(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
SAN DIEGO - Linebacker Kyle Van Noy scored two touchdowns on defense in the fourth quarter, one with the team trailing 6-3 and led the BYU football team to a 23-6 win over San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Thursday night at Qualcomm Stadium.
The win extended the Cougars’ bowl win streak to four to build on their current school record.
"My congratulations to San Diego State on a really, really good football team and a good year," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "And to our team, another bowl game which is eight in a row now, winning six of the eight. The expectation at BYU is that we play in postseason games every year and that we win. That can only happen with great young men, which I'm surrounded by and the credit goes to them."
BYU (8-5) forced four turnovers in the fourth quarter and outscored San Diego State (9-4) 20-0 to overcome a 6-3 deficit.
After the Aztecs intercepted James Lark on 3rd and goal, the No. 3 total defense turned the tables on the next play and ignited BYU as Van Noy sacked San Diego State’s Adam Dingwell to cause a fumble, falling on it for the first touchdown of the game to put the Cougars on top 10-6 with 12:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.
On the next possession, BYU’s defense continued to make plays with Jordan Johnson recovering another San Diego State fumble. The Cougars took advantage of the momentum as Williams marched into the end zone from 14 yards out for the only offensive touchdown. A missed PAT attempt moved BYU in front 16-6 with 12:15 left to play.
The Van Noy show continued with a pick-six to finalize the score, 23-6, late in the fourth quarter. Van Noy was named the defensive MVP after finishing the night with two touchdowns, , a forced fumble and fumble recovery, one interception, a blocked punt, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and eight total tackles.
Senior Brandon Ogletree led the Cougars in tackles with 10 and added two tackles for loss. All-American Riley Stephenson helped flip the field for BYU with four punts inside the 5-yard line.
Junior wide receiver Cody Hoffman grabbed 10 passes for 114 yards to earn offensive MVP. Senior quarterback James Lark finished the night completing 23 of 42 attempts for 244 yards and two interceptions.
Following the game, assistant head coach Lance Reynolds announced to the team he would be stepping aside from coaching at BYU after 31 years with the team. The team honored him with a standing ovation in the locker room.
In his last game for BYU, Ezekiel Ansah stopped the Aztecs on their opening drive with his first career interception after Spencer Hadley tipped the ball at the Cougars’ 31-yard line.
San Diego State struck first with a 27-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 8:31 on the clock in the first quarter. Five minutes into the second quarter, the Aztecs scored another field goal after the Cougar defense held San Diego State on first and goal. The 23-yard score moved the Aztecs in front 6-0.
Lark hit Devin Mahina over the middle for a 38-yard reception to help put BYU on the board. The drive ended with a 23-yard field goal from Justin Sorensen to enter halftime down 6-3.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Cougars exploded in the fourth quarter and went on to score three times in the fourth quarter to finish the season with a 23-6 win.
"I'm happy with our seniors," Mendenhall said. "They showed heart and epitomized what BYU football is all about. They try as hard as they can, every game, win lose or draw. I'm surrounded by great company here, each has a unique story, what they have done here and what they have accomplished while they have been at BYU."
BYU vs. SDSU postgame notes