BOISE, Idaho – Despite the defense forcing five turnovers, BYU football’s comeback effort fell short 28-27 at No. 14 Boise State on Thursday night.
In the final drive of the game, BYU attempted a 44-yard field goal for the win but Rhett Almond’s attempt on second down was blocked. The Cougars recovered the blocked kick to try to win the game. Taysom Hill threw the ball into the end zone on a final attempt but it went incomplete as time expired.
BYU drops to 4-4 on the year as Broncos remain undefeated at 7-0 (3-0 Mountain West Conference). The Cougar defense forced five turnovers, including two pick-sixes in the contest, but the offense was able to score just three points when the possession was returned to them. Boise State had 571 total yards to BYU’s 322.
On the defense, Sae Tautu led the team with nine total tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. Butch Pau’u also had nine tackles to go along with his 0.5 sacks and 0.5 tackles for loss. Fred Warner and Dayan Lake each recorded an interception for a touchdown. Warner filled out the stat sheet with seven total tackles and a forced fumble to go along with the interception. Freshman Lake had a well-rounded game as well, earning eight tackles, including five solo stops. There were also three fumble recoveries, recovered by Troy Warner, Handsome Tanielu and Zayne Anderson.
Hill completed 21 of 41 passes for 187 yards. He also rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Squally Canada rushed a career-high 88 yards on 21 carries. Nine different BYU receivers caught a pass in the game, led by Mitchell Juergens’ four catches for 57 yards.
The Broncos struck early in the game. They scored touchdowns on their first two drives to take the early 14-0 lead over the Cougars.
Boise State was on the verge of scoring again, but the BYU defense held tough, bringing out the field goal team. On the attempt, Corbin Kaufusi blocked the kick, deflecting it right into Kai Nacua’s arms. Nacua returned the ball 25 yards to set up the offense in good position.
To start the second quarter, BYU finished off the drive started by the blocked field goal. The Cougars ended up settling for a 35-yard field goal from Almond, putting them on the board, 10-3.
In Boise State’s ensuing drive, the defense turned the tide once again. Fred Warner picked off the Broncos’ quarterback Brett Rypien, returning it 59 yards for a pick-six, the first of the season for the Cougars. With 14:22 to play until the half, BYU made it a four-point game, 14-10.
Backed into their own end zone, the Cougars were set up for the punt, but Jonny Linehan ran on a fake punt but it was snuffed out by BSU. He was tackled on the 2-yard line, turning the ball over on downs. After a 15-yard penalty on the Broncos, the defense held them to a field goal attempt, which missed to keep the score at 14-10.
BYU’s defense came up with another big play with less than five minutes to go in the half. Off a tipped pass, Lake snagged it and returned a second interception for a touchdown. The freshman took the pick 50 yards down the field into the end zone to give the Cougars their first lead of the game, 17-14.
Nacua had another big defensive play in the Broncos’ next drive. He forced a fumble that was recovered by Handsome Tanielu. BYU’s offense was unable to capitalize on the turnover, giving the ball back to Boise State after an attempted fourth-down conversion failed.
With 35 seconds until the break, the Broncos scored on a 36-yard pass to head into the locker room back on top, 21-17.
In the third quarter, a big defensive play sparked BYU once again. With Boise State going for the fourth down conversion, Tautu sacked the quarterback, forcing a turnover on downs.
The offense took over from there, marching down the field. Hill found Juergens for a 33-yard diving catch just short of the end zone. The 1-yard rushing touchdown from Hill put the Cougars up 24-21 with 6:55 on the clock.
With less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, Linehan punted the ball away, but the ball was fumbled by Boise State’s returner. Anderson recovered the ball, but the BYU offense ended up punting again.
In the following series, the Broncos fumbled the ball again. Fred Warner forced the ball loose and Troy Warner recovered it, bringing the offense back out to start the fourth quarter. The Cougars were held to just a field goal, a 37-yarder from Almond that pushed the lead up to 27-21 with 13:33 left in the game.
After a 46-yard pass, Boise State responded, scoring on a 4-yard rush with 10:37 to play to take the 28-27 lead over BYU. When the Cougar offense could not convert on third down, they punted the ball back to the Broncos, who drained four minutes off the clock.
Hill and the offense got the ball back with 2:16 to go in the game. BYU marched down the field for a final comeback effort. With 15 seconds left, Almond attempted a 44-yard field goal on second down that was blocked by Boise State. The Cougars still had a chance since Juergens recovered it facing a 3 and 25 with 10 seconds to play. After an incomplete pass, Hill attempted the Hail Mary, but it went incomplete.
BYU will have a bye next week before traveling to face Cincinnati on Nov. 5. Game time and broadcast details have yet to be released.