Senior linebacker Bryan Kehl grabbed his first career interception and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to give the Cougars an early 7-0 lead at New Mexico. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (September 29, 2007)?BYU improved to 3-2 on the season and collected its first road victory of the season, defeating New Mexico 31-24 on Saturday. With the win, the Cougars jumped to 2-0 in league play, while the Lobos fell to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in conference.
The Cougars got their 10th consecutive Mountain West Conference win and eighth straight MWC road victory behind quarterback Max Hall's 18-40, 251-yard night. Hall threw two touchdown passes on the night. Sophomore Austin Collie caught four balls for 98 yards, including a season-long 59-yard touchdown reception wih 9:23 left in the third quarter to give the Cougars a 21-6 lead.
"Coach Long had his team very well prepared, getting after us defensively," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "The bottom line to me is we played on the road against a conference team and found a way to make enough plays to win the game."
With nine and a half minutes to go in the third quarter and facing a third-and-10, Hall found Collie open along the right sideline. The two connected for a 59-yard touchdown, a career-long pass for Hall, that gave the Cougars a 21-6 lead. The scoring drive, which began as a result of a Bryan Kehl forced fumble, appeared to put BYU firmly in the driver's seat.
However, a Hall fumble deep in BYU territory late in the third quarter allowed Lobo running back Rodney Ferguson to score on a 5-yard carry four plays later. A little over a minute later it was Ferguson again trouncing into the end zone, this time on a 71-yard touchdown reception. New Mexico converted the two-point conversion to even the game at 21-all heading into the final quarter.
"The Lobos are a team that has a lot of heart," Mendenhall said. "They don't quit, and they are tough. That makes it more significant to win here. Turnovers played a huge part in the nature of the game and our win. You take the turnovers away and the Lobos easily could have won the football game."
With the Lobos driving, the Cougar defense applied enough pressure to force another New Mexico fumble. Defensive end Ian Dulan recovered the loose ball, setting up a 14-yard touchdown reception for tight end Dennis Pitta that put BYU ahead 28-21.
UNM responded with a 43-yard field goal to cut its deficit to four points, but the Lobos would not get any closer. New Mexico safety Frankie Solomon fumbled a punt return with 6:25 remaining in the game. The turnover led to what looked to be an Andrew George game-sealing, 11-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. However, after an official's review that lasted well over five minutes, the score was nullified, and BYU had to settle for a field goal.
The Cougars took a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game when a Lobo pass attempt bounced out of senior wide receiver Travis Brown's arms and into the hands of linebacker Kehl. The senior from Salt Lake City returned his first career interception 36 yards for the touchdown.
"I think the players played extremely hard, but we turned the ball over too much," New Mexico head coach Rocky Long said. "I told our players that we turned the ball over way too many times to expect to win."
In the second quarter junior running back Manase Tonga scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season on an 8-yard run. The score, which capped a 7-play, 57-yard drive, gave the Cougars a 14-0 advantage.
BYU's defense came up with another big play on New Mexico's next possession, as senior Quinn Gooch intercepted a flea-flicker intended for Brown. The pick was Gooch's second in as many games.
The Lobos got on the board just before halftime by marching 51 yards up the field in 2 minutes and 43 seconds. Ferguson punched in the one-yard touchdown carry. The missed PAT made it a 14-6 game at the break.
BYU gets a bye this week before traveling to Las Vegas to play UNLV Saturday, Oct. 13. The game will be shown live on The mtn. at 6:30 p.m. (PST).
Box Score (Final)
BYU Cougars vs New Mexico (Sep 29, 2007 at Albuquerque, NM)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
BYU Cougars......... 7 7 7 10 - 31 Record: (3-2,2-0)
New Mexico.......... 0 6 15 3 - 24 Record: (3-2,0-1)
1st 13:06 BY - KEHL, 36 yd interception return (PAYNE, kick)
2nd 11:50 BY - TONGA, 8 yd run (PAYNE, kick), 7-57 2:15
01:41 UNM - FERGUSON, 1 yd run (SULLIVAN, kick failed), 8-51 2:43
3rd 09:23 BY - COLLIE, 59 yd pass from HALL,(PAYNE, kick), 3-59 0:17
02:23 UNM - FERGUSON, Rodne 5 yd run (SULLIVAN, John kick), 4-19 1:32
00:27 UNM - FERGUSON, 71 yd pass from PORTERIE, (MARK, pass from
PORTERIE, Donov), 2-71 0:20
4th 11:04 BY - PITTA, 14 yd pass from HALL,(PAYNE, kick), 4-31 1:27
07:34 UNM - SULLIVAN, John 43 yd field goal, 8-38 3:23, BY 28 - UNM 24
04:12 BY - PAYNE, Mitch 22 yd field goal, 6-17 2:13
FIRST DOWNS................... 21 16
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 43-112 36-115
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 251 231
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 40-18-1 38-20-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 83-363 74-346
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-15 4--8
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 2-42 5-104
Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-36 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 10-46.2 8-41.5
Fumbles-Lost.................. 3-1 3-3
Penalties-Yards............... 7-56 8-60
Possession Time............... 31:26 28:34
Third-Down Conversions........ 5 of 18 7 of 17
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 0 0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 3-4 2-2
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 3-16 3-15
RUSHING: BYU Cougars-UNGA, Harvey 22-56; TONGA, Manase 13-54; SEMANOFF, Joe
1-1; HALL, Max 6-1; TEAM 1-0. New Mexico-FERGUSON, Rodne 22-87; BAKER, Paul
7-35; QUILLEN, Matt 1-5; SMITH, Marcus 1-3; PORTERIE, Donov 5-minus 15.
PASSING: BYU Cougars-HALL, Max 18-40-1-251. New Mexico-PORTERIE, Donov
RECEIVING: BYU Cougars-COLLIE, Austin 4-98; PITTA, Dennis 4-49; REED, Michael
3-24; UNGA, Harvey 2-34; ALLEN, Matt 2-22; TONGA, Manase 2-10; SEMANOFF, Joe
1-14. New Mexico-SMITH, Marcus 7-53; BROWN, Travis 5-34; FERGUSON, Rodne 4-
105;BRUNO, Roland 2-28; MARK, Chris 1-14; QUILLEN, Matt 1-minus 3.
INTERCEPTIONS: BYU Cougars-KEHL, Bryan 1-36; GOOCH, Quinn 1-0. New
Mexico-WRIGHT, DeAndre 1-0.
FUMBLES: BYU Cougars-HALL, Max 2-1; UNGA, Harvey 1-0. New Mexico-QUILLEN,
Matt 1-1; SOLOMON, Franki 1-1; PORTERIE, Donov 1-1.
SACKS (UA-A): BYU Cougars-STAFFIERI, Mark 1-0; DULAN, Ian 1-0; DENNEY, Brett
1-0. New Mexico-TUOHY, Michael 1-1; DONALDSON, Tyle 0-1; MOSLEY, Major 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): BYU Cougars-STAFFIERI, Mark 6-4; KEHL, Bryan 4-5; POPPINGA,
Kelly 3-5; NIXON, David 4-2; HODGKISS, Corby 2-4; GOOCH, Quinn 3-2; BAUMAN,
Matt 2-2; JOHNSON, Scott 2-2; DENNEY, Brett 2-2; JORGENSEN, Jan 2-2; DULAN,
Ian 2-1; MANUMALEUNA,Eth 2-1; NELSON, Grant 1-2; BUCHANAN, Kayle 2-0;
SAULSBERRY, And 1-0; WHITE, Reed 0-1; WOLFLEY, Rick 0-1. New Mexico-ARNETT,
Zach 3-4; SWIFT, OJ 3-4; DONALDSON, Tyle 2-5; JENKINS, Jerome 4-2; CLARK,
Ian 2-4; McPEEK, Clint 1-5; WRIGHT, DeAndre 4-1; KASE, Cody 2-3; TUOHY,
Michael 2-2; DITMORE, Tyson 1-3; BECK, Wesley 1-3; FELDER, Herbert 1-2;
LIGON, Blake 1-2; MOSLEY, Major 2-0; SOLOMON, Franki 1-1; MADSEN, Brett 1-1;
CARTER, George 0-2; QUIN, Glover 1-0; LOVATO, Jeremia 1-0; BRISCOE, Kendal 0-
1; HUTCHISON, Step 0-1; HARRISON, Phill 0-1; BALOGUN, Kevin 0-1.