(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
COUGAR TOWN -- No. 25 BYU (8-2, 6-0) guaranteed itself at least a share of the Mountain West Conference title, and its senior quarterback guaranteed his place in BYU history, as the Cougars kept their MWC-undefeated season alive with a 55-7 win over Wyoming (5-5, 4-2). A win against either of BYU's final two opponents (New Mexico on Nov. 18 or Utah on Nov. 25) will give the team its first outright conference title since 2001.
John Beck surpassed former Cougar-great Jim McMahon in both career passing and career total offense Thursday night with a 20-26, 313-yard performance. The highly acclaimed quarterback threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more. Beck now has 9,805 career passing yards and 9,810 career yards of total offense, marking him as BYU's second most prolific in both categories.
Wyoming came into LaVell Edwards Stadium holding its opponents to an average of 140 passing yards per game this season. At halftime, Beck had already thrown for 269 yards.
"I was extremely proud of John Beck tonight and his accomplishment, becoming the second all-time leading passer," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "As he visited with the team in the locker room, he said it isn't about him and he's anxious for a championship. I couldn't ask him to handle it better or be a better leader than what he is."
Beck leap-frogged McMahon on the career passing list fairly early when he connected with sophomore Michael Reed for a 36-yard reception on a third-and-one in the first quarter. The toss gave Beck his 9,540th career passing yard, four more than McMahon's 9,536. Later, in the second quarter, Beck moved into second place all-time in total offense twice; once after a 22-yard completion to Nate Meikle and a second time after a 13-yard completion to Jonny Harline. Beck was sacked for a seven-yard loss between the two plays.
McKay Jacobson returned a punt 77 yards into the end zone with 7:44 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving BYU its first punt return for a touchdown since 1997 when Jaron Dabney did it against Hawaii. It also gave BYU a 55-0 lead, putting a stamp on a dominating night for the Cougars.
I'm proud of our football team," Mendenhall said. "They showed tremendous focus, consistency, concentration and execution tonight. It's a football team that is improving and wants to win. They want to establish that right from the start."
Mendenhall couldn't have asked for a better start on this night. Meikle returned the opening kickoff 88 yards before being tracked down by a Wyoming defender at the two-yard line. Three plays later, Brown punched it in for a one-yard touchdown run, and BYU took a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. Had Meikle scored on the play, it would have been the Cougars' first kickoff return for a touchdown in 101 games.
Beck's 36-yard completion to Reed on BYU's next possession set up a six-yard touchdown reception to Harline, giving the Cougars a 14-0 lead.
A strong defensive stand placed BYU on its own 32-yard line to begin its next drive. One 35-yard Beck-to-Harline connection and one 33-yard Beck-to-Reed touchdown reception later gave the Cougars a 21-0 advantage at the 4:35 mark in the first quarter. BYU has outscored its opponents 110-12 in the first quarter this season.
The Cougars continued to bully the Cowboys defense in the second quarter, taking a 28-0 lead behind a 15-play, 93-yard drive that was capped by another one-yard touchdown run by Brown on a fourth-and-goal. Brown finished with 92 rushing yards on 22 carries and two rushing touchdowns. The senior running back needs only 39 yards to pass Jamal Willis as BYU's all-time rushing yards leader.
With less than a minute to go in the first half, BYU put three more on the board when Jared McLaughlin chipped in a 33-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 31-0 cushion at halftime. The score put a lid on an 11-play, 58-yard drive.
BYU's defense stifled the Wyoming offense throughout the first half, holding the Cowboys scoreless and limiting them to just 69 yards of total offense. Wyoming punted five times out of its six first-half possessions. BYU junior Ben Criddle intercepted Wyoming's last offensive play of the half.
Quinn Gooch got the Cougars started in the second half with an interception of his own on Wyoming's 40-yard line during the Cowboys' first drive of the half. The junior ran it back 38 yards down the sideline before being forced out of bounds by Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween. Beck snuck in the one-yard touchdown run making it 38-0, BYU.
Beck marched his team 59 yards up the field on 11 plays on BYU's next possession, resulting in a 41-0 Cougar lead after an 18-yard field goal by McLaughlin. The big play of the drive came when Brown broke free for a 37-yard carry along the sideline.
At the 14:45 mark in the fourth quarter, the Cougars defense made a fourth-and-one stop on Wyoming's 49-yard line. The turnover sparked a 10-play, 51-yard drive. Beck punctuated the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the night, a one-yard jaunt into the end zone that put BYU up, 48-0.
A 71-yard touchdown run by Wyoming sophomore Devin Moore with six-and-a-half minutes to play gave the Cowboys their only score of the game. The Cowboys were held to 246 yards of total offense on the night.
"It's gratifying," Mendenhall said of clinching a share of the MWC crown. "There are still two games to go. No one on our team is satisfied yet. Our team is looking forward to playing our next opponent."
BYU hosts New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 18, at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. MDT, and fans can catch the action on The mtn.
Box Score (Final)
Wyoming vs #25 Brigham Young (Nov 09, 2006 at Provo, Utah)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Wyoming............. 0 0 0 7 - 7 Record: (5-6,4-3)
Brigham Young....... 21 10 10 14 - 55 Record: (8-2,6-0)
1st 13:03 BYU - BROWN 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 3-2 1:57
07:53 BYU - HARLINE 6 yd pass from BECK (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 7-61 1:51
04:35 BYU - REED 33 yd pass from BECK (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 2-68 3:15
2nd 06:58 BYU - BROWN 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 15-93 6:34
00:31 BYU - MCLAUGHLIN 33 yd field goal, 11-58 4:58
3rd 12:12 BYU - BECK 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 3-3 0:54
02:58 BYU - MCLAUGHLIN 18 yd field goal, 11-59 6:10
4th 09:30 BYU - BECK 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 10-51 5:15
07:44 BYU - JACOBSON 77 yd punt return (MCLAUGHLIN kick)
06:25 WY - MOORE 71 yd run (SCOTT kick), 2-80 1:14
FIRST DOWNS................... 10 18
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 23-144 43-141
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 102 313
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 28-14-2 26-20-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 51-246 69-454
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 0-0 4-108
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 9-171 1-84
Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 2-38
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 6-46.2 2-44.0
Fumbles-Lost.................. 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards............... 2-15 5-35
Possession Time............... 19:56 53:10
Third-Down Conversions........ 1 of 11 12 of 17
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 3 1 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 0-0 7-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-15 0-0
RUSHING: Wyoming-MOORE, Devin 5-94; SELDON, Wynel 8-25; WENDLING, John 1-16;
SWEEN, Karsten 6-12; HARRIS, Joseph 3-minus 3. Brigham Young-BROWN, Curtis
22-92; HAGUE, Mike 5-19; VAKAPUNA, Fui 4-17; TONGA, Manase 5-17; BECK, Jason
1-6; BECK, John 6-minus 10.
PASSING: Wyoming-SWEEN, Karsten 14-27-2-102; TEAM 0-1-0-0. Brigham Young-BECK,
RECEIVING: Wyoming-FORD, Michael 4-31; HOLDEN, Tyler 2-20; BETSCHART, Wade 2-19;
MOORE, Devin 2-12; SALYARDS, J. 1-9; LEVY, Derrick 1-6; SELDON, Wynel 1-5;
BOLLING, Greg 1-0. Brigham Young-HARLINE, Jonny 6-104; JACOBSON, McKay 3-26;
BROWN, Curtis 3-24; REED, Michael 2-69; MEIKLE, Nathan 2-30; COATS, Daniel 2-15;
MAHUIKA, Bryce 1-30; COLLIE, Zac 1-15.
INTERCEPTIONS: Wyoming-None. Brigham Young-GOOCH, Quinn 1-38; CRIDDLE, Ben 1-0.
FUMBLES: Wyoming-SWEEN, Karsten 1-0. Brigham Young-None.
Stadium: LaVell Edwards Stad. Attendance: 59901
Kickoff time: 6:06 End of Game: 8:56 Total elapsed time: 2:50
Officials: Referee: Scott Novak; Umpire: Bernard Rhodes; Linesman: Patrick Turner;
Line judge: Steve Hoslett; Back judge: Robert Wcetich; Field judge: Thomas Basset;
Side judge: Bill Agopian; Scorer: Media Relations;
Temperature: 38 Wind: 4 mph N Weather: Overcast
Wyoming vs #25 Brigham Young (Nov 09, 2006 at Provo, Utah)
SACKS (UA-A): Wyoming-ROBBINS, Aaron 2-0. Brigham Young-None.
TACKLES (UA-A): Wyoming-WENDLING, John 7-4; DOBBS, Ward 5-1; ROBBINS, Aaron 3-3;
ROGERS, Quincy 3-3; STINSON, Julius 4-1; GOLSTON, Dorsey 3-1; MACE, Corey 1-3;
CLAFFEY, Sean 1-3; MEDINA, Michael 3-0; HALL, Austin 3-0; CHASE, Luke 2-1;
UNREIN, Mitch 1-2; MAYES, Jake 1-2; JUERGENS, Mike 2-0; JOHNSON, Weston 1-1;
VINNEDGE, Billy 0-2; DUTMER, Danny 1-0; HAUGEN, Brandon 1-0; DIEHL, Adam 1-0;
LEWIS, Troy 1-0; SWEEN, Karsten 1-0; HOLLWAY, Rob 0-1; WHIPP, Zeb 0-1; GROOVER,
Mike 0-1. Brigham Young-JENSEN, Cameron 7-2; WAGNER, Aaron 3-4; GOOCH, Quinn
5-1; HOOKS, Terrance 3-1; CRIDDLE, Ben 3-1; SEMANOFF, Joe 3-0; TONGA, Matangi
2-0; HUTCHINSON, Nat 2-0; STACEY, Andrew 1-1; NIXON, David 1-1; HODGKISS, Corby
0-2; POPPINGA, Kelly 0-2; TIALAVEA, Russe 1-0; DOMAN, Shawn 1-0; BUCHANAN, Kayle
0-1; STAFFIERI, Mark 0-1; MIYAHIRA, Cole 0-1; ROBINSON, Justi 0-1; LOVELY, Gary
0-1; TAFUNA, David 0-1; KEHL, Bryan 0-1.