Game Notes: Cougars Take Final Road Trip to New Mexico

Tight end Andrew George caught a career-high two touchdowns in BYU's 21-3 win over New Mexico last season (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

NEW MEXICO MARKS FINAL ROAD TRIP

In their final road game of the regular season the No. 22 Cougars (7-2, 4-1 MWC) prepare for a matchup against Mountain West Conference foe New Mexico (0-9, 0-5 MWC) on Saturday at 12 p.m. MT in Albuquerque.

BYU is coming off a 52-0 victory over Wyoming last week, its second consecutive shutout win over the Cowboys after defeating them 44-0 last season.

New Mexico hosts the Cougars after a 45-14 loss at No. 14 Utah last Saturday and will be looking for its first win of the season as BYU comes to town.

ON THE TUBE

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on The Mtn. Ari Wolfe will provide play-by-play coverage, with Blaine Fowler lending analysis. Keenan McCardell will report from the sidelines. The Mtn. introduces Wolfe to a portion of its MWC football telecasts this season as he splits time between The Mtn. and Big Ten Network. Since his career as a quarterback at BYU from 1981-85, Fowler has broadcast nearly 500 live college football and basketball games, for networks such as Video West Sports, the Blue and White Network and SportsWest. McCardell is one of the most prolific wide receivers in NFL history, totaling 883 career receptions, 11,373 yards receiving and scored 63 touchdowns during his 17-year NFL career. The game will mark the sixth of seven BYU games available on The Mtn. during the 2009 season.

WHAT THE GAME MEANS

- With a win at University Stadium BYU will improve its 2009 away record to 6-0 for the first time since 2001. That year the Cougars were 6-0 on the road before losing at Hawaii.

- A victory on Saturday would give quarterback Max Hall a total of 29 career wins, tying him with Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer who currently tops the BYU record list.

- Defeating New Mexico on Saturday will give the Cougars a perfect 4-0 road record against MWC opponents for the fifth time since the inception of the league. BYU also went undefeated in MWC road games in 2001, 2006 and 2007.

THE BYU-NEW MEXICO SERIES

The Cougars hold an all-time record of 43-14-1 against the Lobos, including a 21-9-1 record over them in Albuquerque. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is 4-0 against his former team, while the Cougars have not lost in Albuquerque since the 1997 season. The two teams first played each other in 1951 with New Mexico shutting out BYU, 34-0. The Lobos would win eight of the teams’ first 14 matchups. However, since 1965, the Cougars have won 38 of 44 contests against New Mexico, including 16 in a row from 1981-96. BYU defeated the Lobos in Provo last season by a score of 21-3, earning its sixth win of the year to become bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive year. New Mexico finished the 2008 season with an overall record of 4-8.

LAST TIME: BYU 21, NEW MEXICO 3 (OCT. 11, 2008)

PROVO -- The No. 8 BYU football team improved to 6-0 on the season and became bowl eligible for the fourth-consecutive year following a 21-3 victory over New Mexico (3-4, 1-2 MWC) at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

With the win the Cougars extended the nation’s longest victory streak to 16 games, while remaining undefeated in Mountain West Conference play at 2-0.

The BYU defense limited New Mexico to 285 total yards and kept the Lobos out of the end zone, while the Cougar offense produced 382 yards. Junior quarterback Max Hall was 22-for-34 with three touchdown passes for a total of 258 yards. Junior wide receiver Austin Collie was the beneficiary of nine of Hall’s passes leading the team with a career-high 155 yards.

After going the first three quarters without a sack, BYU’s defense finished with three sacks in the closing moments. Ian Dulan sacked New Mexico quarterback Tate Smith followed by back-to-back Coleby Clawson sacks to help BYU secure the final 21-3 scoring margin.

NEW MEXICO’S LAST OUTING

SALT LAKE -- No. 14 Utah exploded for 21 third-quarter points and broke out of a 17-7 halftime lead en route to a 45-14 Mountain West Conference win over the Lobos Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Utah ended with 251 yards rushing and 306 yards passing to total 557 total yards. Freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 18-of-28 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. The Utes had 28 first downs to 15 for UNM.

Quarterback Donovan Porterie went 15-of-32 for 186 yards and two interceptions, while B.R. Holbrook was 6-of-10 for 66 yards with one TD and no picks. Freshman Kasey Carrier had 54 yards on 11 carries, but UNM had only 82 yards on the ground. UNM added 252 yards passing for a 334 total. Lobo linebacker Carmen Messina, the NCAA’s leading tackler, had 19 tackles and senior linebacker Clint McPeek had 10 tackles plus a fumble recovery. Linebacker Tray Hardaway had nine tackles and senior Frankie Baca was UNM’s leading tackler in the backfield with eight wraps.

COUGAR-LOBO TIES

- BYU backup quarterback and tight end Brenden Gaskins is a native of Farmington, N.M. and attended Farmington HS.

- Cougar defensive back Brian Logan and Lobo offensive lineman Joshua Taufalele both transferred to their respective schools from Foothill College.

BYU’S LAST OUTING

LARAMIE -- Highlighted by an impressive performance from quarterback Max Hall, No. 25 BYU dominated Wyoming 52-0 in Laramie to improve to 7-2 on the year and 4-1 in the Mountain West Conference. Hall completed 20-of-22 passes for 312 yards and a season-high four touchdowns while rushing for an additional 30 yards in just over two quarters of action Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. His 90.9 percent completion percentage was just shy of the Steve Sarkisian’s school-record 91.2 percent against Fresno State in 1995.

After missing the last four games due to injury, wide receiver McKay Jacobson made his presence known in his return, totaling 100 yards receiving, including a 79-yard touchdown reception. All-American tight end Dennis Pitta also set a school record by making a catch in 39 consecutive games, moving past former standout wide receiver Glen Kozlowski on BYU’s all-time list.

Reserve quarterback Riley Nelson used his legs to gain 71 yards on 10 carries. Harvey Unga, who like Hall left the game in the third quarter, totaled a game-best 85 yards on 16 carries to give him an MWC-leading 783 yards on the season.

BYU’s defense created three turnovers with defensive backs Brian Logan and Craig Bills each making interceptions and fellow DB Brandon Bradley forcing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Shawn Doman. The Cougars also recorded three sacks with defensive linemen Jan Jorgensen (1.5), Matt Putnam (1.0) and Brett Denney (0.5) each finding the quarterback.

COMPETING AS A RANKED TEAM

With the Wyoming win the Cougars improved to 155-46 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 24 of its last 29 games dating back to 2006.

COIN TOSS

Wyoming won the coin toss last week and elected to defer to the second half, marking only the third time this season the Cougars have not won the toss. BYU is now 3-0 when losing the toss.

DON’T LOOK BACK

In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 39-4 when leading at halftime and 37-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

Mendenhall’s teams have won 26 straight games when leading by at least 14 points at the halftime break, 73 overall as a team. The last time BYU lost a game after leading by at least 14 points at the half was on Oct. 10, 1987 when is lost, 29-27, in its homecoming game against Wyoming.

TALE OF THE TAPE

BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 317 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against a New Mexico defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-3, 266 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars front three average 6-feet-3, 262 pounds, while the Lobo offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-5, 311 pounds per man.

HE WHO SCORES FIRST...

BYU was the first to score during the Wyoming game on a 44-yard reception by JJ Di Luigi with 10:17 remaining in the first quarter. BYU has been the first to score in five games this season, the others being Tulane, Colorado State, UNLV and San Diego. The Cougars are 5-0 in those five games.

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS

The Cougars lead the nation in third-down conversion percentage, converting a total of 69-of-116 attempts. In its seven wins this season, the offense converted 64-percent of its third-downs.

ZERO TURNOVERS

Ball security wasn’t an issue in last week’s win over Wyoming as BYU had zero turnovers. The Cougars have yet to turn the ball over to Wyoming since Bronco Mendenhall became their head coach five years ago.

WELCOME BACK MCKAY

Sophomore wide receiver McKay Jacobson was back in action against Wyoming after sitting out the previous four games due to a hamstring injury. Jacobson caught his first pass of the game with 12:50 remaining in the first quarter on the Cougars’ first drive of the game. His 13-yard reception was for the first-down. He also recorded a 79-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter to give the Cougars a 24-0 lead. The scoring drive consisted of one play for 79 yards in 12-seconds. Jacobson ended the afternoon with three receptions for 100 yards. He now has two 100-plus yard receiving games, his other being Florida State (111).

DOUBLE THREAT

With his 10-yard reception with 6:35 remaining in the third quarter against SDSU, junior running back Harvey Unga became one of only nine Cougars to record over 1,000 career yards through the air and on the ground. Unga currently has 1,024 yards receiving and 3,151 yards rushing.

Other Cougars who accomplished this feat are Curtis Brown, Jamal Willis, Lakei Heimuli, Luke Staley, Hema Heimuli, Todd Christensen, Scott Phillips and Fred Whittingham.

CONSECUTIVE CATCHES

All-American tight end Dennis Pitta caught his first pass of the Wyoming game with 11-seconds remaining in the first quarter for a 13-yard gain. The senior has caught a pass in 39 consecutive games dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 (at Air Force), prior to his mission. Those 39 games marks a new BYU program record previously held by Glen Kozlowski with 38.

SURPASSING HUDSON

With his 9-yard reception with 4:00 remaining in the second quarter of the SDSU game, Dennis Pitta became BYU’s all-time leading tight end, surpassing Gordan Hudson’s 2,484 career receiving yards during the 1981-83 seasons. As a Cougar, Pitta has racked up 2,640 receiving yards.

He also passed Hudson as BYU’s career receptions leader among tight ends earlier this season during the CSU game and now has 200 career catches. Those receptions keep him in third place in the BYU record books for receivers overall, behind Austin Collie (215) and Matt Bellini (204).

His 18 career touchdowns also place him second behind Hudson (22) in touchdown receptions by a tight end.

FIRST HALF PASSING YARDS

Max Hall’s 265 yards passing in the first two quarters of the Wyoming game were more than his game totals in three complete contests this season, including, Colorado State (241), Utah State (218) and TCU (162).

HALL CREEPS UP ON DETMER’S WIN RECORD

With the Cougars’ 52-0 win over Wyoming, senior quarterback Max Hall now has 28 career wins as the starting play-caller for BYU. As far as where that puts him on BYU’s all-time list, Hall trails only Ty Detmer, who racked up 29 wins during his career from 1988-91.

SCORING HALL PASSES

Quarterback Max Hall recorded a season-high four touchdown passes against Wyoming last week, giving him 21 on the year. Those 21 touchdown passes have been to nine different members of the BYU receiving corp. Hall has now thrown a touchdown pass in 32-of-35 career games.

10,000 YARDS PASSING

Hall’s 312 yards passing against Wyoming give him 10,348 career passing yards, third-most in BYU program history. The only other two BYU quarterbacks to have ever surpassed the 10,000-yard mark were John Beck (2003-06) with 11,021 and Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer (1988-91) with 15,031.

REWRITING MWC RECORD BOOK

After throwing four touchdown passes against Wyoming, Hall became the MWC leader in career touchdown passes, surpassing former Cougar John Beck who had 79. Another one of Beck’s league record was broken during the Wyoming game--his 17 career 300-yard passing games. Throwing for 312 yard versus the Cowboys, Hall achieved his 18th 300-yard passing game.

CONSECUTIVE STARTS

The Wyoming game marked senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s 48th straight career start. During that streak, Jorgensen has started every game of his collegiate career and set a new MWC all-time career sack record in 2008 with 22.5. Jorgensen’s first career start came against Arizona on Sept. 2, 2006.

FUMBLE RECOVERIES

Senior linebacker Shawn Doman recovered a Wyoming fumble in the third quarter, forced by defensive back Brandon Bradley. With the BYU offense back on the field, Max Hall led a four-play, 38-yard scoring drive, capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass to JJ DiLuigi to give the Cougars a 45-0 lead.

The Cougars have now recovered six fumbles in nine games.

PAPER OR PLASTIC?

Defensive lineman Jorgensen picked up his third sack of the season with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter against Wyoming, dropping Cowboy quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels for a 14-yard loss. He recorded a second later in that same quarter, while sophomore Matt Putnam got a sack of his own midway through the fourth quarter.

Collectively the Cougars have recorded 18 sacks in their first nine games this season.

COUGAR PICKS

Defensive back Brian Logan intercepted his third pass of the season with 5:32 remaining in the third quarter against Wyoming. True freshman Craig Bills picked off his second career interception with 2:36 to play in the game for a 24-yard return.

The Cougar defense has snagged 10 interceptions through nine games.

BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS

BYU’s 52-0 win over Wyoming marked its second consecutive shutout win against the Cowboys after a 44-0 victory in Provo last season. It also marks the Cougars’ first shutout win on the road since a 27-0 win at UNLV in 1999.

Dating back to Harvey Unga’s 2-yard touchdown run in BYU’s 35-10 win over Wyoming on Nov. 17, 2007, the Cougars have scored 103 unanswered points against the Cowboys. Over the past three meetings, BYU has outscored Wyoming 186-17. Including the last two shutouts, the Cougars defeated the Cowboys 35-10 in 2007 and 55-7 in Provo in 2006.

IT’S BEEN A WHILE

BYU has been unable to return a kickoff for a touchdown for 140 consecutive games. Mike Rigell was the last Cougar to accomplish the feat, turning in a 96-yard touchdown in a 31-9 victory at Hawaii on October 17, 1998.

The last time BYU returned a punt for a touchdown was back on Nov. 9, 2006 when freshman McKay Jacobson ran one back 77 yards. Thirty-eight games have passed since then.

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