LaVell Edwards Stadium
1700 North Canyon Road Provo UT 84604
Lobos End 30-Year Losing Streak in Provo
PROVO -- New Mexico kept its bowl hopes alive with a 20-16 victory over BYU on Saturday, marking the first Lobo victory in Provo since 1971.
Credited with 13 of the Cougars' 16 points, the BYU defense had another strong outing. Jon Burbidge picked off his second pass of the year, returning it 80 yards for a touchdown. Burbidges interception marked the longest interception return for a touchdown since Brian Mitchell returned a 97-yarder against New Mexico in 1989. The defense also produced one sack, eight hurries, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, a touchdown, denied the Lobos a two-point conversion, and forced New Mexico to go three-and-out seven different times.
On the other end of the ball, the Cougar offense struggled to get things going all night.
The Cougars managed just 188 yards, including 94 yards rushing and 94 yards passing. BYU quarterback Matt Berry was an uncharacteristic 9-of-26 passing for 81 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
Running back Marcus Whalen entered the game needing only 149 yards to pass the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. He recorded 60 yards on the night on 17 carries, leaving him 79 yards short heading into next week's regular-season finale against Utah.
The game started off in the Cougars favor, but a few momentum changes decided the game for the Cougars.
For the second time in three games, the Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but this time it was the defense that provided much of the BYU momentum.
With 7:12 left in the first quarter, Burbidge picked off New Mexico's quarterback Casey Kelly and returned the ball 80 yards to put BYU up 7-0.
After trading possessions the Cougar defense got the ball back for the Cougars when safety Chad Barney forced the Lobo's running back Dontrell More to fumble the ball on the Lobos' 24-yard line where linebacker Mike Tanner recovered the football.
The Cougar offense capitalized on the turnover with a 32-yard Matt Payne field goal with 00:15 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to the Lobos as they outscored the Cougars 14-3 and to take the lead going into half time 14-13.
On the Cougars' third play of the second quarter, New Mexico safety Brand Ratcliff stepped in front of a Berry pass and returned it 50 yards before being drug down on the Cougar two-yard line by wide receiver Rod Wilkerson.
Ratciff's interception set up the Lobos' first score of the game, a one-yard run by Dontrell Moore to bring the Lobos within three after the extra point.
With the clock winding down in the first half and the Cougars facing fourth and three, Payne faked a punt and took it 28 yards for the first down.
Payne's run would set up the Cougars' lone score of the quarter, a career long field goal from 52 yards out that brought BYU within one at 14-13 to end the half.
At the end of the half, Berry took a shot to the head and stomach that led to nausea during half time. Quarterback Todd Mortensen led the Cougar's first two offensive possessions when the team returned to the field.
With 8:20 left in the third quarter, Cougar safety Chad Barney intercepted the ball on the Lobos' 24-yard line, and put the Cougars in scoring position.
Berry returned to the game after the turnover, but the Cougar offense had to settle for another Payne field goal.
Payne connected from 37 yards out on his third consecutive field goal of the night to give the Cougars back the lead at 16-14.
After being held scoreless in the third quarter, the Lobos fired back in the fourth scoring on a two-yard run by Moore that put New Mexico up 20-16.
The Lobos decided to go for the two-point conversion and the Cougar defense managed to stop the attempt, but a personal foul on BYU would give the Lobos another shot to come up with two.
On the second attempt the Cougar defense once again held their ground, denying Moore the end zone and held he Lobos to a four-point lead with 7:59 remaining in the game.
With 2:26 remaining the Cougars had one more chance to score.
On first down, Berry completed a 22-yard pass to wide receiver Justin Anderson. The catch gave the Cougars a first down on their own 34-yard line.
But two incomplete passes, a rush for a loss of three, and Berry's second interception on the night, sealed the win for the Lobos.
The 5-6 Cougars will be looking to save their bowl chances next weekend at Utah, and dodge their first losing season since Lavell Edwards' second season in 1973. The Cougars head into next week's regular-season showdown at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City with a 5-6 record, while the Utes are 4-6.
Kick-off for the game is scheduled at 1:00 p.m. (MDT).
Box Score (Final)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
New Mexico.......... 0 14 0 6 - 20 Record: (6-5,4-1)
Brigham Young....... 10 3 3 0 - 16 Record: (5-6,2-4)
1st 07:05 BYU - BURBIDGE, Jon 80 yd interception return (PAYNE, Matt kick)
UNM 0 - BYU 7
00:15 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 32 yd field goal, 7-10 2:39, UNM 0 - BYU 10
2nd 12:00 UNM - Moore, Dontrell 1 yd run (Byrd, Kenny kick), 2-2 0:42,
UNM 7 - BYU 10
02:52 UNM - Counter, Dwight 7 yd pass from Kelly, Casey
(Byrd, Kenny kick), 17-82 8:02, UNM 14 - BYU 10
00:27 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 52 yd field goal, 8-37 2:25, UNM 14 - BYU 13
3rd 06:20 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 37 yd field goal, 4-6 1:53, UNM 14 - BYU 16
4th 07:59 UNM - Moore, Dontrell 2 yd run (Moore, Dontrell rush failed),
6-76 2:14, UNM 20 - BYU 16
FIRST DOWNS................... 14 10
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 49-145 30-94
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 155 94
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 22-11-2 32-11-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 71-300 62-188
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 3-14 5-59
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 3-35 4-88
Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-50 2-80
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 8-43.0 8-44.4
Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards............... 4-37 6-29
Possession Time............... 34:41 25:19
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-20 1-2
RUSHING: New Mexico-Moore, Dontrell 26-93; Boyd, Adrian 8-57; Manning, Joe
1-4; NM Team Stats 1-minus 1; Kelly, Casey 13-minus 8. Brigham Young-WHALEN,
Marcus 17-53; PAYNE, Matt 1-28; CHRISTENSEN, To 1-9; BROWN, Curtis 4-5;
PENDLETON, Lanc 1-4; BERRY, Matt 6-minus 5.
PASSING: New Mexico-Kelly, Casey 11-22-2-155. Brigham Young-BERRY, Matt
9-26-2-81; MORTENSEN, Todd 2-6-0-13.
RECEIVING: New Mexico-Boyd, Adrian 4-99; Moore, Dontrell 3-24; Thomas,
Terrenc 2-22; Counter, Dwight 1-7; Manning, Joe 1-3. Brigham Young-MAHE,
Reno 4-35; NEAD, Spencer 3-17; ANDERSON, Justi 2-27; WILKERSON, Rod 2-15.
INTERCEPTIONS: New Mexico-Ratcliff, Brand 1-50; Moss, Charles 1-0. Brigham
Young-BURBIDGE, Jon 1-80; DUNHAM, Tyson 1-0.
FUMBLES: New Mexico-Kelly, Casey 1-0; Moore, Dontrell 1-1. Brigham
Stadium: Edwards Stadium Attendance: 60764
Kickoff time: 4:07 pm End of Game: 7:23 pm Total elapsed time: 3:16
Officials: Referee: Clair Gausman; Umpire: Gary Crum; Linesman: Brian Matthew;
Line judge: Robert Bahne; Back judge: Terry Leyden; Field judge: Kim Nelson;
Side judge: Ken Lucido;
Temperature: 52 F Wind: none Weather: high thin clouds
SACKS (UA-A): New Mexico-Coulter, Kyle 1-1; Fashola, Fola 0-1. Brigham
Young-NUA, Shaun 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): New Mexico-Speegle, Nick 3-4; Moss, Charles 2-5; Fashola,
Fola 1-5; Wiley, Sidney 1-4; Gregory, Brando 3-1; Golden, Terrell 2-2;
Coulter, Kyle 2-2; Parker, Marcus 1-3; Bazinet, Josh 3-0; Josue, Hebrews
2-1; Renteria, D.J. 1-2; Strother, Billy 0-3; Ratcliff, Brand 0-3; Black,
Desmar 2-0; Flakes, Curtis 1-0; Malone, Jerrell 1-0; Selander, Joe 1-0;
Morrison, Guill 1-0; Harris, Chrisho 1-0; Kegler, Daniel 1-0; Farrel, Jake
0-1; Gawronski, Dan 0-1; Rupp, Zach 0-1; Mohoric, Mike 0-1; Sanders,Rashaun
0-1. Brigham Young-BOCKWOLDT, Colb 7-3; PILI, Ifo 5-4; BURBIDGE, Jon 5-3;
WALKENHORST, Pa 5-2; MARQUARDT, Dani 4-2; NUA, Shaun 3-2; TANNER, Mike 0-5;
FRANCISCO, Aaro 3-1; KEHL, Bryan 2-2; NIELSEN, Kip 1-2; BEVERLEY, Kish 2-0;
BARNEY, Chad 2-0; COWART, Jeff 1-1; WILKERSON, Rod 1-0; POPPINGA, Brady 1-0;
ATKINSON, Bryan 0-1; PAYNE, Matt 0-1; DENNEY, John 0-1; GILFORD, Jernar 0-1;
STEVENS, Chris 0-1.
COUGARS TO FACE NEW MEXICO IN FINAL HOME GAME
After losing its first three MWC games, BYU has won two straight, including a 35-31 win over Wyoming on Saturday. Needing to win one of their final two games to become bowl-eligible, the Cougars will play host to New Mexico (5-5, 3-1) on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Lobos will enter Saturday's game following a 15-8 victory against San Diego State. The game, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. (MT), will be broadcast locally on KSL-TV, Ch. 5 by SportsWest.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a local television audience on KSL-TV. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. (MT). Tom Kirkland will call the action, with former BYU quarterback, Blaine Fowler, lending expert analysis. Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with Greg Wrubell calling the action and Marc Lyons lending expert analysis. Bill Riley will report from the sidelines.
Following Saturday's game against New Mexico, the Cougars will travel to Utah on Saturday, Nov. 23 for the final regular-season game of the year. Game time is slated for 1 p.m. (MT).
New Mexico enters this weekend's matchup needing to win two of its final three games in order to qualify for a post-season bowl bid. The Lobos improved their chances with a 15-8 victory over San Diego State on Saturday. Like BYU, New Mexico has won two straight games. A candidate for the cardiac award, the Lobos have had three overtime games this season, posting a 1-2 record. Casey Kelly leads the New Mexico offense, connecting on 126-of-219 attempts for 1,227 yards on the season. Kelly has recorded 8 touchdown completions, and is averaging 136.3 yards per game. Tailback Dontrell Moore has 1,227 rushing yards on the season, averaging 136.3 yards per game. All totaled, the Lobos are averaging 319.6 yards per game, and scoring an average 24.5 points per contest. Defensively, New Mexico has allowed 368.3 yards per game, and 27.3 points per contest. The Lobos are led by middle linebacker Charles Moss, who has a team-leading 83 tackles on the season. Defensive end Daniel Kegler, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound junior has recorded a team-high 6.5 sacks on the season. Two players, including Moss and Terrell Golden have two interceptions.
BYU vs. NEW MEXICO
Saturday's game will mark the 52nd meeting between BYU and New Mexico. The Cougars lead the series, 38-12-1. Additionally, BYU owns a 20-4 record when playing in Provo, including a streak of 14 straight wins in Edwards Stadium. The Cougars have not lost to New Mexico in Provo since a 14-0 UNM victory in 1971. New Mexico head coach Rocky Long, a native of Provo, Utah, is 0-3 against BYU. The Cougars have won 28 of the last 30 meeting, including 20 of the last 21 games. BYU has won four straight games after losing at New Mexico, 38-28, in 1997. Under current head coach, Gary Crowton, the Cougars are 1-0 against the Lobos, including last season's 24-20 Luke Staley-less win in Albuquerque. In Provo, the Cougars average 35.54 points against New Mexico, while holding the Lobos to just 16.8 points per contest.
A LOOK BACK (BYU 24, UNM 20)
Without Luke Staley, Brandon Doman took matters in his own hands and led the Cougars to another come-from-behind victory, defeating New Mexico, 24-20 in Albuquerque. Similar to the UNLV game two weeks before, the Cougars found themselves down three points late in the game. BYU again faced a fourth-down situation, but this time it was fourth-and-11. Doman ran the option behind some key blocks on the right side of the line, and took the ball for a first down to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Doman rolled right and threw off-balance into the end zone where Andrew Ord came down with the touchdown catch. Matt Payne connected on the PAT to give the Cougars a four-point lead. With Brian McDonald-Ashford sidelined with a knee injury, and Staley out while the University investigated his academic eligibility status, Ned Stearns took over and finished the game with 18 carries for a career-high 72 yards. Doman tried to make up for Staley's absence through the air, finishing the game 22-of-41 for 258 yards passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions. After the Cougars scored the go-ahead touchdown, cornerback Jernaro Gilford intercepted his second Casey Kelly pass to seal the BYU victory.
STILL BOWL HOPING
With its 35-31 win over Wyoming on Saturday, the Cougars (5-5, 2-3) remain in strong contention for one of the Mountain West Conference's four post-season bowl opportunities. Two MWC teams have already achieved the required six wins to become bowl-eligible, including Colorado State (8-2, 4-0) and Air Force (7-3, 3-2). Three additional teams are still alive, while San Diego State (3-7, 3-2), Utah (3-6, 1-4) and Wyoming (2-8, 1-4) have been eliminated from post-season bowl consideration. The Cougars have won five games on the season, and with two games remaining, BYU must win one of its final two games. BYU will play host to New Mexico on Saturday, and will travel to Utah on Nov. 23 for the season finale. New Mexico is also very much alive in the bowl hunt. The Lobos, like BYU, are also 5-5 on the season. However, with a 13-game schedule, they must win two of their final three games. New Mexico plays at BYU on Saturday, at Colorado State on Nov. 23 and will wrap-up the regular-season on Nov. 30 in Albuquerque against Wyoming. The winner of the Mountain West Conference will travel to Memphis, Tenn., Dec. 31 to take on the Conference USA champion in the Liberty Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl will have second choice among the league's bowl-eligible teams. The MWC selection will face the Pac-10's fifth selection. The game will be played at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Christmas Day. The third MWC selection will travel to the first-ever San Francisco Bowl on Dec. 31. The Mountain West selection will face a Big East opponent at Pac Bell Park. Finally, a fourth MWC selection will travel to the second-annual Seattle Bowl, facing a sixth selection from the ACC. The game will be played at the new Seahawk Stadium on Dec. 30.
COUGARS ENDS THREE-GAME LOSING STREAK
BYU posted its second straight win on Saturday, defeating Wyoming, 35-31, improving to an even 5-5 on the season, and 2-3 in MWC action. The Cougars overcame a 14-point run by the Cowboys in the second half, and added a late fourth-quarter touchdown to regain the lead. Quarterback Matt Berry found tight end Gabe Reid for a 4-yard touchdown strike with 3:28 remaining to give the Cougars the game-winning touchdown. The BYU defense then held Wyoming on four straight plays to take over on downs at the BYU 17-yard line with 1:45 remaining. Berry finished with a strong performance, completing 31-of-45 passing for a career-high 360 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Saturday's game was also a night of milestones for wide receiver Reno Mahe, who finished the night with six receptions for 80 yards. Mahe passed Todd Christenson for sixth place on the Cougars all-time career receptions list with 157 receptions and also moved in to 10th place on the all-time career yardage list with 2,067 career catches. Running back Marcus Whalen, recorded his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season, racking up 124 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown and moving to within 149 yards of a 1,000-yard rushing season.
ÃƒÂ² Attendance at Saturday's game vs. Wyoming (61,689) marked the fourth largest home crowd of the season. The Cougars are averaging a league-leading 62,458 fans per game.
ÃƒÂ² Wyoming rover Jacque Finn picked off BYU quarterback Matt Berry at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown, cutting the BYU lead to 28-23. Finn's interception marked the second pick a BYU opponent has returned for a touchdown this season, and ties the longest interception return by an opponent in BYU football history. The most recent was by UTEP's Michael Hicks during the 1996 season.
ÃƒÂ² The Cougars converted a season-best 11-of-16 (.688) third-down attempts, while the BYU defense held the Cowboys to just 4-of-11 (.364) attempts. It was the third time this season the BYU defense has held an opponent to four (or less) third-down conversions.
ÃƒÂ² Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Berry completed 31 attempts for 360 yards, marking his first career 300-yard passing performance. Berry also completed three touchdowns and had two interceptions. Trailing 31-28 with 8:59 remaining, Berry orchestrated a 10-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Gabe Reid for the game-winning touchdown.
ÃƒÂ² BYU senior receiver Reno Mahe finished the night with 80 yards receiving on 6 receptions. With his performance, Mahe moved in to 10th place on the all-time receiving list with 2,067 yards. Mahe needs just 139 yards to eclipse Mike Chirstopher's mark of 2,205 career yards for 9th place. Mahe also moved up the career receptions list, recording his 157th career reception to move in to sixth place, passing Todd Christensen who had 152 receptions.
ÃƒÂ² BYU tight end Spencer Nead scored his first touchdown of the season on a 15-yard reception from quarterback Matt Berry. Nead finished the night with 6 receptions for 72 yards.
ÃƒÂ² For the seventh time this season, the Cougars failed to score in the first quarter of play.
ÃƒÂ² Matt Berry's 4-yard touchdown completion to Gabe Reid with 3:28 remaining in the game marked Reid's team-leading fifth touchdown reception of the season. It is the third time in the past five games the two have connected for a touchdown.
ÃƒÂ² BYU scored 21 points in the second quarter, marking the most points scored in a single quarter this season. Its previous high was 14 points against Utah State on Oct. 4. The Cougars' 21 points also marked the most points scored in the first half since posting 21 against Syracuse in the season-opener.
ÃƒÂ² BYU sophomore running back Marcus Whalen carried the ball 26 times for 124 yards, marking his fifth 100-yard game of the season. Whalen needs just 149 yards to reach 1,000 yards on the season.
28 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS ON THE LINE
A win on Saturday would ensure the Cougars of their 29th straight non-losing regular-season. Following a 63-33 win over Air Force on Oct. 20, 2001, the Cougars claimed their 28th straight non-losing season. BYU has not had a losing campaign since posting a 5-6 mark in 1973--former head coach LaVell Edward's second season as head coach. The Cougars' streak of 28 straight seasons ranks 11th all-time at the NCAA Division I-A level and is currently the third longest non-losing streak in the nation. (Nebraska ranks No. 1 with 40 straight seasons without a losing campaign.)
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 348 GAMES AND COUNTING
With Marcus Whalen's 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against Wyoming, BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 348 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) The Cougars don't have a single person on their 2002 roster that was alive the last time BYU was shut out.
BERRY NAMED MWC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Berry was named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Cougars to a 35-31 victory over Wyoming on Saturday. The 6-foot-6, right-hander completed a career-high 31-of-45 (.689) attempts for 360 yards. Berry completed three touchdown passes against the Cowboys, including the game-winning toss to tight-end Spencer Nead. Trailing 31-28, Berry orchestrated a 12-play, 64-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to give BYU the go-ahead touchdown. Facing fourth-and-inches at the Wyoming 8-yard line, Berry drove through the middle on the quarterback-keeper to pick up the crucial first down. Two plays later, Berry found Reid in the endzone for the game-winning touchdown. Berry's 300-yard performance marked the Cougars' first 300-yard passing performance since Bret Engemann opened the season with 386 yards against Syracuse. Berry leads the BYU roster with 7 touchdown completions, and has thrown for 1,069 yards, averaging over 267 yards per game. Berry is the fourth BYU player to earn MWC Player-of-the-Week honors. (Bret Engemann, Sept. 1; Curtis Brown, Oct. 7; Matt Payne, Nov. 4) Following his collegiate debut -- a respectable 6-of-8 performance for 95 yards against Air Force, BYU head coach Gary Crowton announced Berry would be the Cougars' starting quarterback against UNLV. The Redmond, Wash., native became the first redshirt freshman to start at quarterback since Ty Detmer back in 1988. Berry is also the first starting quarterback to wear jersey No. 8 since Steve Young. In his first start since his senior season at Redmond (Wash.) High School, back in Nov., 1998, Berry completed 14-of-27 (.519) attempts for 186 yards against the Rebels. In his second start, against Colorado State, Berry got off to a respectable pace, connecting on 7 of his first 7 attempts for 82 yards. He did not throw an incompletion until the 9:34 mark of the third quarter. In the second half, he was 10-of-19 for 66 yards, finishing the night with a 65.4 completion percentage. In the second quarter, Berry led the Cougars on an 84-yard drive, capped by a one-yard run -- his first career rushing touchdown. In his third career start, Berry led BYU to a commanding 34-10 victory over league co-leader San Diego State. He threw for 280 yards on 19-of-31 (.613) attempts and completed 3 touchdown completions, including a 37-yard strike to Jason Kukahiko in the first quarter, a 4-yard screen pass to Reno Mahe in the third quarter, and a 27-yard, game-clinching 27-yard completion to Reid. Berry gained valuable experience during the JV season, completing 12-of-23 attempts for 144 yards against top-ranked Dixie State College, including a touchdown pass to Kish Beverley. Against Snow College, Berry led the Cougar offense on an 80-yard drive, finishing with a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andy Hadfield.
HOME WIN STREAK ENDS -- A NEW ONE BEGINS
A 24-3 loss against UNLV on Oct. 19 ended the Cougars' 10-game home winning streak. That streak dated back to Oct. 26, 2000 (vs. Wyoming). Since Cougar Stadium was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium on Nov. 18, 2001, the Cougars had never lost a game in Provo, posting a 9-0 record before losing to the Rebels. The stretch marked the longest home win streak for the Cougars since winning 17 straight from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991. With a perfect 6-0 record in Provo last season, the Cougars have recorded 12 undefeated home seasons since the 1967 campaign. In fact, since the stadium was expanded to 65,000, the Cougars have posted eight different seasons without losing a game in Provo. The 2001 perfect home season marked the first since 1998. In 2002, BYU is 4-1 at Edwards Stadium, and has won 12 of its last 13 games at home, including a 35-31 win over Wyoming on Saturday.
"34" -- THE MAGIC NUMBER
When the Cougars score 34 or more points, they have posted a perfect 5-0 record. BYU has registered wins over Syracuse (42-21), Hawaii (35-32), Utah State (35-34). San Diego State (34-10) and Wyoming (35-31). When BYU scores 28 or less points, the Cougars are 0-5.
BACK TO .500
After starting the season with back-to-back wins, BYU has won three of its last eight games to post a 5-5 record on the year. After dropping two games below the .500 mark (with a 37-10 loss at Colorado State), the Cougars moved back to the all-even mark with a 35-31 win over Wyoming. The Cougars' current winning percentage earlier in the season (.375) marked the first time BYU has posted a sub-.500 record over the first nine games since posting a 4-5 record during the 2000 season. Ironically, the Cougars finished the season by winning three of their last four games to finish 6-6 on the year. BYU's sub-.500 record marked only the second time since the 1975 season the Cougars have not posted a winning record through the first nine games.
SLOW LEAGUE START
For the first time since the 1973 season -- LaVell Edward's second season as head coach -- the Cougars got off to an 0-3 start in league play. As in 1973, the Cougars snapped the three-game losing streak with a victory in the fourth league game of the season. (In 1973, BYU defeated New Mexico 56-21 to end the three-game skid.) With a win over San Diego State last Saturday, the Cougars avoided the longest conference losing streak since 1968.
COUGARS WIN BACK-TO-BACK SATURDAY CONTESTS
Saturday's 35-31 win over Wyoming marked only the Cougars' second win on a Saturday. Entering the San Diego State game, BYU had posted an 0-4 record when playing on Saturday, including losses at Nevada, at Georgia Tech, at Air Force and against UNLV. The Cougars' three remaining games will all by played on Saturday. BYU posted a 1-1 record on Thursdays and a 2-0 record on Fridays.
POINT PRODUCTION IMPROVING
Entering Saturday's game (against Wyoming), the Cougars were averaging just 23.9 points per game. BYU managed to post 35 points on the Cowboys, marking the second straight game the Cougars have scored 34 (or more) points, improving the Cougars' season average to 25.0 points per game. The 35 points marked the most points scored in a game since posting 35 against Utah State. BYU started the season with a 42-point effort against Syracuse, and followed that with a 35-point performance against Hawaii. From there, with the exception of the Utah State contest, the point production started to decrease. BYU managed 28 in a losing effort at Nevada, 19 at Georgia Tech, only 9 at Air Force, 3 against UNLV, and 10 at Colorado State. Scoring only 3 points against UNLV marked the lowest point total in a game in Provo since being shutout in 1971 (vs. New Mexico). Leading up to the San Diego State game, BYU had managed just 22 points over a three-game stretch, averaging just over 7 points per game. In those three games, BYU was outscored 113-22 (37.6 - 7.3). Over the past two games, the Cougars are averaging 34.5 points per contest, marking an improvement of 27.2 points per game from the previous three games.
A WHALE OF A TALE
In the season-opener (vs. Syracuse), Marcus Whalen's first career start, he turned in 140 yards on 19 carries, averaging 7.4 yards per touch. Whalen was credited with a career-high 58-yard run to the goal line, then bullied his way in to the endzone on the very next play for his first TD of the season. Against Hawaii, Whalen was credited with a career-high 30 carries, racking up 141 yards and two more touchdowns. In the third game of the season (at Nevada), Whalen turned in 135 yards on only 14 carries, averaging 9.6 yards per carry. During the first quarter, Whalen broke loose for what appeared to be a 92-yard touchdown run, but was returned to the 21 yardline after a illegal block was called on the Cougars. Whalen was officially credited with a career-long 71 yard run on the play. At Georgia Tech, Whalen played through the first quarter before being forced to sit the remainder of the game with a pulled abductor muscle. He did not play against Utah State while still recovering from the muscle injury. In his first game action since Sept. 21, Whalen carried the ball nine times for 41 yards against Air Force, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Against UNLV, Whalen was back to true form, carrying the ball 22 times for 105 yards -- his fourth 100-game of the season. At Colorado State, Whalen ran into a stingy CSU defense, but still managed 77 yards on 18 carries, including a 39-yard run that would eventually lead to a BYU touchdown. In the Cougars' 34-10 victory over San Diego State, Whalen totaled 75 yards on just 13 carries, averaging a bullish 5.8 yards per carry. Whalen did not have a single carry for negative yardage and scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter, marking his first touchdown since scoring on a 30-yard run at Nevada back on Sept. 14. Against Wyoming, Whalen racked up 124 yards on 26 carries, marking the most yards since posting 135 yards on 14 carries at Nevada. It was also the fifth time this season Whalen has produced 100-or-more yards rushing. Whalen also scored on a 6-yard run, tieing the game at 7-7. Whalen also had four receptions for 25 yards. On the season, Whalen ranks second in the MWC with a 94.6 yards-per-game average. Whalen is on pace to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark this season, needing just 149 more yards. With his 100-yard performance at Nevada, Whalen became the first running back in BYU history to start a season with three straight 100-yard outings.
851 YARDS DOWN, 149 YARDS TO GO
Should Whalen eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier, he would become the seventh different (eighth overall) BYU ball carrier to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. It would also mark only the second time in BYU football history that the Cougars have had two different ball carriers run for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
THE UPPER-CLASSMAN DIFFERENCE
Since the 1990 season, when BYU starts the season with a junior or senior quarterback, the Cougars have posted a 72.8 winning percentage. In that same time frame, when BYU starts the season with an under-classman, the Cougars win just 54.1 percent of their games. Since the 1990 campaign, BYU has only started an under classman in three different seasons, including 1992, 1993 and 2000.
NOT SO FAST
After scoring 10 points against San Diego State on Nov. 2, the Cougars equaled their entire first-quarter season total. However, that one-game trend was snapped against Wyoming as the Cougars failed to score in the opening quarter for the seventh time in 10 games this season. On the season, the Cougars have been outscored 71-20 in the first quarter, including a difference of 41-13 in MWC action. After scoring 10 first-quarter points against SDSU, the Cougars racked up 10 more points in the second quarter to take a 20-0 lead into the half. Matt Payne's 35-yard field goal with 11:40 remaining in the first quarter at Air Force marked the first first-quarter points scored by the Cougars since posting seven first-quarter points in the season-opener against Syracuse. Through 10 games, BYU has scored just 20 points in the first quarter of play. In fact, the Cougars have been outscored 71-20 during first-quarter action. Prior to Payne's field goal at Air Force, the Cougars had not scored in the first quarter since recording a 6-yard touchdown pass from Bret Engemann to Andrew Ord with 8:14 remaining in the first quarter against Syracuse. Prior to the Air Force contest, the Cougars had 16 different first-quarter possessions, and had crossed midfield only six different times. Over that four-game span, BYU's average first-quarter field possession was its own 46 yard line. Over the past 10 games, including Saturday's game against Wyoming, the Cougars have entered the Red Zone only twice during the first quarter.
Entering the Nov. 2 game against San Diego State, BYU had lost three straight games, marking the longest single-season losing streak since dropping games at Wyoming, Utah and against Marshall in the 1999 Motor City Bowl. A 34-10 win over the Aztecs on Saturday prevented a four-game losing streak. BYU had not lost four straight games since the 1993 season. Ironically, the Cougars' 1993 four-game losing streak came to an end after BYU defeated San Diego State, 45-44.
In the Cougars' first three MWC games, they allowed an average 425 yards per game, including 127.7 yards passing and 297.3 yards rushing. In the last two league games, the BYU defense has held its opponents to just 302.5 yards per contest, including 255.5 yards passing and just 47.0 yards rushing. While allowing more passing yards per game, the defense has stiffened its rush defense by over 250 yards per game. The Cougars held San Diego State to just 18 yards rushing, and limited the Wyoming attack to just 76 yards. San Diego State entered the Nov. 2 contest averaging a league-leading 426.6 yards per game and over 30 points per contest. The BYU defense held the Aztecs to just 246 total yards -- over 180 yards below their average. The Cougars limited the SDSU running game to just 18 totl yards on 28 carries. The Cougars' rush defense marked the best performance since limiting Utah State to just 11 yards rushing during the 2000 season. The BYU defense also held the Aztecs to just 228 yards passing on 26-of-46 attempts -- over 119 yards below their per-game average. The Cougars also managed to keep San Diego State off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter. The first-half shutout was the BYU defenses first since posting a first-half shutout against Nevada last season. The Cougars also recorded five sacks on the afternoon, including three from sophomore defensive end Brady Poppinga. Prior to the SDSU game, the BYU defense had recorded just 2 sacks in its previous three MWC games. In the past two games, the Cougar defense has produced 7 sacks -- an increase of over 2.8 sacks per game. In the first three league games, the Cougars allowed an average 37.7 points per contest. Against SDSU and Wyoming, BYU has allowed just 20.5 points per contest -- an improvement of over 17 points per contest. In its first three league games, BYU failed to produced an interception. Over the last two games, the BYU defense has produced 2 interceptions.
The BYU defense failed to record an interception against Air Force, marking the first time in 20 games the Cougars did not pick off an opposing quarterback. Prior to Jernaro's first interception of the season (vs. San Diego State), the Cougars had gone three straight games without an interception. The streak of 20 straight games dated back to the Cougars' 34-27 win over Utah on Nov. 24, 2000. During that stretch, BYU recorded 36 interceptions, averaging 1.8 interceptions per game. The Cougars posted six games of three or more interceptions, including a streak-high four interceptions against Hawaii earlier this season. During the 2002 season, BYU has produced two or more interceptions in four of nine games. On the season, 11 different players have recorded at least one interception, including cornerback Brandon Heaney who has a team high three interceptions. Linebacker Levi Madarieta and cornerback Kip Nielsen each have two picks. Gilford, who had been suffering from a nagging injury, made his first measured performance against San Diego State. Gilford had played sparingly against Nevada and Georgia Tech. His fourth-quarter interception in the Aztec's endzone prevented a touchdown, and in essence sealed the BYU victory. Gilford has 8 career interceptions. Since a three-game drought, the Cougars have rebounded with an interception against San Diego State and Wyoming.
THE TETON TERROR
Known over the past 20+ years for its All-American quarterbacks, BYU is quickly becoming known for its outstanding tight ends. Senior tight end Spencer Nead is making a solid case to join the ranks of BYU's long line of outstanding tight ends, including Gordon Hudson, Chad Lewis, Itula Mili and Doug Jolley. Nead started the 2002 campaign with a career-high 80-yard performance in the Cougars' 42-21 win over Syracuse. He was one of three different receivers with five receptions on the night. All totaled three different BYU tight ends, including Gabe Reid and Aisaac Aiono accounted for 133 yards on 11 receptions. Against Hawaii, Nead recorded three receptions for 41 yards, including a team-high 22-yard reception. After just one reception at Nevada for 12 yards, Nead returned to form at Georgia Tech, recording three receptions for 21 yards. He was the only tight end with a reception against the Yellow Jackets. Against Utah State, Nead played a major roll in the come-from-behind victory, recording a team-leading 6 receptions for 47 yards. A week later, Nead again led BYU with 5 receptions for 77 yards (at Air Force). Against UNLV, Nead had 2 receptions for 21 yards. At Colorado State, Nead had only one reception for 24 yards, setting up a Matt Payne field goal to pull BYU to within 7 points late in the second quarter. In the Cougars' 34-10 win over San Diego State, Nead was credited with 2 receptions for 10 yards. Against Wyoming, Nead registered a team-high 6 receptions for 72 yards, averaging 12 yards per reception. Nead also picked up his first touchdown of the season, grabbing a 15-yard pass from Matt Berry in the back of the endzone to give the Cougars a 14-7 lead. On the season, Nead ranks second on the BYU roster with 34 receptions for 405 yards, averaging 40.5 yards per game. He is just one of three receivers with over 300 receiving yards on the season.
BYU tight ends have accounted for 621 yards receiving on the season, averaging over 62 yards per game. Tight ends Gabe Reid and Spencer Nead have recorded 6 of the Cougars' 16 touchdown receptions on the season. Nead ranks second on the BYU roster with 405 yards on 34 receptions, while Reid has recorded 17 receptions for 183 yards. Reid is averaging one touchdown catch every 3.4 receptions.
GOOD GRIEF, CURTIS BROWN
In his first career start (at Utah State), true freshman Curtis Brown ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns, helping BYU record its largest come-from-behind victory in school history. Fueled by Brown's performance, the Cougars erased a 27-point halftime deficit to beat Utah State, 35-34, on Friday in Logan. Brown, who averaged 6.6 yards on 33 carries, also added 49 yards on 4 receptions and was named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week. Brown became the sixth back in BYU history to rush for over 200 yards in a single game, and his performance ranks fourth on the school's single-game rushing list. While Brown is averaging nearly 7 carries per game, he had 8 touches against Wyoming. He had 5 carries for 3 yards, but was most impressive with 3 receptions for 45 yards, including a 29 yarder that set up a BYU score. On the season, Brown currently ranks second on the BYU roster with319 yards on 67 carries. He also leads the roster with 9 kick returns for 178 yards, averaging 19.8 yards per return, including a career-high 26-yard return at Colorado State.
WHAT A PAYNE
BYU kicker Matt Payne has been pulling double duty this season, serving as the Cougars' punter and kicker. Following the Cougars' 34-10 victory over San Diego State, Payne was named the MWC Special Team Player of the Week. Payne connected on four punts for a season-high average 58.0 yards per punt, including a career-high 76 yarder. That punt ranks fourth longest in BYU history. Payne also nailed two 47-yard field goals to help BYU to a 20-0 halftime lead. Admitting he likes to punt more than kick, Payne unloaded for a total of 402 yards on seven punts in the Cougars' 31-28 loss at Nevada. Against the Wolfpack, Payne averaged 57.4 yards per punt. During the game, Payne was credited with a 72 yard punt, surpassing his previous long by eight yards. At Utah State, Payne had three punts for 136 yards, averaging 45.3 yards per punt, including a 51 yarder. Against Air Force, Payne averaged 41.5 yards per punt. Against Wyoming, Payne had just one punt for 63 yards. Currently, Payne leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks second in the nation with a 48.2 per-game average. In the kicking department, Payne is 8-for-111 on field goal attempts. Until missing a 51-yard attempt against Wyoming, Payne had connected on 8 straight field goals, including back-to-back 47-yarders against SDSU. Payne is a perfect 5-for-5 from 0-39 yards and 3-for-5 from 40-49 yards. On PATs, Payne is 26-of-29 (.897) on the season.