Sophomore Brady Poppinga registered two sacks and forced two fumbles against Nevada. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
RENO -- Despite being shutout in the second half of play, Nevada-Reno held on for its first-ever win over No. 24 BYU, defeating the Cougars, 31-28, today in Reno.
Nevada's Zack Threadgill threw for a career-high 410 yards and four touchdowns on 28-of-37 attempts, leading the Wolfpack to its first victory over a top-25 team in school history.
"You have to give Nevada credit," BYU head coach Gary Crowton said. "They are a veteran team and they made the plays today that counted. We just didn't play that well today. We've got to grow up and get better as individuals and as a team. We can't have penalties like we did today and expect to win."
The game was a contest of two halves, with Nevada dominating in the first half and BYU controlling the second, pitching a Wolfpack shutout over the final two quarters. The second-half shutout marked the first time BYU has held a team scoreless in a half since blanking the Wolfpack in last year's 52-7 victory in Provo.
During the game, the Cougars were penalized 13 times for 140 yards, marking the third straight games BYU has had 10 or more penalties.
Nevada came out ready to play and was first to strike, putting 10 points on the scoreboard in the first quarter, including a 40-yard field goal by Damon Fine and a 96-yard touchdown completion by Nate Burleson. Burleson ended the game with 213 yards receiving on 12 catches.
The BYU offense was able to put a drive together late in the first quarter, scoring just six seconds into the second quarter on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Bret Engemann to Rod Wilkerson -- his first touchdown reception of the season.
But Nevada came back and answered with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Threadgill to Dan Bythwood to extend the Wolfpack's lead to 17-7.
On Nevada's next possession, BYU defensive end Brady Poppinga recovered a fumble inside the Nevada 10 yard line, leading to a Reno Mahe four-yard touchdown run four plays later. The TD marked Mahe's first score of the season. Mahe's touchdown pulled BYU to within three at 17-14 with 6:59 remaining in the first half.
The Wolfpack was able to tack on two more touchdowns late in the second quarter, including a 18-yard fade to tight end Erick Streelman on a fourth down situation with just :48 remaining. Moments later, after Ronnie Hardiman picked off Engemann, Threadgill went to the endzone to find junior receiver Tim Fleming for the touchdown with no time remaining on the clock. The last-second touchdown gave the Wolfpack a commanding 31-14 lead at the half, marking the first time the Cougars had trailed by 17 points at the end of the first half since trailing Hawaii by 21 last season. At the end of the half, Threadgill had racked up 287 yards in the air.
On Nevada's first possesion of the second half, the Wolfpack continued to move the ball downfield against the Cougars before Threadgill was hit and fumbled the ball. Colby Bockwoldt recovered the ball on the Wolfpack 48-yard line.
With Engemann finishing the first half with 80 passing yards on 6-of-16 attempts, red-shirt freshman Lance Pendleton started the second half at the quarterback for BYU. Pendleton promptly led the Cougars on a six-play, 48-yard scoring drive, capped by a Marcus Whalen 30-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars back in the game. Whalen finished the game with 135 yards on 14 carries, marking his third straight 100-yard game.
"Bret Engemann has got to get better," Crowton said. "He was 6-for-16 in the first half. He is a better quarterback than that. He is a competitive guy. I want to see him playing like he did against Syracuse. Bret will be our starting quarterback next week. The only way to get better is to go out there and play. I kept Lance Pendleton in the game to give him the chance to get better, and he did."
The defense held Nevada on the next series and got the ball back with good field position. The BYU offense was able to move the ball down field 62 yards in five plays, concluding with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Pendleton to Gabe Reid to cut the Nevada lead to just 31-28.
Late in the game, Nevada moved the ball deep into BYU territory, looking to drive the proverbial nail in the BYU coffin. But, the Cougar defense stiffened, stopping Nevada on a fourth-and-one at the goal line to set up a final scoring attempt for the offense.
"I really felt like we were going to win the game at that point," Crowton said. "I thought we could get the ball into the position were Matt Payne could make a big field goal for us, but we ran out of time."
Taking over with just under 2:00 remaining, and looking at the endzone some 99 yards away, the Cougars managed to move the ball up to the Nevada 38-yard line. Looking to get one more play in before a game-tying field goal attempt, the Cougars were unable to stop the clock as Nevada and its fans stormed the field to celebrate its first-ever victory over the Cougars -- perhaps the school's biggest football victory.
"We are a young team, and it shows sometimes," Crowton said. "We need guys to step up on offense and on defense. I don't want to point my finger at reasons why we lost. We just have to step up and make plays consistently. Anything can happen in football. That is why we play the game. Anyone can win. We have to play to win and go out there thinking that we have to play to win. We had some chances to win this game, but we made some mistakes, and those mistakes cost us the game."
The Cougars returned to Provo immediately following the game, and will begin working the game plan for Georgia Tech. The Cougars will travel to Atlanta next weekend, taking on The Ramblin' Wreck at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech also lost today, falling to Clemson, 24-19. Both teams will enter next Saturday's game with a 2-1 record. Game time is slated for 3:30 p.m. (EDT).
MARCUS WHALEN NOTES
Running back Marcus Whalen had a career-high 71-yard run in the second quarter that set up BYU's first touchdown of the game. The play could have gone for a 92-yard touchdown, but the Cougars were called for a illegal block that brought the ball back to the Wolfpack 21-yard line. Whalen ended the game with 135 yards on 14 carries, marking his third straight 100-yard performance of the season. The 6-foo-1, 205-pound back is averaging 138.6 yards per game.
Sophomore defensive end Brady Poppinga recorded two sacks in the first quarter against Nevada. He also caused a fumble that was recovered by BYU. The fumble recovery led to BYU's second touchdown. The last time a BYU player had two sacks in a quarter was Setema Gali in 1999 against New Mexico.
BYU receiver Kish Beverley caught his first pass as a Cougar this afternoon, posting a five-yard reception (Beverley had a touchdown reception against Dixie State College in JV action.) Beverley was a sprinter at Ricks (JC) and at BYU before joining the football team this year for his final year of eligibility. Another Cougar receiver, Reno Mahe, recorded his first touchdown of the season. He scored on a four-yard reverse to put the Cougars to within three points of the Nevada lead, 17-14.
ALL THOSE FLAGS
Penalties plagued BYU all afternoon. The Cougars were penalized 13 times for a season-high 140 yards. Saturday's game marks the third straight game BYU has been flagged 10 or more times. The Cougars are averaging 12.3 penalties per game, including an average 108.3 yards penalty yards per contest.
BYU trailed Nevada 31-14 at halftime, marking the largest halftime deficit since trailing Hawaii by 21 points last season. The Cougars have trailed at the half in two of the three games this season.
In last year's game against Nevada, BYU led 38-0 and had 432 yards at halftime. The BYU defense held the Wolfpack to just 119 total yards in last season's 52-7 BYU victory. On Saturday, Nevada led by 17 points and had 380 total yards in the first half. The Wolfpack held BYU to 172 total yards in the first half. Wolfpack quarterback Zack Threadgill threw for 287 yards. BYU had the ball for 9:46, while Nevada ran off 20:15.
BYU safety Aaron Francisco intercepted a pass in the third quarter for his first of the year. The interception is the third of his career. Overall, the BYU defense has seven interceptions on
the season and leads the battle of the turnovers by a 10-4 margin over its opponents.
BYU punter Matt Payne entered today's game ranked ninth in the country with a 44.9 yards per punt average. Payne punted the ball a season-high seven times for 402 yards against the Wolfpack, averaging 57.4 yards per kick. Payne was credited with a career-long 72 yard punt that pinned the Pack on their own two-yard line. John Denney, the Cougars deep snapper, returned to action after the Cougars first two games of the season with a herniated disk in his neck. With his performance on Saturday, Payne is now averaging 50.1 yards per punt on the season.
The victory over the Cougars was the first ever for the Wolfpack. The victory was also the first win over a ranked opponent for Nevada. For BYU, it was its third straight loss away from home. The Cougars are now 1-7 all-time against the Wolfpack.
With Rod Wilkerson's 31-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, the Cougars extended their NCAA record streak to 341 games without being shutout.
Box Score (FINAL)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Brigham Young....... 0 14 14 0 - 28 Record: (2-1)
NEVADA.............. 10 21 0 0 - 31 Record: (1-1)
1st 03:31 NEVADA - Fine, Damon 41 yd field goal,
BYU 0 - NEVADA 3
01:30 NEVADA - Burleson, Nate 95 yd pass from Threadgill, Zac
(Fine, Damon kick), BYU 0 - NEVADA 10
2nd 14:54 BYU - WILKERSON, Rod 31 yd pass from ENGEMANN, Bret
(PAYNE, Matt kick), BYU 7 - NEVADA 10
11:02 NEVADA - Bythwood, Dan 16 yd pass from Threadgill, Zac
(Fine, Damon kick), BYU 7 - NEVADA 17
06:59 BYU - MAHE, Reno 4 yd run
(PAYNE, Matt kick), BYU 14 - NEVADA 17
00:48 NEVADA - Streelman, Eric 13 yd pass from Threadgill, Zac
(Fine, Damon kick), BYU 14 - NEVADA 24
00:01 NEVADA - Fleming, Tim 9 yd pass from Threadgill, Zac
(Fine, Damon kick), BYU 14 - NEVADA 31
3rd 10:21 BYU - WHALEN, Marcus 30 yd run
(PAYNE, Matt kick), BYU 21 - NEVADA 31
04:09 BYU - REID, Gabriel 9 yd pass from PENDLETON, Lance
(PAYNE, Matt kick), BYU 28 - NEVADA 31
FIRST DOWNS................... 15 25
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 30-164 38-119
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 192 410
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 36-19-1 37-28-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 66-356 75-529
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-0 3-25
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 3--54 1-23
Interception Returns-Yards.... 1-0 1-15
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 7-57.4 4-43.8
Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-0 3-2
Penalties-Yards............... 13-140 9-82
Possession Time............... 21:28 38:32
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 4-21 1-3
RUSHING: Brigham Young-WHALEN, Marcus 14-135; PENDLETON, Lanc 11-21; MAHE,
Reno 2-11; BROWN, Curtis 2-0; ENGEMANN, Bret 1-minus 3. NEVADA-Milton, Matt
21-94; Mitchell, B.J. 7-19; Burleson, Nate 3-19; Kretschmer, Cha 1-8;
Threadgill, Zac 6-minus 21.
PASSING: Brigham Young-PENDLETON, Lanc 13-20-0-112; ENGEMANN, Bret
6-16-1-80. NEVADA-Threadgill, Zac 28-37-1-410.
RECEIVING: Brigham Young-WILKERSON, Rod 6-87; MAHE, Reno 4-41; REID, Gabriel
2-19; ORD, Andrew 2-18; WHALEN, Marcus 2-4; NEAD, Spencer 1-12; CHRISTENSEN,
To 1-6; BEVERLEY, Kish 1-5. NEVADA-Burleson, Nate 12-213; Fleming, Tim 5-61;
Streelman, Eric 4-47; Carter, Aaron 3-26; Bythwood, Dan 2-34; Milton, Matt
1-16; Mann, Maurice 1-11.
INTERCEPTIONS: Brigham Young-FRANCISCO, Aaro 1-0. NEVADA-Hardiman, Ronni
FUMBLES: Brigham Young-PENDLETON, Lanc 2-0. NEVADA-Milton, Matt 2-1;
Threadgill, Zac 1-1.
TACKLES (UA-A): Brigham Young-WALKENHORST, Pa 10-0; BOCKWOLDT, Colb 6-0;
FRANCISCO, Aaro 5-1; WRIGHT, Bill 5-0; POPPINGA, Brady 5-0; MADARIETA, Levi
4-0; MARQUARDT, Dani 3-0; MADSEN, Michael 3-0; BARNEY, Chad 3-0; NIELSEN,
Kip 2-1; YOUNG, Scott 2-0; PILI, Ifo 2-0; HEANEY, Brandon 2-0; NUA, Shaun
1-0; GILFORD, Jernar 1-0; BEVERLEY, Kish 1-0; AIONO, Aisaac 1-0;
CHRISTENSEN, To 1-0; DEANS, Logan 1-0; ORD, Andrew 1-0; 72 1-0; BURBIDGE,
Jon 0-1; ANDERSON, Nick 0-1. NEVADA-Towns, Daryl 5-0; Handy, Chris 4-1;
Agwuenu, Ekene 4-0; Kennard, Derek 4-0; Carter, Logan 4-0; Kauo, Keone 3-1;
LaGrone, Carl 3-1; Morscheck, J.D. 3-0; Dean, Aaron 2-0; Cruz, Domonic 2-0;
Tagatauli, Shau 2-0; Hardiman, Ronni 1-1; Lewis, Leondre 0-2; Cordova, Jorge
1-0; Barry, Chris 1-0; Curtis, Keenan 1-0; Jolley, Paul 1-0; Burleson, Nate
1-0; Jones, Ali 1-0.
Stadium: Mackay Attendance: 23109
Kickoff time: 1:07 End of Game: 4:31 Total elapsed time: 3:24
Officials: Referee: G. Semko; Umpire: K. Matthews; Linesman: J. Laborde;
Line judge: R. Baker; Back judge: B. Wucetich; Field judge: D. Rhone-Dunn;
Side judge: D. Romeo; Scorer: Jo Dunlap;
Temperature: 85 Wind: light Weather: sun with high clouds
SACKS (UA-A): Brigham Young-NUA, Shaun 1-0; NIELSEN, Kip 1-0.
NEVADA-Kennard, Derek 1-0.