Cougars fall short to Nevada in the homecoming game 42-35
PROVO, Utah – Nevada scored 29 unanswered points in the second half to hand BYU football its third-consecutive loss as the Cougars fell 42-35 Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“First of all, this time period I’m challenging these kids. It’s time for cleaner execution,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “It’s time for a collective group to rise to the occasion and for each player to be accountable for doing their job exactly right–not just kind of right and not sometimes right, but exactly right.”
BYU senior quarterback Christian Stewart had career highs in completions (39), attempts (63), passing yards (408) and touchdowns (4). The BYU offense looked good early as Mitch Mathews had career highs with 16 catches and 182 receiving yards while catching two touchdowns. Junior running back Nate Carter replaced an injured Algernon Brown and had a career-high 87 rushing yards.
The Wolf Pack took its first lead of the second half on quarterback Cody Fajardo’s 25-yard touchdown run to put Nevada up 35-28 with 7:34 left in the game, and the Wolf Pack led the rest of the game.
After giving up a first down on a roughing-the-passer penalty and a long screen pass on the first drive of the game, the Cougar defense stiffened and forced Nevada to settle for a 44-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
After forcing a Nevada punt, BYU took over from its 3-yard line. A quick strike to Devin Mahina got the Cougars out of the shadow of their own end zone. Facing a fourth down in Wolf Pack territory, Stewart stood in the pocket and delivered a strike to Mathews to keep the drive alive inside the blue zone. On third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, senior captain Paul Lasike took the handoff and dove across the goal line for his first touchdown of the season to give BYU a 7-3 lead. The run capped a 12-play, 97-yard drive and was BYU’s longest scoring drive of the season.
Lasike scored his second touchdown of the night and first receiving touchdown of his career on a 20-yard pass from Stewart to finish off a 14-play, 72-yard drive to put BYU up 14-3 early in the second quarter.
Fajardo found running back Don Jackson on a 66-yard screen pass down to the BYU 9-yard line. Freshman James Butler took care of the rest and dove into the end zone on the next play to cut BYU’s lead to 14-10.
BYU’s offense continued to click on the following drive as Stewart found Mathews for a 20-yard touchdown to extend BYU’s lead to 21-10.
The Cougars were able to punch it in one more time with a minute left in the first half when Stewart found Mathews for an 11-yard touchdown to give BYU a 28-13 lead going into halftime.
After a missed field goal from BYU kicker Trevor Samson early in the third quarter, the Wolf Pack marched 74 yards in 13 plays capped by a 1-yard Fajardo touchdown run making the score 28-20 BYU.
After forcing a BYU fumble Nevada used an 11-play, 48-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Richy Turner, and Hasaan Henderson caught the two-point conversion to tie the game at 28 with 11:18 left in the fourth quarter.
After recovering a Stewart fumble, Butler put the Wolf Pack up 42-28 on a 6-yard touchdown run with 5:54 remaining in the game.
BYU marched 75 yards in 15 plays to get within seven when Stewart found Keanu Nelson for his first touchdown as a Cougar on a 7-yard pass, making the score 42-35 in favor of Nevada.
BYU’s offense had one more chance to tie the game, but a Stewart fumble in Wolf Pack territory sealed the upset win for Nevada.
The Cougars next travel to Boise, Idaho, to take on Boise State (5-2, 3-1) at Albertsons Field Friday. The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. MDT and be televised on ESPN.
Playing a schedule that included a school-record 10 bowl-bound teams in its final season as a football independent, BYU…