Cougars move to 2-0 with 41-16 win over Southern Utah

Kedon Slovis connected with four different receivers on four touchdown passes as BYU football moved to 2-0 with a 41-16 win over Southern Utah on Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium.


PROVO, Utah — Kedon Slovis connected with four different receivers on four touchdown passes as BYU football moved to 2-0 with a 41-16 win over Southern Utah on Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Slovis connected on 22-of-32 pass attempts, totaling 348 yards through the air and helping BYU to 394 yards of total offense.

Eight different BYU players recorded a reception, four of which posted three or more. Chase Roberts led all BYU pass catchers with six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Isaac Rex led BYU in receiving yards with 112 on four receptions and a touchdown. Keanu Hill recorded his first touchdown grab of the season, while Darius Lassiter snagged the first of his Cougar career.

LJ Martin led BYU in rushing for the second time in as many games with 27 yards on six carries.

After a sluggish start and 6-3 lead in the first quarter, the Cougar offense roared to life, scoring 27 unanswered points to close the half. Slovis went 10-of-14 for 161 yards and threw two touchdowns in the second quarter alone.

BYU special teams helped spark the Cougars in both halves with a blocked punt and recovery following a Southern Utah muff. Return man and receiver Parker Kingston amassed 105 all-purpose ayrds.

Ben Bywater led the BYU defense with seven tackles (two solo), half a tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hurry. Ethan Slade also contributed seven tackles with four solo stops. BYU recorded seven quarterback hurries for the second straight week. AJ Vongphachanh led the Cougars in pressuring the quarterback with two on the day.

[Full recap below]

"We are 2-0. It wasn’t the best game, but I saw some really promising things. Obviously, I would like to play better in all three phases. I am thankful for some of the plays that the guys made to put some points on the board for the offense. We will keep getting better from now until next week when we are on the road. For the most part, I’m happy we got the win."

Kalani SitakeBYU head coach

First Quarter

After an illegal touching penalty stymied BYU’s opening drive of the game, the Thunderbirds responded with a nine-play, 52-yard scoring march. Receptions of 14 and 20 yards from Southern Utah receivers helped the visitors move down the field to the BYU 12-yard line. The BYU pass rush then flushed Thunderbird quarterback Justin Miller and forced an incompletion on 3rd-and-4.

Southern Utah then connected on a 29-yard field goal attempt, giving the Thunderbirds an early 3-0 lead.

While a 41-yard kickoff return from Parker Kingston jumpstarted the Cougars’ ensuing drive, the BYU offense would again be frustrated as the Southern Utah pass rush got home and forced an interception from Slovis.

BYU’s defense responded to the turnover by forcing a quick three-and-out as Vongphachanh hurried Miller and forced an errant throw.

Yards after catch were the name of the game for the Cougar offense in its final drive of the quarter. Slovis began the drive connecting with Rex on a pass over the middle. Rex then rumbled ahead and hurdled a Thunderbird defender on the way to an 11-yard gain. The senior tight end would move the offense further down the field a few plays later with a 16-yard reception.

BYU sustained the drive with a 12-yard reception from Slovis to Roberts on 3rd-and-4 from the Southern Utah 32-yard-line. The tandem of Slovis and Rex then finished the drive in the end zone as Slovis hit Rex on a 20-yard touchdown pass. With a missed extra point, BYU led 6-3 with just over a minute to play in the quarter following the nine-play, 85-yard scoring drive. 

Second Quarter

Quarterback pressure from Tyler Batty and Kamden Garrett forced an incompletion and brought an end to Southern Utah’s first drive of the quarter. BYU’s special teams then delivered a field-flipping play as Harrison Taggart blocked the ensuing punt and gave the offense the ball at the Thunderbird 36.

LJ Martin began the drive with a crowd-rousing 17-yard rush in which he bounced off of would-be tacklers on his way deep into Southern Utah territory. The BYU passing attack was quick to score thereafter as Slovis found Keanu Hill wide open in the right corner of the end zone for an 8-yard scoring strike. The quick BYU touchdown drive put the Cougars up 13-3 with 12:36 to play in the half.

Following another Southern Utah punt, the BYU offense took the field only to be faced moments later with a 4th-and-1 from its own 30. The Cougars converted on the crucial down with a three-yard completion from Slovis to tight end Mason Fakahua. Kingston then took BYU into plus territory with a 19-yard reception. The Cougars concluded the drive with an unconventional scoring play as Slovis snagged the ball out of the air off a high snap and lassoed the ball to Darius Lassiter. The son of late NFL great Kwami Lassiter did the rest, leaving would-be tacklers in his wake en route to a 42-yard touchdown scamper down the far sideline.

BYU then led 20-3 with 5:47 to go before halftime.

Southern Utah’s next drive was cut short as the BYU secondary forced its fourth takeaway in two games. Kamden Garrett picked off the Thunderbird pass and returned the ball to the Cougar offense at its own 30 with 1:07 before the half.

BYU wasted no time converting the interception into points and again did so with Rex recording yards after catch. On 2nd-and-10 from the 30, Slovis threaded the ball deep over the middle of the field, finding Rex and watching as the tight end rumbled to the Southern Utah 5-yard-line on the 65-yard gain. Deion Smith finished the job on the ground two plays later with a five-yard rushing touchdown that put BYU up 27-3 at halftime.

Third Quarter

Southern Utah came out of the locker room and quickly engineered a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive culminating in a 33-yard pass from Miller to receiver Isaiah Wooden. With the Thunderbird touchdown, BYU led 27-10 with 11 minutes to play in the third.

After a BYU three-and-out, Ryan Rehkow rocketed a 64-yard punt and put gunner Marcus McKenzie in perfect position for a return-stuffing tackle at the Southern Utah 2-yard-line.

The Thunderbirds moved out of the shadow of their own goal line with a 29-yard completion from Miller to receiver Zach Mitchell. A 19-yard completion moments later moved Southern Utah further into BYU territory before the Cougars forced a 3rd-and-3 from their own 27. Defensive tackle Caden Haws came up with the third down stop for BYU as he slipped his blocker and dropped the ball carrier for a loss. Southern Utah’s subsequent field goal attempt fell far short of the uprights and BYU maintained its 27-10 lead with four minutes to go in the quarter.

Slovis and his Cougar receiving corps kept the BYU offense driving as they responded to the missed field goal with a seven-play, 72-yard scoring drive. Slovis started the drive finding Keelan Marion for an 11-yard completion, then kept it alive with an 8-yard completion to Hill on 4th-and-3 from the Southern Utah 39.

A 25-yard completion to Lassiter then set up Slovis to finish the drive with his legs. The senior signal-caller capped the drive with a six-yard rushing touchdown to put BYU up 34-10 with 36 seconds remaining in the period.

Fourth Quarter

Special teams were the theme early in the fourth quarter as Southern Utah bottled BYU up deep in its own territory with a punt downed at the Cougars’ own five-yard-line. While forced into a punt of its own following a three-and-out, BYU’s special teams came up with yet another big play as McKenzie shot down the field and recovered the muffed punt at the Thunderbird 39. 

With new life in plus territory, the Cougar offense wasted no time scoring. Just one play removed from the fumble recovery, Slovis stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 39-yard touchdown strike to Roberts. The score extended BYU’s lead to 41-10 with 9:39 to play.

Southern Utah then finished the game with a final touchdown following an eight-play, 75-yard drive.

BYU returns to the field with its first road trip of the season at Arkansas on Sept. 15. Watch the Cougars face the Razorbacks at 6:30 p.m. CDT on ESPN2 or listen live on BYU Radio SiriusXM/BYU Radio App/KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.