BYU increased its turnover total to 29 on the year with a fumble recovery and an interception. The Cougars were No. 3 nationally coming into tonight’s game. Additionally, the defense has recorded at least one interception in every game in 2016, the first time that has happened since 2001.
The Cougar defense held the Aggies to a season-low 200 yards of offense. This was the second lowest a BYU opponent has had the season, the lowest coming against Southern Utah (165 yards). The previous low for Utah State was 252 against San Diego State. For rushing defense, the Aggies had 97 rushing yards, the sixth game under 100 for the Cougar defense and the fourth consecutive game.
This was BYU’s seventh game this season with over 200 rushing yards. It is the second game in a row over 200, third of the last four.
For the first time since last year’s matchup between the Cougars and Aggies, BYU returned a fumble for a touchdown. With 2:50 left in the second quarter, Michael Shelton picked up the fumble caused by Logan Taele and ran 52 yards into the end zone.
New coach, winning record
Kalani Sitake ensures he is one of six new FBS head coaches that could have a winning record in their first season. BYU finishes the regular season 8-4, notching at least eight wins for the fourth year in a row and fifth time in the last six years.
November winning streak
With this win, BYU is 36-6 in the month of November over the past 10 seasons, including a perfect 20-0 at home during that time. The Cougars have not lost at home in November since 2005 when they fell 41-34 to Utah.
Williams went over 3,600 career rushing yards in the win after tallying 131 yards on 18 carries. His 18 carries gives him 700 career attempts, the first player in BYU history to reach 700, passing Harvey Unga’s 696 for the most in school history. He had his 11th rushing touchdown of the season in the second quarter, his first since Michigan State. This is also his 15th 100-yard rushing game in his career, which ties Harvey Unga and Curtis Brown for a school record. The senior is No. 7 at BYU for rushing yards in a single season with 1,165.
With less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, Warner picked off Aggies quarterback Kent Myers, It was the third of the season and sixth of his career. He tied for the lead in total tackles with six, including two solo stops. He also notched a pass breakup.
With his touchdown pass in the third quarter, Hill had his 75th combined touchdown (43 passing, 32 rushing), which breaks a tie with Steve Young for fifth in BYU history. He also passed Jim McMahon for No. 4 for total offense in a career at BYU with 9,744. In the win, he eclipsed 2,800 career rushing yards with 46 on 12 attempts.
The senior wide receiver had a season-long 35-yard reception at the end of the first quarter. He finished with 50 receiving yards to lead the team.
At the 2:50 mark in the second quarter, Shelton scooped up a fumble and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown. It was his first touchdown and fumble recovery.
Juergens caught his second touchdown of the season in the third quarter with 2:19 left. It was his first since West Virginia back on Sept. 24.
Garrett Juergens: Receiving yards (12)
FIRSTS (The following players recorded their first in a respective category)
BYU TEAM QUOTES
Head coach Kalani Sitake
Obviously we’re happy with the win. It was not a perfect game, but I’m happy with the result. Utah State came out, played and was motivated to win. We had some issues that had we taken care of, it would have been cleaner for us earlier in the game. I liked the way we played in the second half, specifically on defense. We did a great job making some adjustments. Offensively, we need to find a way to end drives and put on points. Other than that, we’ll see how everyone progresses from here in preparation for the bowl game.
Injury update on Taysom
It’s his elbow but no fracture, but we’ll look at an MRI and get more details on his injury on Monday.
He’s a competitor and obviously whenever he’s using his legs, he’s a lot more dangerous. Being able to do that a little bit more in the second half was good for us. To be a great quarterback, you’re going to have to make some throws. I think one of them was tipped and one was a bad throw. Once we started doing a little bit of our no-huddle stuff, he seemed a lot more comfortable in our offense. We were to get some drives and first downs. We got some favorable penalty calls for us, but that’s the way the game goes. I liked the fact that our guys were aggressive, making those throws and taking those shots, it’s really important for us to feel comfortable and make the right plays.
The first drive was a little disappointing, but you have to give a lot of credit to coach Wells. They were able to get some throws out, make some runs and good blocks downfield. They had a couple of big plays that hurt us. As soon as we were focused on doing our assignments, we got some turnovers eventually. I think it showed up in the second half. We had to be a little bit patient. It was very similar to what we’ve done the past 3-4 weeks. Making those adjustments at halftime have been really nice. It’s a huge compliment to what Ilaisa Tuiaki is doing as a coordinator, and Steve Kaufusi, Jernaro Gilford and Ed Lamb being able to make those changes. The goal is to start the first half like we do the second half. We have some time now to prepare for the bowl game. We look forward to that being our goal.
Emotions on senior night
What’s great about the seniors is they found the motivation to play for people other than themselves. They wanted to play for other seniors, other teammates, for the fans, and especially for Reno (Mahe) and his family and the hardships they’re going through. I love the way they function and the senior leadership has been huge for us. They’ve played some really important football games in the last 4-5 years and so they’ve done some great things for this program. There isn’t a selfish bone in their bodies. It’s awesome as a head coach to see them to lead, sacrifice and care about other people. It’s been refreshing for me to see.
Jamaal made an emotional presentation to Reno in the locker room with the game ball. I think it’s been hard on the family and definitely hard on our football family. I know Reno wants to focus on the seniors and the team, but it was beautiful to hear Jamaal speak so emotionally about the team and how connected he is to this program, and then to give the game ball to Reno and his family. I love seeing our players have so much charity in their hearts for others. These young men have reached out in the community to a lot of people that have had a lot of hardships in life and they’re just trying to help them out and do it while they’re playing football.
Progress of the program this year
I think we’ve improved quite a bit. The goal was to get better every week and obviously when you win games, it looks better. It became a lot more comfortable and the seniors have been key to it. They’ve been able to help the undergrads come along. It’s going to be huge for us and our progress from here on out. Their willingness to lead by example—they just bought into whatever we asked them to do. I think we are a much closer team and they know what to expect from all the coaches, myself and the coordinators. The comfort level is there. We love each other. When you love the people you’re with and you love what you’re doing and what you represent, you can do a lot of things.
Senior RB Jamaal Williams
Last regular-season game
It’s always great going out there and playing football, just being with your family and your brothers. I’m grateful for them to play last game with everything they had with a whole bunch of effort. I’m just grateful to be on this team and have teammates like that.
I was just grateful to be here. I’m grateful for fans and everything they’ve done to support through ups and downs and trials. This place is one of kind. It has one of kind people that care about you and want to see you succeed. I knew I was going to come back. It’s just what I do. I stay loyal to what I do and I finish what I start. I’m just grateful for everybody, when I came back, with open arms to be a part of the team again. Trials are nothing, it`s just another struggle. You keep grinding, you got to stay humble and do what you do to get over it.
Evaluation on the season
I feel like we started off a little slow. It was a new offense and a new system, but once we got in a rhythm we started picking things up and finishing strong. That’s what I really wanted our team to do. My expectations for the team were high. I wanted to be good, I wanted to be great. We had to start thinking and playing like that. Whatever I can to motive them, and now I’ve been doing it so much it got contagious and everyone else is doing it now.
There are a lot of great players and I’m grateful to play with them. I’m grateful for the way they played this whole season and our whole career. The things they went through too is unbelievable. I’m grateful to be on a team that knows what struggle is and work through it and get to success. I’m grateful to be with them and learn from them and learn from me. I’m grateful to have a whole bunch of players from different backgrounds. I love them and they will forever be my brothers way after football is done.
I walked on four years ago, and it’s just been a dream come true these past for years. I’m glad we went out tonight and we were able to string together a win on senior night.
Progress on the team this season
As we continued to go throughout the season we just began to mesh, and we became closer and closer as team. On the field and off the field, I think both are vital to having success on Saturdays. I think this team has a very bright future and I’m excited for them. I’m excited to watch them next season.
Evaluation of this season
It’s been an awesome season and a lot of fun, but there’s been a couple games where we fell short and we were a little disappointed about that. I think if a lot of little things went our way it would have been a different season, but we kept moving forward to the next game. We’re bowling and we’re looking forward to San Diego.
Senior DL Logan Taele
It was fourth down and I was trying to penetrate, but I fell on my face. I noticed that the quarterback got stood up and the ball was right there, so I attacked it. It was pretty cool to run with my teammates to the end zone.
For me, it’s very sentimental. I walked on five years ago and I got cut. All I wanted to do was play in this stadium. Now I’ve been here and I’ve played a lot. I wanted to go out with a bang and make my teammates proud and my family proud and the fans.
Sophomore QB Tanner Mangum
Thoughts when he saw Taysom go down
It was super sad to see a friend go down. We obviously feel bad. Instinct kicks, you grab your helmet and go play. Then after the game, we talked about it. We hate to see a friend go down. I don’t know what happened or what’s going to happen.
I was cold and had to come in and do the best I could. I struggled a little bit for a couple plays, dropped a snap. I had to get the blood going a little bit. On the play, we made progressions and they did a good job covering it. I had to improvise a little bit and Colby (Pearson) did a good job of getting back to the pylon and made a good catch. Credit to Colby for making the play.
There were a lot of emotions going. There was definitely a different feeling the locker room after the game with all that’s going on with the seniors, the Mahe family, Taysom’s injury. A lot of emotions there. It’s cool to see how close-knit of a group we are.
UTAH STATE TEAM QUOTES
Head coach Matt Wells
First of all, congratulations to BYU. Kalani Sitake and his staff have a really good team. It is a really good football team that has played good football this year. I thought our kids came out emotional, they fought, they competed—didn’t play well at times, but competed—and they cared. The bottom line is that we got to the second half and we couldn’t convert third downs and they did. We got behind the chains and had third and long, and we couldn’t convert on third downs. Credit to BYU—third down football. That’s a big key. I am not sure if there is much more than that except in the first half when it was disappointing to get turnovers, for the first time in quite a while. And we weren’t able to capitalize on that in touchdown form early on in the game to really get a lead, and change their game plan. But, I am proud of those kids. It is a disappointing season, it is frustrating, especially to lose as many close games in the Mountain West as we did, but those kids fought, and we will absolutely build off that. There are things that need to get addressed and corrected, and we’ll certainly go through that in the offseason. But, they fought. And that is half the battle.
On the group of seniors
I think the biggest thing is that they stayed true. They stayed loyal to the Aggie brotherhood, and they played they butts off. They competed. It’s hard for us as adults, but they are young men. And when you are losing close games, it’s hard. But, they stayed true. They fought, they competed, they cared and they continued to lead the younger guys. That’s important for our program, and that’s also important for them as individuals and their character. I think the coaches and the underclassmen see what kind of legacy they are going to leave. It wasn’t the season we wanted, how we wanted to send them out, but the way they fought, persevered and had courage, they did a lot of things right. We just didn’t win a lot of games down the stretch.
On his season
The bottom line is we lost 5 games by 29 points in the Mountain West, and it started with Air Force. You have to win your share of close games. Coach Sitake and I were talking about that. Them and us in close games. You’ve got to find ways to win. That creates more confidence and momentum and a little bit of that mojo. I think that helps you in the next close game.
Junior DB Dallin Leavitt
I thought in the first half we did a good job. They were hitting us a little bit, but we made some adjustments and slowed the running game down. I thought our DBs and secondary played really well. We played a lot of man coverage and left them on a lot of islands and I feel like they did a really good job taking care of their men and doing what they were supposed to do. Second half we lost a little bit of the momentum and they hit us a couple times on some runs. Our DBs played their butts off and played hard. Our whole defense did the same.
Coming back and playing at this field
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little weird at first. This senior class is the class I came in with, so I know a lot of the guys and I respect a ton of those guys. They are great football players. It was a unique experience to come back here. I enjoyed it.
Words with Taysom Hill
I told him to get healthy. When I was at BYU, Taysom was somebody who looked out for me and helped me a lot. He’s just as good of a person as he is a player. I respect Taysom a ton and wish him to get healthy.
Honestly it felt good. Being dinged up all season I finally felt good this game for the first time in a long time. The reason I feel it was more satisfying is because of all the time we put in during the week. We watched a lot of film and we knew exactly what they were going to run and I was able to read his eyes.
Senior TE Wyatt Houston
How offense played
I think we came out fast, but we shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties and some fumbles. Overall we started out fast and ran the football well. In the end things just didn’t go our way.
On football being over
Right now it’s a little emotional but same time it hasn’t hit me that it’s over. Come Monday I’m just a student I have to finish school and that’s it. It will be weird, but life moves on.
On season overall
As a team we just didn’t get enough wins. The ball just didn’t bounce our way.