Game Notes: Second Half of MWC Play Kicks Off at Wyoming

Defensive back Scott Johnson recovered a fumble and returned it for a 64-yard touchdown in BYU's 44-0 win over Wyoming in 2008. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Coming off a bye week the No. 25 Cougars (6-2, 3-1 MWC) are eager to begin the second half of Mountain West Conference play as they travel to face Wyoming (4-4, 2-2 MWC) on Saturday at 12 p.m. MT.

In the last meeting between these two teams, BYU handed Wyoming a 44-0 loss, the Cougars’ second consecutive shutout win of the season. They also held UCLA scoreless the week before en route to a 59-0 victory.

The Cowboys are coming off a 22-10 loss to No. 19 Utah last week and are looking for their first win over BYU since Oct.18, 2003. That close 13-10 contest in Laramie, Wyo. was the last time Wyoming defeated the Cougars.

ON THE TUBE

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on The Mtn. James Bates will provide play-by-play coverage, with Todd Christensen lending analysis. Andrea Lloyd will report from the sidelines. Bates was an All-Southeastern Conference linebacker at the University of Florida and captain of the Gators’ 1996 national championship football team. Christensen was a standout at BYU before launching an NFL career, playing as a tight end with the Cowboys and the Raiders. Lloyd earned a gold medal with the women’s basketball team at the 1988 Olympics, and was a four-year starter and three-time first-team All-American at the University of Texas. The game will mark the fifth of seven BYU games available on The Mtn. during the 2009 season.

WHAT THE GAME MEANS

- With a win at War Memorial Stadium BYU will improve its 2009 away record to 5-0 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 28 career wins, only one game behind Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer who currently tops the BYU record list with 29 wins.

THE BYU-WYOMING SERIES

Saturday’s game will mark the 76th meeting between Wyoming and BYU. The Cougars lead the series 42-30-3, which dates back to the 1922 season. The two teams first met in 1922 when BYU handed Wyoming a 7-0 defeat. That first meeting also marked the first win for a young BYU program, a team that until that point in the 1922 season was 0-3. The Cougars have defeated the Cowboys in eight of the last nine meetings, losing only twice since the inception of the MWC.

LAST TIME: BYU 44, WYOMING 0 (SEPT. 20, 2008)

PROVO -- No. 11 BYU continued its quest for perfection with another shutout victory Saturday, defeating Wyoming 44-0 at LaVell Edwards Stadium to begin Mountain West Conference play.

With the win the Cougars extend the nation’s longest active winning streak to 14 games, and remain perfect on the season at 4-0. Saturday’s 44-0 victory and last week’s 59-0 win over UCLA are BYU’s first back-to-back shutouts since 1985 and mark only the second time since 1938 that the Cougars have held opponents scoreless in consecutive contests.

As a large factor in the team’s performance, the BYU defensive unit rolled over Wyoming. BYU forced six turnovers and only allowed the Cowboys to convert on 4-of-13 third-down attempts. The Cougars allowed the Cowboys into the red-zone only once during the game.

On the offensive end junior quarterback Max Hall passed for 189 yards and three touchdowns, going 16-for-27. Among Hall’s highlights was a 62-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Austin Collie in the second quarter. Collie finished the game with 122 yards over eight receptions.

WYOMING’S LAST OUTING

SALT LAKE -- Utah freshman Jordan Wynn passed for 82 yards and a touchdown in his college debut, replacing starter Terrance Cain in the second half and rallying the 19th-ranked Utes to a 22-10 win over Wyoming on Saturday. Eddie Wide tied a school record with his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game and added a late touchdown to seal the win for Utah (7-1, 4-0 MWC), which trailed 10-3 at halftime.

Wynn sparked the offense when he replaced starter Terrance Cain in the third quarter and Utah’s defense shut down the Cowboys (4-4, 2-2) in the second half, holding Wyoming to 74 yards in the final 30 minutes.

Austyn Carta-Samuels was 19 for 30 for 121 yards and caught a touchdown pass on a trick play as the Cowboys surprised the Utes early.

COUGAR-COWBOY TIES

- BYU defensive intern, and former Cougar linebacker, Kelly Poppinga is a native of Evanston, Wyo. and attended Evanston HS.

BYU’S LAST OUTING

PROVO -- Homecoming festivities and a visit from ESPN’s College GameDay weren’t enough to help pull off a win for No. 16 BYU as No. 8 TCU walked out of Provo with a 38-7 win at LaVell Edwards Stadium in front of 64,641 fans.

Cougar running back Harvey Unga was the highlight of the BYU offense, scoring BYU’s lone touchdown in the second quarter. Unga, the Mountain West Conference’s leading rusher, ran 21 times for 122 yards. The junior also recorded three receptions for 11 additional yards.

Senior quarterback Max Hall threw for 161 yards, completing 18-of-28 passes and recording one touchdown pass. Tight end Dennis Pitta caught four receptions for 62 yards, leading the Cougars in catches, having done so in 7-of-8 games this season.

On the defensive side, junior Andrew Rich totaled eight tackles in the first half alone before finishing with 11, a new career high. Shawn Doman and Matt Bauman also added seven tackles apiece.

COIN TOSS

BYU won the coin toss against TCU and elected to defer—for the sixth time this season. BYU is now 4-2 when winning the toss.

PULLING OUT THE CLOSE ONES

After a close 14-13 victory over the Sooners in their season opener, the Cougars have won nine consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer. Last season BYU pulled out nail-biters against Washington, UNLV and Colorado State.

DON’T LOOK BACK

In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 38-4 when leading at halftime and 36-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

Mendenhall’s teams have won 25 straight games when leading by at least 14 points at the halftime break, 72 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.

COMPETING AS A RANKED TEAM

With the loss to TCU the Cougars are 154-46 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 23 of its last 28 games dating back to 2006.

The Cougars’ No. 7 national ranking in the AP Top 25 Rankings after back-to-back wins over Oklahoma and Tulane was their highest since finishing the 1996 season at No. 5. BYU entered the top 10 in the coaches’ poll following Week 2 after earning a ranking as high as No. 7 last season.

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 Wyoming defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-3, 282 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars front three average 6-feet-3, 262 pounds, while the Cowboy offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-5, 282 pounds per man.

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 1,017 yards receiving and 3,066 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.

UNGA REACHES 3,000 YARDS

After running for 123 yards against No. 8 TCU, Unga now has 3,066 career rushing yards, making him only the second Cougar to do so. Curtis Brown leads BYU all-time with 3,221 yards on the ground (2002, 2004-06).

PUTTING UP POINTS

Junior Harvey Unga scored BYU’s first touchdown of the TCU game off a 3-yard reception from quarterback Max Hall to cut the TCU lead to 21-7. Unga has accounted for the Cougars’ first touchdown in five games this season.

CONSECUTIVE CATCHES

All-American tight end Dennis Pitta caught his first pass of the TCU game with 12:49 remaining in the second quarter for a 22-yard gain. The senior has caught a pass in 38 consecutive games dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 (at Air Force), prior to his mission.

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 2,605 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 197 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.

HALL CREEPS UP ON DETMER’S WIN RECORD

With the Cougars’ 38-28 win over SDSU, senior quarterback Max Hall now has 27 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 one touchdown pass against TCU, giving him 17 on the year. Those 17 touchdown passes have been to nine different members of the BYU receiving corp. Hall has now thrown a touchdown pass in 31-of-34 career games.

10,000 YARDS PASSING

Hall’s 241 yards passing against TCU gave him 10,036 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.

CONSECUTIVE STARTS

The TCU game marked senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s 47th 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. With two more sacks so far this season he is second in the conference all-time behind TCU’s Jerry Hughes. Jorgensen’s first career start came against Arizona on Sept. 2, 2006.

FUMBLE RECOVERIES

Junior defensive back Andrew Rich recovered a fumble with 55-seconds remaining in the second quarter of the USU game. With the BYU offense back on the field, Max Hall led a two-play, 29-yard scoring drive, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by senior Manase Tonga.

The Cougars have now recovered six fumbles in eight games.

PAPER OR PLASTIC?

Defensive lineman Brett Denney picked up his second sack of the season with less than 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter against TCU, dropping Horned Frog quarterback Andy Dalton for a 12-yard loss. Linebacker Coleby Clawson’s sack on the Frogs’ first drive of the second half set up third-and-15 and marked the senior’s fourth sack on the year.

Collectively the Cougars have recorded 15 sacks in eight games this season.

COUGAR PICKS

Senior defensive back Scott Johnson intercepted his third pass in two games with 6:04 remaining in the second quarter against SDSU. The interception set up a scoring drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Max Hall to give the Cougars a 21-14 lead heading into the halftime break. Johnson picked off two passes in BYU’s win over UNLV on Oct. 10.

The Cougar defense has snagged eight interceptions through eight games.

BAUMAN NAMED NFF SCHOLAR ATHLETE

Senior linebacker Matt Bauman was recognized by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) as they announced the 2009 National Scholar-Athlete class. The 16 members of the class will each receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship and vie as finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, formally known as the Draddy Trophy.

Student-athletes were selected as the best and the brightest from the college gridiron, from a nationwide pool of 154 semifinalists among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA.

A team captain and a two-year starter at linebacker, Bauman is BYU’s fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete and its first since 2000. Other Cougars who received the honor were Stephen Miller (1976), Steve Young (1983) and Jared Lee (2000).

IT’S BEEN A WHILE

BYU has been unable to return a kickoff for a touchdown for 139 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-seven games have passed since then.

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