(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah - One BYU touchdown on a 25-second scoring drive and stellar defense was enough to overpower Utah State, 6-3, in a defensive battle Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
After a first half dominated by defense, the Cougars (4-2) scored the first touchdown of the game with three seconds left before the break. Getting the ball back with 28 seconds on the clock, Taysom Hill moved BYU down field through the air with three back-to-back passes to Cody Hoffman for gains of 8 yards, 28 yards and 22 yards. JD Falslev grabbed a 3-yard toss in the end zone to complete the 4-play, 61-yard scoring drive. After missing the PAT attempt, BYU headed into the locker room with a 6-3 lead and the only touchdown of the game. The scoring drive took 25 seconds, the quickest scoring drive for BYU on the year.
“Utah State matched us down in and down out the entire game all the way to the end," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I think the supporters of Utah State have a great coach leading a great team. I do think, however, our players were very resilient. They performed during some crucial plays up until the very end. It was a fantastic game and an excellent rivalry game. We are lucky, and I’m glad that we won. I’m fortunate to coach this team.”
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BYU outgained Utah State (4-2) 380 to 243 total yards. The game marks the 12th consecutive opponent the Cougars have held under 300 yards. The No. 5 defense hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown in 13 quarters and just three total points. BYU held Utah State to 41 yards rushing and limited the Aggies on third downs, who converted 4 of 14 attempts.
Ezekiel Ansah caused problems early and often for the Aggies with three tackles for loss in the first half, including two sacks. The senior also finished with five total tackles and two quarterback hurries. Senior captain Brandon Ogletree led the defensive effort with seven total tackles and one pass breakup. Defensive back Preston Hadley also came up big with six tackles, one pass breakup and intercepted a Utah State pass in front of the goal line to save a touchdown.
“Ziggy (Ansah) is a remarkable story," Mendenhall said. "For this season to go by without a knowledge that he didn’t know how to put on his pads three years ago is something else. You could make a movie about this at this point.”
Freshman quarterback Hill completed 24 of 36 attempts for 235 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The signal caller added 80 yards on the ground on 19 carries.
Junior wideout Cody Hoffman extended his streak to 25 games with a reception, catching eight passes for 114 yards. Hoffman's catches included a 28-yard jumping grab in one-on-one coverage.
Freshman Jamaal Williams rushed for 71 yards on 17 attempts. His two rushes of 11 yards and 13 yards in the final minute of the game kept the Aggies offense off the field to end the game.
After a three-and-out in their opening drive, the Aggies moved down field on their ensuing drive but settled for a field goal after the Cougars kept Utah State out of end zone on three straight tries within the 10-yard line. The field goal lifted the Aggies to a 3-0 lead in the final seconds of the first quarter.
BYU had a chance to tie the contest in the second quarter but the Aggies blocked the 34-yard field goal attempt.
The Cougars’ defense came out swinging in the second half with back-to-back tackles for loss before Spencer Hadley forced a fumble and Russell Tialavea recovered it at Utah State’s 9-yard line. BYU attempted a fake field goal but was unable to convert.
The defense kept rolling as Jordan Johnson came up with a big pass breakup on a 30-yard attempt by Chuckie Keeton. On the next play, Preston Hadley picked off a gadget play Aggie receiver Cameron Webb trying to throw for a touchdown at BYU’s 2-yard line.
The Aggies knocked on the door again with a turnover of their own in the fourth quarter as Kyler Fackrell intercepted Hill to give the ball back to their offense at midfield. Utah State failed to take advantage of the turnover, missing a 37-yard field goal.
BYU was able to stop Utah State again and run out the clock to end the game.
The Cougars remain at home to face No.14/17 Oregon State for their homecoming game Oct. 13. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. MDT and the game wil be broadcast regionally on ABC.
BYU vs. Utah State postgame notes