The BYU defense held Wyoming to minus-28 rushing yards and minus-18 total yards in the first half (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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Game notes and quotes from BYU's 25-20 win vs. Wyoming on Saturday, Oct. 23, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.
Opening Drive Scores
BYU junior running back JJ Di Luigi’s 7-yard touchdown run on the Cougars’ opening drive was the third time BYU has scored on its first drive of the game. The Cougars also accomplished the feat against Air Force and San Diego State. All three scores have been touchdowns.
BYU also scored on Wyoming’s first drive of the game, earning a safety on a bad snap out of the back of the end zone.
After holding San Diego State and TCU to first-half rushing totals of minus-2 yards and 37 yards, respectively, BYU held Wyoming to minus-27 rushing in the first half. For the game, BYU had a season-high 12.0 tackles-for-loss, led by defensive end Vic So’oto with four and middle linebacker Brandon Ogletree with two. Both players recorded career-high tackles-for-loss efforts.
BYU equaled its season best with three sacks and set a new season high with six quarterback hurries against Wyoming. Senior defensive end Vic So'oto contributed one sack along with junior outside linebacker Jaden Wagner and sophomore defensive tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna. So'oto had a game-best two hurries while sophomore linebacker Brandon Ogletree, junior defensive end Matt Putnam, freshman defensive end Graham Rowley and sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Richardson also recorded quarterback hurries. The Cougars also recorded three sacks against Florida State this year while their previous high in hurries was four against Nevada.
Taking the Lead
The Cougars’ initial 16-0 lead to start the game was the largest lead BYU has had this season, passing a 14-0 lead against San Diego State. BYU’s 25 points was the highest output for the Cougars on the season.
Don’t Cross the Line
Wyoming did not cross its original line of scrimmage until the 4-minute mark of the first quarter on a 14-yard pass to David Leonard. Wyoming began the game with two plays for negative yardage and a bad snap out of the end zone. On the Pokes’ next drive, the BYU defense forced a 4-yard loss, a 2-yard run, and an incomplete pass.
Field Goal Streak Finally Ends
BYU senior kicker Mitch Payne failed to convert on a field goal under 30 yards for the first time in his career, getting blocked on a 28-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. Payne came into the game 23-of-23 for his career and 8-of-8 this season on field goal attempts of under 30 yards. Payne did convert a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter, his first of over 30 yards this year.
Freshman quarterback Jake Heaps’ 12-yard pass to senior wide receiver Luke Ashworth was the first touchdown pass for BYU since the third game of the season at Florida State.
Defense Holds the Fort
BYU held Wyoming to minus-22 yards of total offense in the first quarter, including minus-31 rushing yards and nine passing yards. At halftime, Wyoming still had minus-18 yards of total offense, minus-27 yards rushing and nine yard passing. In the second quarter, Wyoming did not complete a pass and gained four rushing yards. Out of the Pokes’ 17 plays in the first half, only five resulted in positive yardage while nine went for negative yards.
Until an interception return for a touchdown with 3:58 left in the second quarter, Wyoming had not scored against BYU since the 5:35 mark of the third quarter in a game played Nov. 16, 2007. The touchdown ended the shutout streak after 166 minutes and 37 second of game time dating back to almost three years. BYU had scored 119 straight points against Wyoming during that span. Wyoming scored its first offensive points since 2007 a few minutes later on a 44-yard field goal despite BYU’s defense holding the Cowboys to a 4-play, minus-7-yard drive.
BYU has a tradition of selecting a player before each game to run the team flag onto the field, as well as a former Cougar to carry out the alumni flag. Each member of the team has signed the team flag, while former BYU players have signed the alumni flag, reflecting their commitment to uphold the tradition, spirit and honor of the BYU football program and to be a flag bearer of the University.
Today, former BYU great Eric Drage (1990-93) carried out the alumni flag. Drage, a two-time first-team All-WAC wide receiver and Academic All-American selection, finished his career as BYU’s all-time leading receiver with 3,065 yards. He is still in the top 15 on the BYU record books in all-time receptions, all-purpose yards and career scoring. Senior wide receiver BJ Peterson brought out the team flag. Peterson, a former walk-on, was an Academic All-MWC honoree last season and has one catch for five years against Nevada this year.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall
“It was a great football game. Both teams were pretty similar coming in. In what the game showed was execution flaws on both sides to keep it close. We had a number of chances to pull away. I like this team’s resilience and they played well enough to win the game.”
“I am certainly happy and I think we learned a lot from the standpoint of there were two or three chances to pull away but ball security and penalties played a role. Without those two things, and you can’t take them out, but it’s probably a little more of a convincing victory.”
“I think that is just where we have proved we are. Until execution, position mastery, and volume of plays add up I think it will be like that. I anticipated it to end just like the San Diego State game and someone would have to be on the field to win the game at the end.”
“I asked them to continue to try as hard as they can to the end and that itself is progress.”
“I talked to the defense and told them to be anxious to play. My comments to the offense were they were playing well but ball security and penalties were holding us back from scoring more points.”
“I was glad to see signs of improvement. We relied heavily on the run game and completed some passes at critical times. There were still plenty of drops, but we are making progress. It is not that I’m saying we have arrived, but we have inched forward and that’s better than backward.”
“The goal for this team is to play better and longer than we are currently playing. The idea is to sustain playing at a high level from beginning to end and that comes from maturity and execution.”
“I’m having fun, they’re having fun, and that comes from having some success.”
(On wide reciever Luke Ashworth)
“It might have been the happiest I have ever been for a player on this team. That is a compliment to Luke [Ashworth] and he did a lot of great work in practice and earned right to be the go-to guy this week.”
(On defensive strategy on Wyoming's final drive)
“With only three guys (rushing the quarterback) it was hard to keep him in the pocket. We didn’t want to give up anything over the top. They executed exactly the way they were supposed to on that drive.”
(On heading into a bye week)
“I think it’s a great chance for the team now, as we have played enough games to see where work needs to be. We can use it to focus and get a little healthier and knowing there is still things to play for I think they are anxious to have a week to work before we play another game.”
Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen
“We really started executing in the fourth quarter. Guys started making plays and everyone played their tails off. Things weren’t going well for awhile, but we still had a chance to win. They just made better plays on the last drive.”
“The bottom line about this game is that we just did not make enough plays. We dug ourselves in an early hole with mistakes and could not overcome it. On that final drive Austin (Carta-Samuels) played like we know he can play but we just didn’t finish.”
“The end of the first half gave us a huge momentum swing going into the locker room. The interception was our biggest play of the game, and then we got the other turnover right after and took 10 points into the locker room. Unfortunately, we didn’t maintain coming into the second half.”
“I think the fourth quarter showed us that we can make plays and can be successful, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We haven’t quit in any games this season and we have a great attitude. Now we can stay positive and build on our fourth quarter play as we try to win next week against San Diego State.”