(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
ATLANTA - True freshman Jamaal Williams led BYU with four touchdowns in its 41-17 win over Georgia Tech Saturday at Boddy Dodd Stadium.
After an early 7-7 tie, BYU (5-4) running back Williams scored in the opening seconds of the second quarter and the Cougars never looked back in the Yellow Jackets’ (3-5) homecoming game.
Williams shined for BYU, rallying for 107 rushing yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns. Williams also hurt the Yellow Jackets through the air with three receptions for 54 yards and one touchdown.
BYU's defense was the other half of the story, completely shutting down the Ramblin' Wreck offense. The Cougar defense held Georgia Tech to season lows in total yards (157), rushing yards (117), passing yards (40) and total points (17). BYU's defense did not allow Georgia Tech to convert a third down, holding them 0 for 10 for the game. Fourteen of the Yellow Jackets' points came in the form of a pick-six and a special teams touchdown, resulting in BYU's fifth game of the season where the defense does not allow a touchdown.
Senior quarterback Riley Nelson finished the game completing 19 of 28 passes for 204 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Nelson picked up 17 yards on the ground and his first rushing touchdown of the season.
Junior wideout Cody Hoffman continued to be Nelson’s primary target with seven receptions for 69 yards. Junior JD Falslev made waves in his first game as the primary kick returner with gains of 42, 43 and 44 yards. Falslev totalled 182 all-purpose yards, a career high.
Senior Ezekiel Ansah led the defense with eight tackles and one sack. Junior Daniel Sorensen recorded an interception and returned it for 26 yards and had seven tackles. Kyle Van Noy blocked a punt and recorded a tackle for loss.
BYU’s offense got moving early with a 44-yard kickoff return by Falslev to the BYU 45. Nelson connected on five of six passes on the scoring drive, including completions of 9 yards and 15 yards to Hoffman to help move the Cougars to Georgia Tech’s 6-yard line. Facing 4th and 1, Williams ran in for the touchdown for a 7-0 BYU lead with 9:36 left in the first quarter.
Despite back-to-back three-and-outs for the Georgia Tech offense, its defense picked off Nelson for a 23-yard touchdown to tie the contest, 7-7, with 6:06 on the clock.
Ross Apo hauled in a 43-yard toss from Nelson to set up a four-play scoring drive. On first and goal at the one, Williams pushed his way up the middle for his second rushing touchdown of the game to move BYU back in the lead, 14-7, just four seconds into the second quarter.
A blocked punt by Van Noy set up a short field for BYU where Nelson weaved his way through traffic for a 10-yard score, his first rushing touchdown of the year, to extend the Cougar lead to 21-7 with 4:46 remaining in the second quarter.
Georgia Tech answered on the next play with a 97-yard kickoff return to move the score to 21-14.
Falslev continued to make plays for BYU with a 42-yard kickoff return to set the Cougars up with a 26-yard field goal to tack on three points to enter halftime ahead 24-14.
Wish Ansah putting pressure on Georgia Tech, Sorensen grabbed his second interception of the season to set the offense up on Georgia Tech’s 2-yard line. Williams marched in for another touchdown to pad BYU’s lead, 31-14, with 3:43 left to play in the third quarter.
Aided by three BYU penalties, the Yellow Jackets scored off a 20-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter, 31-17.
Falslev sparked another touchdown drive with a 43-yard kickoff return. Three plays later, Williams caught a shuttle pass and took off down the sideline to score a 39-yard touchdown, his fourth of the game, to push the score to 37-17 with 14:50 on the clock. Hoffman had a critical block downfield to allow the score.
Sorensen added another field goal from 26 yards out for the final score, 41-17, with 6:59 remaining.
BYU welcomes a bye-week before hosting Idaho in its last home game of the season Nov. 10 at 8:15 MDT.