PROVO, Utah – Senior quarterback Christian Stewart accounted for six touchdowns and junior Nate Carter rushed for a career-high as BYU beat Savannah State 64-0 on Senior Day Saturday at Lavell Edwards Stadium.
"I think our team did a nice job just during the game staying together and staying focused," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I think our team showed maturity and pulled for each other. I was really encouraged by the sideline. Those who don't get to play that much had an opportunity. They were genuinely happy for each other, and that's really good to see as a coach.”
Stewart completed 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for two more touchdowns. Junior receiver Mitch Mathews caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns for his third career multi-touchdown game at BYU. Stewart also connected with receivers Jordan Leslie and Terenn Houk for touchdowns.
Carter anchored BYU's ground game with 20 carries for a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore AJ Moore added 62 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The Cougars (7-4) scored promptly after receiving the opening kickoff, using a four-play, 85-yard drive for a touchdown. Receiving the snap from the BYU 29, Stewart dropped back, rolled right and found Mathews slanting deep over the middle. Mathews escaped the grasp of a Savannah State (0-12) defensive back and sprinted to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown.
BYU's defense forced a punt on the Tigers' first possession. Eight plays and 80 yards later, Stewart faked a handoff and ran left for a 16-yard score.
After forcing another punt, the Cougars struck again, with Stewart hooking up Mathews with another touchdown reception—this time from 16 yards out. Mathews' grab in the corner of the end zone gave BYU a 21-0 lead with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
Savannah State failed on a fake punt on its first possession of the second quarter, giving the Cougar offense a short field. Stewart found Houk in the middle of the endzone for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
On the ensuing Tiger possession, BYU senior linebacker Alani Fua intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards to the Savannah State six. Stewart ran for a 6-yard touchdown on the offense's first possession, increasing BYU's lead to 35-0.
The Cougars repeated their previous feat with another one-play touchdown two minutes later, when the Tigers muffed a punt attempt, and BYU sophomore safety Kai Nacua dove on the football at the Savannah State one. Stewart faked a handoff, rolled left and found senior receiver Jordan Leslie for the score. The ensuing extra point put the Cougars up 42-0, with Stewart accounting for all six touchdowns.
Seeing their first career snaps, freshmen McCoy Hill and Hunter Moore took over the reigns at quarterback with just over eight minutes left in the first half. They combined for a 10-play, 59-yard touchdown drive, with junior running back Nate Carter punching in a run from two yards out.
With 2:19 left in the half, BYU sophomore receiver David Kessler blocked a Savannah State punt. With the ball rolling back into the Tiger endzone and Kessler bearing down on it, Savannah State punter John Barron booted it out the back of the endzone for a safety, giving the Cougars a 51-0 lead, which they held at the half.
BYU kicker Trevor Samson made a 31-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter to give BYU a 54-0 lead. Two minutes later, Samson hit a 32-yard field goal to further increase the Cougars' lead.
Moore scored BYU's final touchdown, a 6-yard score on the ground with just over two minutes left in the game, giving BYU the 64-0 victory.
The Cougars' final game of the regular season is next Saturday against California in Berkeley.
BYU to play Savannah State on Senior Day
PROVO, Utah – BYU football will take to the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the last time in 2014 Saturday at 1 p.m. MST against Savannah State. The team will honor its 26 seniors prior to the game.
Kickoff is slated for 1:05 p.m. MST. BYUtv will broadcast the game live. Prior to kickoff, BYUtv starts coverage with its Countdown to Kickoff at noon and will conclude with a one-hour postgame show.
The IMG Cougar Sports Network will also provide a live broadcast, available on byucougars.com, KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM and the BYU Cougars app.
Savannah State (0-11, 0-8 MEAC) at BYU (6-4)
Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at 1:05 p.m. MST
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Last meeting. Saturday’s game is the first between BYU and Savannah State
BYU vs. MEAC. This is BYU’s first meeting with an MEAC team in football.
10 seasons. Bronco Mendenhall is now in his 10th season as head coach of the Cougars. Mendenhall has an 87-38 record, and BYU ranks 12th in total wins nationally during his tenure.
Beating the best. Since 2003, BYU has 17 wins against Power 5 schools, which ranks second among non-Power 5 schools behind fellow independent Navy. BYU has the longest season streak, with nine straight seasons with a Power 5 win.
Ray Guy Award semifinalist. BYU punter Scott Arellano recorded the longest punt in BYU history and in the NCAA this season with an 81-yarder vs. Middle Tennessee. He broke former NFL punter Lee Johnson’s BYU record set in 1983 vs. Wyoming. Arellano also has the third longest punt (76 yards) in the NCAA this season.
11 weeks in the spotlight. BYU’s game Saturday will be its 11th straight on a network availble nationally. BYU has been on ESPN six times, ESPN2 once, ESPNU once, Fox Sports 1 once and CBS Sports Network once. Saturday’s game will be the Cougars’ only live game on BYUtv this season.
Senior Day. Saturday’s game is BYU’s Senior Day. Senior players will be honored prior to the game.
10 Bowls. BYU has accepted an invitation to the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 22. This is the 10th straight bowl game for Bronco Mendenhall and the Cougars, who have a 6-3 bowl record.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall
I was impressed with the way we managed the game and also the way we threw the ball. I thought we attacked downfield at a higher level than we have, which I was encouraged to see. And I think our defense played more consistently so overall an improved performance and looking forward to now senior day for our 26 guys that will graduate.
On Bronson Kaufusi:
So we have a different personnel group that basically puts Bronson at defensive end. There’s still some possibilities for him to stand up or be down, but about three weeks ago it became clear where he might fit within this particular defense and this personnel and his production–it just keeps climbing and climbing–that was probably his strongest game of the season.
On this point of the season:
It starts becoming more of I’m not going to say reminiscent, but looking for more opportunities to communicate and share experiences. I think there’s a little more of an effort on both parts to provide everything so that we can have a great finish.
Characterize this group of seniors:
I think they’ve been resilient. I think they’ve been hard-working and I think they’ve accomplished a lot and I really like their leadership through a lot of unique challenges this year. That’s probably how I’ll think about them most is their consistency and resiliency through a lot of unique challenges.
On Harvey Jackson:
Optimism and gratitude. He’s thankful for the way he’s coached here. He’s thankful for the opportunity the program’s given him. He’s thankful for the environment. He wishes he had more time here. So it’s really nice to coach someone that’s thankful and expresses gratitude.
On when Savannah State coming:
It’s a difficult time for the game and they’re struggling. It’s a long ways for Savannah State to come play football. The way scheduling works now and for the ability for people to set games and then not keep games and then it’s a really unique circumstance–being independent adds kind of a perfect storm to this particular one.
What’s been great about both those young men is that they fit here, meaning they’re both academically strong, they have strong character and they’re good football players. And they’ve required zero maintenance or special attention. They’ve come in and just been grateful to be part of the team, grateful for the rules, grateful for the wins and just happy to be part of the team, which is very refreshing. And I think their life experiences and maturity have helped that.
Summing up this year:
It’s sad that we have two more games left. It’ll be the last home game. I know I haven’t been here four years, but it’s still kind of–a little sad. I’m not going to be able to play with these fans anymore…I’ve enjoyed every minute with this team, the brothers on this team and the family that I’ve made will be family for life.
Is Savannah State a lesser opponent?
Not at all because we didn’t come out and play like we wanted to against UNLV. We want to come out and show how dominant our offense can be, how dominant our defense can be and as a team–as a whole. We kind of want to come out strong and treat it just like any other game. We don’t look at the record, we just look at the next opponent and see what they do.
On Christian Stewart’s progression:
I’ve been impressed with him. Coming in, every quarterback has got to be nervous coming in and seeing Taysom Hill go down, I mean that’s BYU’s quarterback Taysom Hill. Every game has gotten better and that’s what you expect from a quarterback. I’ve seen him grow as a leader and on the field. I’m very proud of him. He’s done a great job.
On defensive performance:
I thought that we came together as a defensive unit and we did good. We could have done better as far as the points that we gave up at the end of the first half. Other than that, I thought we played pretty good.
On Bronson Kaufusi:
It’s good. It adds a lot of variety as far as our schemes in pass rushing. So far he’s our best pass rusher right now as far as coming off the edges. It’s been helpful for us.
On senior day:
It’s definitely a fun time, but also, I guess you could say bittersweet. It’s been so much fun looking up to the older guys, helping them out with their last season here at BYU so it’s going to be fun, but sad at the same time when it ends.