PROVO, Utah – BYU football won its final home game of the season against Fresno State 52-10 on Senior Day to finish the season undefeated at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
BYU (8-3) outgained Fresno State (3-8, 2-5 Mountain West) 520 yards to 275. The Cougars were a perfect 5 for 5 on blue-zone attempts in the win and forced three turnovers leading to 21 points.
Tanner Mangum went 24 of 37 for 336 yards and one touchdown. Moroni Laulu-Pututau led the Cougars with 95 receiving yards and one touchdown. In rushing yards, Algernon Brown led the team with 97 yards and one touchdown. Francis Bernard had two touchdowns with 45 total yards.
For the defense, Bronson Kaufusi filled out the stat sheet. He had a team-high five total tackles, four tackles for loss, one pass breakup and three sacks. Kai Nacua had two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, his second pick-six of the season. Fred Warner also had an interception to go along with his four total tackles.
Offense started off sluggish for both teams in the first quarter with three and outs for both teams’ first series. The Cougars attempted a fake punt on fourth down, but the Bulldogs stopped it and put themselves in good field position. The BYU defense held Fresno State to a 28-yard field goal to take the early 3-0 lead with 5:11 remaining in the quarter.
In the Cougars’ next series, they answered back. Receptions by Mitchell Juergens, Colby Pearson and Bernard put BYU in position for Trevor Samson to kick a 40-yard field goal and tie it up with four minutes to go in the first quarter.
Mitch Mathews caught a 45-yard pass from Mangum in the first play of the second quarter to put the Cougars in the scoring position. With 13:25 on the clock, Bernard leaped over the defense into the end zone to score the first touchdown of the game and take the 10-3 lead.
For the second time this season, Nacua picked off the ball and returned it for a touchdown. The pick-six extended BYU’s lead to 16-3 with 7:21 until the break.
In Fresno State’s next series, Warner picked off the Bulldogs and returned it for 27 yards. With 6:11 left in the quarter, Mangum found Laulu-Pututau for the 18-yard touchdown, which was his first touchdown reception of his career. The Cougars successfully completed a two-point conversion with a pass to Terenn Houk in the corner of the end zone, pushing the lead to 24-3.
BYU scored two touchdowns in the third quarter while holding Fresno State scoreless. Two 14-yard gains by Brown and Nick Kurtz set up Bernard to rush in on the 1-yard line with 9:59 left in the third to score his second touchdown. Brown broke loose for 45-yards with 5:06 on the clock to score the other touchdown in the third quarter, making it 38-3.
A 54-yard reception by Laulu-Pututau at the end of the third quarter set up another Cougar touchdown to start the fourth. Former defensive lineman turned tight end Remington Peck took the ball on a reverse and threw the ball 15 yards to Houk for the touchdown on the trick play, extending the lead to 45-3 with 14:52 to play.
Another interception from Nacua set up Nate Carter to rush five yards for the touchdown, just over two minutes after the Cougars’ last scoring drive. The Bulldogs responded by scoring their first touchdown on the game on a 29-yard rush, making it 52-10 with 8:42 remaining in the game.
BYU hits the road for its final regular-season game against Utah State on Saturday at 1 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network. The game will also be broadcast on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM. Live stats will also be available.
BYU football hosts Fresno State for Senior Day
PROVO, Utah – BYU football will honor its seniors this weekend with a Senior Day matchup against Fresno State on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv from LaVell Edwards Stadium and simulcast on ESPN3. The ceremony honoring the seniors will take place prior to the game.
BYU (7-3) narrowly fell 20-16 to Missouri last Saturday. Fresno State (3-7, 2-5 Mountain West) routed Hawaii in a 42-14 road contest last weekend.
Fans can tune in for live coverage on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can be found on 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, Sirius XM 143, BYUcougars.com and the BYU Cougars app. IMG's radio coverage will begin at 11 a.m. MT.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage, with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 12 p.m. MT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game.
BYU (7-3) vs. Fresno State (3-7, 2-5)
Saturday, Nov. 21
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. MT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
LAST MEETING. As old Western Athletic Conference foes in the 1990s, BYU and Fresno State have met up nine times with the last meeting coming in 1998. The Cougars got down 17 to the Bulldogs at half but came back to make it a 3-point game in the fourth quarter. Fresno State added a touchdown and held off BYU 31-21 in Fresno. BYU trails in the series 4-5, splitting the contests in Provo 2-2.
SENIOR DAY. BYU will be playing its final regular-season home game of the 2015 with a chance to go undefeated at home for the fourth time in Bronco Mendenhall’s career (2006, 07, 08). The Cougars are 9-1 on home senior days under Mendenhall, the lone loss coming in his first year in a 41-34 loss to Utah.
MOUNTAIN WEST. The Cougars are facing an opponent from the Mountain West for the third time this season. BYU defeated Boise State and San Jose State earlier this year and will face Utah State to end the regular season. The Cougars are 280-154-13 against current Mountain West teams.
SCHRAMM FAMILIAR. Fresno State offensive coordinator is familiar with the Beehive state having spent seven seasons at Utah from 2005-11.
PLAYING FRESHMEN. BYU has played 29 freshmen this season (16 true, 13 redshirts), the third-most in the country. Only Rice (31) and TCU (30) have played more freshmen than the Cougars.
Regarding the game, that was a tough one. It hurt. I thought we had a great chance to win, and really believed that we would win the game all the way until the very end. My opinion really hasn't changed much from Saturday. We played hard and the team really wanted to win that game. One extra turnover and a couple critical penalties were basically the difference in the game.
I had a nice visit with Gary Pinkel before the game, and I'm happy for him and his decision and for hopefully what will play out for his life. I think he's a good person and a good coach.
I've met with the team this morning where we watched the film and had a team meeting. Now we're on to our next game: Fresno State coming here. I spent an extra amount of time watching the film from last game, so we just started barely started on Fresno. I'm anxious for us to play well at home and finish undefeated at home. I would really like our seniors to have that experience, and I'm anxious to improve this team.
Why is the running game struggling?
That's a good question. I'm not sure. I have a theory that we were short-handed against San Jose, and that might have had some influence. Then we got our players back fresh and Missouri is good up front, so that could be a factor. Our execution and our completing assignments and our play isn't as sharp as it was early and we need it to be. One of our main priorities as we finish the season is improving that.
General morale of the team?
They're mad and frustrated. Like me. We're all the same. That one got away that we thought we had a great chance to win, and by watching the film and dissecting it every possible way, there were plenty of opportunities for us to travel all that way and get the win. And we didn't and that's frustrating.
Improvements for the defense?
Overall, we put together a strong performance, other than a PI call in the end zone and the targeting play that led to a touchdown. We also had an assignment mistake on the slip-screen that went for about 50 yards. All three of those things were on the same drive. We had a great chance to hold them to a field goal when they got the ball on the 16 after a turnover, and we were close. Maybe one score too many is what a couple mistakes led to their goals. Third and short conversions also allowed them to play more plays.
Impressions of Fresno State:
We're familiar with their coaches from Utah and Air Force. It's certainly not an issue of scheme. They have good schemes and good strategies, which everyone does. It's college football. Consistency is usually the difference of the teams the that are winning a lot and not winning. So, our focus is on their consistency now.
Mood of the team after the loss:
We were bummed. In our team meeting, coach Mendenhall talked about how we can be bummed or we can hope for the best and that’s what we’re going to do. There’s nothing you can really do about that. It sucks, but we learn from our mistakes. That’s what we did this morning; we watched filmed and saw what we did wrong. We’re making plans to correct those mistakes and move on.
Emotions on Saturday:
It’ll be tough. I don’t know what I’m going to do after I graduate. I’m probably going to bum around the locker room the rest of my life. It’s going to be bittersweet. I wish I could play forever at this school. I love this place. I owe my life to this place. It changed my life. This place has helped me become a better man and go on a mission. If I had went anywhere else, I can almost guarantee I wouldn’t have went and I wouldn’t have met my wife, Emily. It’s going to be tough playing my last home game at LES. Hopefully I can play the best game of my life.
Focusing on his last home game:
Bronson and I were talking about that at the UConn game. We did a walk through the night before, and we were looking around thinking we only have five more games in this stadium. I just said, "You can't talk about that right now and I can't think about it." It just makes me nervous and upset. Every game I get ready and think this is one of my last games. During the game, it all goes away and it feels like you're just playing for your team, it's a regular game. You're not thinking about what's happening. You're thinking about the play going on and the next play and the next. Not next week or what bowl game we're going to. My mind is in the moment and right after the game, I think about how I only have a few more opportunities. I have to have perfect practices this week. I'm only focusing on Fresno State this week, nothing else. This will help to make my senior year a little more memorable. Of course on Saturday, I'll be thinking more about how this will be my last home game. During the game, I'll be rock-solid focused and worry about that stuff after.
Sum up the morale
It was tough. After a loss, it's always tough. It's always more quiet than usual. Guys aren't chit-chatting as much as before. On the positive side, it was a realization that it was an SEC team. They were SEC champions over the last two years. A great team. They've gone through a lot of struggles this year, but they're a great team. The way we played against them wasn't our best, but to still have it that close means we really believe we can play with anyone, so that's something we can look at towards the positive.
On last home game:
Crazy. I keep talking about it to some of the guys. It's going to be bittersweet. You want to focus on the game, focus on playing. Get in, get out and win. You want to check off that eighth win and get ready to go get two more and have that 10-3 season, but at the same time, you want to cherish every moment, because when you do, you seem to play better. You seem to play at the best of your ability. You're playing for more than just a win. You're playing for your guys–the other seniors you've been playing with for four years.
Greatest memory at LaVell Edwards Stadium:
Single moment? That's tough. I don't know. There's obviously great games, beating teams like Texas, winning big games. Playing with my brother was huge–making memories like that at home. My family never missed a home game. This year especially, the home crowd has just been really special to play for.
On his last home game:
It means a lot. Time just flies by and I’m trying to soak up every opportunity. I’m really excited to go out there and play in front of the home crowd at LaVell Edwards.
On his play against Missouri:
I was just trying to do whatever I could within my job to win the game. We came up short and had some crucial mistakes, but there’s room to improve. Going forward, we just want to get better and get ready for this next game.
Describing the senior class:
In this senior class, there’s a lot of great leadership. This senior class knows when to have fun and when to get your hands dirty and work. Having that balance is a huge part of us. It’s something we will be known for.
My first game, I remember coming out, and I didn’t think I was going to play at all. I remember they called me to go out there and I was like, “Woah, okay.” I remember going out there and just getting manhandled. That play helps remind me of where I have come from, and I love it because I got up and wanted to go again. From that point forward, I was hungry. That was at home too, so it was exciting. Being with all the players during the off season, I’ll always remember that because that’s where we put in the time for upcoming seasons and I’ve always loved that aspect of the game. All the wins and some losses are hard to take, but that sting you get from losing has always driven me to be better. A lot of good memories.
How he sets the tone for the next game as a team captain after a loss:
The faster everyone can get over the loss come Monday, we can turn things up and move forward. The way we move forward is by putting in the film time and doing everything our coaches tell us to do, practicing hard and taking care of little knick-knack injuries. Hanging in there and being able to do these things to help you get ready for the next game, I think that’s the main thing.