Cougars use strong second half to beat Nevada

(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

RENO, Nev. – Jamaal Williams ran for a career-high 219 yards and one touchdown to lead BYU to a 28-23 win over Nevada on the road Saturday afternoon.

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The Cougars (8-4) were held to just 150 yards of offense and zero points in the first half but exploded for 342 yards and 28 points to hold on for the win. Nevada (4-8, 3-5 MW) made it a five-point game with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter but was unable to get any closer.

Taysom Hill went 14-for-18 for 98 yards and two touchdowns and joined Williams with over 100 yards rushing, going for 154 on 26 carries and another touchdown.

After both teams combined to punt on the final five drives of the first half, BYU and Nevada scored on the opening three drives of the second half.

Williams got BYU on the board on the second play of the second half to even the score at 7-7. Williams ran untouched for 66 yards off the left tackle and down the middle of the field for his second-longest run of the season.

On its next possession, Nevada scored and jumped ahead 14-7. The drive was kept alive when BYU was assessed a penalty on fourth down that gave the Wolf Pack an automatic first down.

BYU responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Kaneakua Friel to tie the game at 14-14 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. The offense hit its stride in the third quarter as the unit recorded three first downs and ran for 57 yards on seven carries.

Hill found JD Falslev in the left corner of the end zone to give the Cougars their first lead of the game at 21-14 just 10 seconds into the fourth quarter. BYU converted four first downs on the drive and had four plays of over seven yards, including a 15-yard run by Williams.

The Cougars extended their lead to 28-17 on a 35-yard touchdown run by Hill with six and a half minutes left in the game. On the play, Hill dropped back to pass, but found a seam down the left sideline and ran through a couple of arm tackles on his way to his ninth touchdown of the season.

Nevada took the opening kickoff, drove the length of the field and punched it in from two yards out on a Kendall Brock rush to take a 7-0 lead.

BYU stopped the Wolf Pack on three downs but gave the ball right back to Nevada on a muffed punt. The Cougars defense held strong and forced the home team to settle for a field goal. Logan Taele broke through the line and blocked the kick to keep the score at 7-0.

With Nevada driving down the field, the defense again came up with a big stop to keep the score the same. Robertson Daniel out-jumped the wide receiver in the end zone for his first career interception at BYU.

Both teams traded punts for the remainder of the second quarter before the Wolf Pack took a knee to end the first half with Nevada leading 7-0.

Nevada drove down the field and scored with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter for the final points of the game, 28-23. The Wolf Pack went for two, but Kyle Van Noy intercepted the pass in the end zone to keep the score from being any closer.

Uani ‘Unga finished with a team-high 11 tackles for his eighth double-digit tackle game of the season. Mike Hague recorded nine tackles, and Marques Johnson tallied a career-high seven tackles.

BYU returns to action in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. PST. The Pac-12 opponent will be announced at a later date.

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