Field goal gives BYU 18-16 win in first game of Sitake era

GLENDALE, Ariz. – True freshman Jake Oldroyd made a game-winning 33-yard field goal to give the BYU football team an 18-16 win over Arizona in its first game under head coach Kalani Sitake Saturday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in the Cactus Kickoff.


Oldroyd came in for his first collegiate field goal attempt with eight seconds remaining and put it through for the win. The kick capped a nine play, 53-yard drive highlighted by a 17-yard strike to Moroni Laulu-Pututau to get things moving.

BYU was led by senior running back Jamaal Williams, who had 29 carries for 162 yards. It was his 11th career 100-yard rushing game. Senior quarterback Taysom Hill completed 21 of 29 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown while adding 37 yards on the ground.

The Cougars (1-0) held the Wildcats (0-1) to 328 total yards and no first-half points en route to the win. It was Arizona's fewest total yards since a 55-17 loss at Stanford in 2015. BYU forced the Wildcats into two turnovers.

BYU's new-look offense recorded 415 total yards, balanced with 213 rushing and 202 passing.

"Things just went our way," Sitake said. "We were able to get the victory, I’m super pleased with how the guys played.  This isn’t about me, it’s about these guys, they worked extremely hard for this win. It was just a great game all together."

Sophomore linebacker Butch Pau'u led the defense wit nine total tackles including seven solo, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Senior safety Kai Nacua had an interception and running back turned linebacker Francis Bernard recorded an interception and a sack in his defensive debut.

BYU claimed a 9-0 first-half advantage after a 24-yard field goal by Rhett Almond and a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Brayden El-Bakri in the second quarter.

The Cougars' first three points were set up by a 33-yard run from Williams. After rumbling to the Arizona 10 yard line, the ball was placed on the 20 due to a block in the back. After a few short gains, Almond booted the field goal for a 3-0 lead with 10:42 on the second-quarter clock.

It was about eight minutes later that El-Bakri punched in the only touchdown of the first half. His first career carry and touchdown culminated an 11-play, 65-yard steady drive in which Hill completed all four of his pass attempts. The extra point was no good.

The defensive shutout BYU pitched in the first half was primed by Bernard. He intercepted a pass from Wildcat quarterback Anu Solomon to lead to the touchdown and also had a sack late in the half.

More than half of the third quarter went by without either team scoring before Arizona kicker Josh Pollack hit a 46-yard field goal. That trimmed the Cougars' lead to 9-3 with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter.

Williams went over the century mark on the ground with a 36-yard run down to the Wildcat 44 yard line late in the third quarter. BYU preserved its 9-3 edge heading into the last period of play.

Senior receiver Colby Pearson capped off the drive that Williams sparked by reeling in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Hill. A failed two-point attempt left the Cougars up 15-3 with 11:36 left in the game.

Arizona put together a pair of drives for touchdowns, finding the end zone for the first time just two minutes after BYU. A failed two-point attempt after the second touchdown had the Wildcats up 16-15 with the clock showing 1:26.

Matt Hadley returned the ensuing kickoff to the BYU 31-yard line. Hill marched the Cougars down the field to set up Oldroyd with the 33-yard attempt that went right down the middle with four seconds left to lift BYU to victory.

BYU will next head up to Salt Lake City to face the University of Utah next Saturday at 5:30 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live on Fox and will be available on the Cougar IMG Sports Network along with KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.