO, Vic 1-0;
CLAWSON, Coleby 1-0; FUGA, Romney 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): Colorado State-KUBIAK, Klint 5-7; SMITH, Elijah-B 5-4;
THOMAS, Gerard 3-3; GIPSON, Chris 2-4; SKELTON, James 3-2; SISSON, Mychal 2-2;
WILKINSON, DeAn 2-2; OPPENNEER, Nick 1-3; MILLER, Guy 1-2; KAWULOK, Michae 1-2;
MACON, Cory 1-1; ZICK, Scott 1-0; FORD, Travis 1-0; TEAM 1-0; LATU, Nuku 0-1;
JAMES, C.J. 0-1; MARTINEZ, Adria 0-1; OWENS, Brandon 0-1; WHITTIER, Ty 0-1;
MORTON, Dion 0-1. BYU-JOHNSON, Scott 10-2; RICH, Andrew 6-4; CLAWSON, Coleby
4-5; FUGA, Romney 3-6; LOGAN, Brian 3-5; DOMAN, Shawn 2-6; BRADLEY, Brando 3-2;
HOOKS, Terrance 2-2; OGLETREE, Brand 2-1; BAUMAN, Matt 1-2; JORGENSEN, Jan 1-1;
PENDLETON, Jord 0-2; DENNEY, Brett 0-2; MENDENHALL, Zek 1-0; THOMAS, Steven 1-0;
SO'OTO, Vic 1-0; MEES, Carter 1-0; NELSON, Grant 1-0; HUNTER, Shane 0-1; HOLA,
Tevita 0-1; TE'O, Shiloah 0-1; PACE, John 0-1; MARSHALL, Matt 0-1; GASKINS,