BYU opens Big 12 era with shutout victory over Sam Houston

BYU football notched its first shutout victory since 2014, defeating Sam Houston 14-0 in its inaugural game as a Big 12 Conference member.


THE CUT: Sam Houston

PROVO, Utah – BYU football notched its first shutout victory since 2014, defeating Sam Houston 14-0 in its inaugural game as a Big 12 Conference member.

BYU’s opening drive gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead, one it maintained for the majority of the contest before an early fourth-quarter touchdown made it 14-0. Both the Cougars (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) and Bearkats (1-0, 0-0 CUSA) struggled to establish momentum on the offensive side of the ball with 19 combined punts.

Quarterback Kedon Slovis went 20-33 for 145 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while finding eight different receivers. His first 6-yard score was a career-first rushing touchdown for the seasoned Pitt transfer. Slovis also surpassed 10,000 career passing yards Saturday, moving up to 10,118 yards for the third-leading passer in yardage among all active FBS quarterbacks entering this weekend.

The BYU defense tallied three interceptions. Two were snatched by junior cornerback Jakob Robinson, including a crucial high-point, end-zone grab in the third quarter with Sam Houston threatening to score. Robinson’s two takeaways marked the first time since 2021 (Georgia Southern) that a BYU defender recorded two interceptions in a single game – the last time it happened was by Robinson himself.

Punter Ryan Rehkow totaled career-high nine punts for 479 yards, including four landing inside the 20-yard line, seven over 50 yards and a long of 65.

Freshman running back LJ Martin’s 91 yards on the ground were the most from a BYU true freshman since Jamaal Williams’ 104 yards versus Idaho in 2012. Darius Lassiter and Chase Roberts led the receivers with 43 and 42 yards, respectively.

Junior linebacker Ben Bywater and senior linebacker Max Tooley led the defense with nine tackles apiece. Defensive back Ethan Slade led the team in tackles-for-loss with 1.5.

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Postgame Notes and Quotes

First Quarter

The Cougar defense opened the game by forcing a three-and-out, punctuated by a 12-yard, 3rd-down sack when Tyler Batty tripped up Shoemaker after a botched snap.

Starting at the 50-yard line after a 14-yard Hobbs Nyberg punt return, the offense paced an efficient, eight-play, 2:54 drive after Slovis posted his first career rushing touchdown on a six-yard keeper. The drive included Aidan Robbins powering his way to 17 yards rushing (three attempts) and a 16-yard strike to Roberts, helping put the Cougars up 7-0 with 10:39 remaining in the opening quarter.

A Sam Houston three-and-out led to another BYU drive, this time cut short with just one first down coming on an 18-yard sling to Lassiter in double coverage. Following Rehkow’s punt, the Cougars would force a third consecutive three-and-out with 5:30 remaining in the quarter after Ethan Slade stepped in for a pass breakup.

The Cougar offense took over near midfield again, and Slovis fired an 11-yard dart to Mason Fakahua for his first career reception. The drive would stall, leading to a 4th-and-3 incompletion when the short pass aimed for Keelan Marion was broken up by Sam Houston with 2:31 to go.

Second Quarter

The quarter began with both teams struggling to move the sticks and trading possessions. Sam Houston gained momentum with two completions for 18 and 20 yards, foraying into BYU territory before the defense held at the 37-yard line. A touchback gave BYU its seventh possession of the game with 7:16 remaining.

Another Rehkow punt continued the Cougars’ dominance in the field position battle as he booted a 65-yarder to give Sam Houston the ball at its own four-yard line with 5:09 to go in the half.

With the score still at 7-0, BYU would get the ball on its own 36-yard line with 1:27 remaining before a delay of game on 3rd-and-five preceded an incomplete pass to Isaac Rex. Sam Houston took a knee as the half concluded with 12 combined punts, with seven for the Bearkats and five for BYU.

Third Quarter

A failed fake punt put Sam Houston immediately into red zone territory at the 20-yard line. A Cougar pass interference penalty pushed Sam Houston closer to striking distance at the five yard-line. Robinson then soared high to pick off a short pass to the left side of the end zone, preserving the 7-0 Cougar lead and forcing a touchback with 11:37 remaining in the quarter.

Another stalled BYU possession preceded Sam Houston marching 38 yards to their own 44-yard-line before Robinson snagged his second interception of the night on a sideline, single-coverage toss near midfield. Robinson dived to make the one-handed grab at the 4:45 mark of the quarter.

The final five minutes saw the BYU offense return to life, driving 54 yards to the one-yard line before the quarter concluded. Martin carried the rock the first four plays of the drive, totaling 21 yards. A critical offside penalty by the Bearkats before a BYU field goal attempt set up a 4th-and-1 conversion as Martin barreled up the middle for a seven-yard gain.

Fourth Quarter

Slovis began the final quarter with a one-yard touchdown carry to cap an 11-play, 55-yard drive, putting the Cougars up 14-0. Three Sam Houston incompletions quickly gave BYU the ball back.

Martin continued to assert authority downhill, breaking free for a 21-yard gain before another Rehkow punt on the BYU 50-yard line with 10:36 to go.

Both teams traded possessions for the remainder of the game, with neither team advancing into each other’s territory. With 20 seconds remaining, Weber State transfer Eddie Heckard intercepted a long pass by Shoemaker for the defense’s third of the night.

Next up, the Cougars host Southern Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. MDT on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Listen to live play-by-play on BYU Radio SiriusXM/BYU Radio App/KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.