PROVO, Utah – Senior quarterback Christian Stewart accounted for six touchdowns and junior Nate Carter rushed for a career-high as BYU beat Savannah State 64-0 on Senior Day Saturday at Lavell Edwards Stadium.
"I think our team did a nice job just during the game staying together and staying focused," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I think our team showed maturity and pulled for each other. I was really encouraged by the sideline. Those who don't get to play that much had an opportunity. They were genuinely happy for each other, and that's really good to see as a coach.”
Stewart completed 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for two more touchdowns. Junior receiver Mitch Mathews caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns for his third career multi-touchdown game at BYU. Stewart also connected with receivers Jordan Leslie and Terenn Houk for touchdowns.
Carter anchored BYU's ground game with 20 carries for a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore AJ Moore added 62 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The Cougars (7-4) scored promptly after receiving the opening kickoff, using a four-play, 85-yard drive for a touchdown. Receiving the snap from the BYU 29, Stewart dropped back, rolled right and found Mathews slanting deep over the middle. Mathews escaped the grasp of a Savannah State (0-12) defensive back and sprinted to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown.
BYU's defense forced a punt on the Tigers' first possession. Eight plays and 80 yards later, Stewart faked a handoff and ran left for a 16-yard score.
After forcing another punt, the Cougars struck again, with Stewart hooking up Mathews with another touchdown reception—this time from 16 yards out. Mathews' grab in the corner of the end zone gave BYU a 21-0 lead with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
Savannah State failed on a fake punt on its first possession of the second quarter, giving the Cougar offense a short field. Stewart found Houk in the middle of the endzone for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
On the ensuing Tiger possession, BYU senior linebacker Alani Fua intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards to the Savannah State six. Stewart ran for a 6-yard touchdown on the offense's first possession, increasing BYU's lead to 35-0.
The Cougars repeated their previous feat with another one-play touchdown two minutes later, when the Tigers muffed a punt attempt, and BYU sophomore safety Kai Nacua dove on the football at the Savannah State one. Stewart faked a handoff, rolled left and found senior receiver Jordan Leslie for the score. The ensuing extra point put the Cougars up 42-0, with Stewart accounting for all six touchdowns.
Seeing their first career snaps, freshmen McCoy Hill and Hunter Moore took over the reigns at quarterback with just over eight minutes left in the first half. They combined for a 10-play, 59-yard touchdown drive, with junior running back Nate Carter punching in a run from two yards out.
With 2:19 left in the half, BYU sophomore receiver David Kessler blocked a Savannah State punt. With the ball rolling back into the Tiger endzone and Kessler bearing down on it, Savannah State punter John Barron booted it out the back of the endzone for a safety, giving the Cougars a 51-0 lead, which they held at the half.
BYU kicker Trevor Samson made a 31-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter to give BYU a 54-0 lead. Two minutes later, Samson hit a 32-yard field goal to further increase the Cougars' lead.
Moore scored BYU's final touchdown, a 6-yard score on the ground with just over two minutes left in the game, giving BYU the 64-0 victory.
The Cougars' final game of the regular season is next Saturday against California in Berkeley.