BYU vs. Mississippi State Postgame Notes
This was the first overtime game BYU has played in since the 2014 bowl game against Memphis, when the Cougars lost 55-48 in double overtime. BYU last won an overtime game in 2009 in a 26-23 victory over Utah in LaVell Edwards Stadium. This is the lowest scoring BYU game to ever go into overtime. The previous low was a 16-16 game against SMU in 1997.
Tight end touchdowns
For the first time this season, a tight end caught a touchdown for the Cougars. Hunter Marshall had a 1-yard reception for the score at the end of the first quarter. In the second overtime, Tanner Balderee had a 25-yard touchdown.
BYU notched two more interceptions for 13 on the season. In the second quarter, Micah Hannemann had a pick and in the fourth quarter, Kai Nacua grabbed another interception. Entering this game, the Cougars were tied for 4th nationally.
The Cougar defense tallied a season-high nine tackles for loss in the win, surpassing the eight recorded against UCLA. BYU has now had at least four tackles for loss in every game this season.
Hill completed 16 of 28 passes with one interception and three touchdowns. This is the first time he has had three passing touchdowns since the season opener in 2014 when BYU beat UConn 35-10. Hill rushed for 53 yards and one touchdown in the game. He passed 2,500 career rushing yards, overtaking Luke Staley for No. 7 all time at BYU. He is also tied with Marc Wilson for No. 8 all time for career touchdowns responsible for with 68.
Bernard led all defenders with 16 total tackles, which marks a career high for the sophomore linebacker. He also had one tackle for loss.
In the first overtime, Williams’ 9-yard rush broke the BYU career rushing record held by Harvey Langi (3,455). He totaled 76 yards on 26 carries. Additionally, he passed Curtis Brown (641) for No. 2 in career rushing attempts, upping his total to 657.
Nacua tallied his fifth interception of the season in the fourth quarter. He was tied for first nationally in interceptions entering the game. It is the 13th pick of his career. Additionally, he was second on the team in total tackles with nine (six solo).
In this game, Tautu recorded 1.5 sacks. On the year, he is leading the team with 4.5 total sacks. Tautu increased his career sack total to 8.5. He also notched a career-high eight total tackles, a season-high 2.5 TFL and one pass breakup in the win.
Picked off his first interception of the season in the second quarter at the 14:06 mark. It was the third of his career. He also notched three tackles and two pass breakups.
Caught a 15-yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter to tie the game up 14-14. This was his second touchdown of the season and third of his career. He had 34 yards in the game.
Kicked a season-long punt for 62 yards in the third quarter. He pinned it inside the 20 at the 7-yard line. Linehan punted six times for 286 yards, averaging 47.7 yards per punt. He had four punts inside the 20-yard line.
Francis Bernard: Total tackles (16), solo tackles (13)
Sae Tautu: Total tackles (8)
Adam Pulsipher: Tackles for loss (1)
Hunter Marshall: Receiving TD (1)
Tanner Balderree: Receiving TD (1)
Merrill Taliauli: Tackle for loss (1)
Trajan Pili: Tackles for loss (2)
Andrew Mikkelsen: PATs (2)
FIRSTS (The following players recorded their first in a respective category)
Tackle for loss: Merrill Taliauli
PAT: Andrew Mikkelsen
BYU TEAM QUOTES
Head coach Kalani Sitake
It was a hard-fought game. I’ll give Mississippi State a lot of credit for what they did on defense. They really caused some issues for us in our coverage and exposed some of our discipline issues on defense. Overall, just really proud of the guys and the way they played. All of these games that are close, and they’re taking their toll.
On fourth-down plays
Just really happy that we made a play. There was a time when there was fourth and long early in the game and we couldn’t get out of it. Even some of the third down and long situations that we were in and we couldn’t make a play. We were just hoping that things would work our way. Our coverage was good, I think their quarterback made some great throws. I think the key was that Corbin (Kaufusi) came around the edge and was able to put some pressure on him and cause him to throw it. I’ve mentioned it before in weeks past that we wanted to be disruptive and force a bad throw, and fortunately it worked out in our favor for that one. The other ones we weren’t able to get much pressure on the quarterback. When they get to sit there and throw, it’s difficult for our DBs to defend the ball. Just really happy that it all worked out and that we got the win. Obviously, there are some things we need to work on and improve on because we don’t have much longer between now and the next game. We’ll be getting up tomorrow early and getting some work done for Boise State.
On Taysom Hill’s play
That was nice. It’d be nice if we could do that more often. Mississippi State did some good things on defense. I thought they were able to pressure us quite a bit and we didn’t make them pay with our coverage, but overall I thought Taysom did a good job of hanging in the pocket. He took a couple of shots. I wasn’t able to watch those roughing the passer calls, but he’s willing to take a shot and bide time enough to get guys open and deliver the ball. Sometimes it ends up that he pays the price for hanging in the pocket, but that’s what we’ve asked him to do. To stay in the pocket and find some space. He was able to get some scramble yards in there. There are some things we need to work on, but overall I was pleased with some of the stuff we saw from our O-line. They did some great things on defense. I don’t want to take anything away from Mississippi State, but I think we started to figure things out towards the end of the game.
On Jamaal Williams breaking the all-time BYU rushing record
I think if you had talked to him before he said he’d rather take the win over the record, so we were able to get both. I think they were trying to take him away from the game plan, and it worked for the most part. I think we were a couple of mistackles away from basically blowing up the run game and getting big yards. I’ll have to give them credit: they did make some plays. We had some free guys coming through and puncturing our line a little bit, which took away the run game. We’ll get better and watch the film. Right now we’ll celebrate the win and learn from some of the mistakes that we made.
On overtime strategy
We were at home and we just wanted to keep playing ball. It was a late-night game. I think for them it’s a late night also and we just kept playing. I’ve said before that these guys will keep playing until the clock says zero and it said zero. So, they played extra downs and I’m just really pleased with the resiliency of our players.
On fans rushing the field
The fans deserve the win. Some of the earlier losses we had were kind of heartbreakers. The leadership took over on this team, the coaches stuck with it and we were able to get some wins. We’ve built off of everything with some positive criticism. We’ve tried to motivate our players to keep going. It’s worked out so far and we’ll just try and keep riding this wave until we get to the next game.
On where the team’s at with the tough schedule
No, ahead of schedule would be undefeated. I’m just pleased of the way the guys played. We have not seen a letdown in the effort. When you have guys wanting to do everything they can to help the team win, you can really build on stuff like that and work on that foundation that’s already been set with these guys and the leadership that they already give you. So, we keep trying to put ourselves in positions to win games. Eventually it will turn to where we can put more big plays together in all three phases of the game and find ways to win games easier than these nail-biters we’ve had.
Senior RB Jamaal Williams
On becoming BYU’s all-time rusher
I’m grateful to get it. I have to give credit to all my linemen, tight ends, everyone who blocked for me in my career of rushing. Kudos to almost everyone out there—former linemen, linemen now. I’m grateful to get it. Honestly, I wish I could put them before my name because you can’t do it without the line; you can’t do it without everybody and their effort. I just wanted to say thank you and I appreciate it.
On student’s section’s support
I’m just grateful. I feel like I’m on “Taysom-level” now. I saw it in the heat of the moment, but it hit a warm spot in my heart to see the numbers up and the banner. It made me smile. But you have to get back in the game and finish it. Thanks to all the fans. I know it take tremendous effort to coordinate all of that.
Mississippi State’s defense
They’re a big defense. Their main focus was to keep me from going outside, and they did pretty well. So we started to go inside more and tried to make our shots from there. It was a tough game and we overcame it. I feel like we learned something. I feel like we grew as a team and offense. I’m grateful for my line for not giving up; they kept pushing.
Senior QB Taysom Hill
On the win
I think that’s been what our team has proven this entire season. We’re just resilient. When we have an obstacle and we need to get something done, we get it done. I was really impressed with our offensive line, the way they stepped up in overtime. I was impressed with how they ran the ball the way they did and how they stepped up and made plays when we needed to. It was a good win. We trust our defense. They played so well tonight so I wasn’t surprised at the result.
On the last touchdown
They ran into the late blitz and they had been doing that all game so I was prepared for it. It was so fun to get the ball to Tanner Balderree, and he worked so hard. Hats off to our guys down field who helped him get into the end zone.
On beating an SEC team
I echo what Kalani said: a win is a win. It was gratifying to win at home in double overtime. We certainly have respect for the SEC, their conference and what they do. We feel confident we can compete with anybody in the country. We don’t want to overstate the win, but it was a good win.
Senior DB Kai Nacua
On the victory
It was amazing. On defense, we did our thing. Everyone did their assignments the best they could and fought to the end. It was a big one for the program and for all of us on the team. We showed we can play with anybody. We’ve shown that all season long.
On the last play
My job was to read the quarterback and that’s exactly what I was doing. I was looking for receivers. I thought he was just going to run out of bounds. I saw the ball come out and Fred (Warner) made a play and the game was over. It was a huge lift off my shoulders. I was exhausted and I was ready to get off the field and go home.
Senior DL Sae Tautu
BYU’s defensive effort
I’m really proud of our boys. Everybody fought hard. It’s a tempo team; they go fast. It wore us down, so to have a bunch of guys fight as long as we did, I’m really proud of our guys.
Fans rushing as defense made the winning play
It was awesome. We like hitting people. We’re okay with the attention.
Importance of big stops
They were huge. They’re a tempo team, so we gathered they were tired. They fought for every inch. Sometimes you lose those battles and don’t get yards. To be able to have those guys making clutch plays, it’s a big deal. I don’t think people realized how tired we are when we’re out there making those plays. The effort that our guys put in is a special thing. It’s something we’re going to remember with our brothers forever, in our hearts forever.
Dancing in the locker room
It’s a blast. It’s party in the locker room. I love our coaching staff. It’s a lot of fun to see coaches that passionate about it.
Junior TE Tanner Balderree
Physicality of the game
They are a strong team. That was one of the biggest things that stood out from their play all year. They’re big. They were really good in their technique and so we had to overcome that and dig deep, use better technique and eventually get there. I think the altitude definitely affects everyone. I heard them talking a little bit about that; they had a hard time catching their breath. I think by the team they got to double overtime, they were worn down. But I also think our style of play, the offense that we run, really grinds down the team as well.
Hearing the play call in the huddle
I triple-checked that I definitely heard the play right to know what I’m doing, making sure I know my job, going over different scenarios with the coaches before I went out there so I knew I was ready for whatever they threw at us. I stepped in and Nick (Kurtz) had an amazing block that set it up for me to run the corner.
Emotion of getting in the end zone
I would have freaked out, but something kept me in perspective, knowing the game wasn’t over yet. Mississippi State still had to go out there, we may have to do it again. So I didn’t let myself get too far ahead. Then it was exciting. It was surreal. I didn’t know what to think at first when I walked in.
MISSISSIPPI STATE TEAM QUOTES
Head coach Dan Mullen
On penalties in the third quarter
Four personal fouls by one official in the same game. Very interesting. I’ve never seen that happen before.
On bouncing back from last week’s game
Well, we didn’t win. So I’m pleased with the effort they gave, but it went.
On what was said after the game
They played really hard and they played hard enough to win the game, we just didn’t do a good enough job as coaches to get them ready to make the plays they needed to win.
What was said after regulation
Go make the play to win the game. In overtime, every play is there to be made to win the game.
On quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s growth and maturity in this game
He made some plays at times to win the game and made some good plays to go and do it. That’s one of his strengths; that and the ability to make the play if the play breaks down and make something happen.
DB Mark McLaurin
On a strong defensive performance from both teams
We responded real well. We knew what type of a team they were, so we had to keep working and keep fighting and especially prepare for the run. We had to come in today with a different mindset.
On BYU's winning TD at the end of the game
We had called the right call and the coaches gave us a good play but we just missed a tackle and he made a good play for the score.
On his interception
Coach had being teach us the whole week about the pivot routes and the digs and at that time the coaches made a great call and I got the pivot route and made a play on the ball.
On the locker room atmosphere after the game
We just need to keep fighting. We played hard but we just didn't get the outcome that we wanted. Sometimes it just ends that way so we just have to keep going.
QB Nate Fitzgerald
On positives from tonight's game
I think we played a complete game tonight. Really we played more than a complete game tonight and that's something that I don't think we've done until now so it's something good to see. We just couldn't pull it out at the end.
On dropped pass in the end zone during 2 OT
Fred just beat his guy one-on-one. The safety had moved to the center of the field and I just tried to lay it out there for him but sometimes that's just how its happens.