RECAP: BYU routs UCF 49-23 in Boca Raton Bowl

Jon McBride | Posted: 13 Apr 2021 | Updated: 13 Apr 2021
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Players hold up the bowl trophy after the win
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BOCA RATON, Fla. — BYU football cruised to a 49-23 win over UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl Tuesday night at FAU Stadium.

Junior quarterback Zach Wilson led the Cougars (11-1) with a career-high 425 passing yards, setting a new Boca Raton Bowl record. Wilson threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions, completing 26 of his 34 attempts and adding another two scores on the ground.

Sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier led BYU’s rushing attack, racking up a career-high 173 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries. Senior running back Lopini Katoa added 21 yards on the ground on seven carries while junior receiver Gunner Romney had a six-yard rushing touchdown.

Eight different receivers hauled in passes from Wilson on the night, led by freshman tight end Isaac Rex who recorded 96 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Senior receiver Neil Pau’u added 86 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Katoa caught four passes for 90 yards. Junior receiver Dax Milne tallied a game-high seven catches for 70 yards and Allgeier had three receptions for 60 yards.

Sophomore linebacker Keenan Pili led the Cougar defense with nine tackles, including two solo stops, while senior linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi had eight tackles and junior linebacker Payton Wilgar had seven. Senior safeties Troy Warner and Zayne Anderson each recorded four tackles, including three solo stops, and one pass breakup apiece.

As a team, BYU racked up 655 total yards while the Knights (6-4) had 411. The Cougars jumped out to an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, scoring touchdowns on seven of their first eight drives of the game.


First Quarter Review

The Cougar offense picked up three first downs on its first three plays of the game, as an 11-yard reception by Pau’u followed by an 18-yard run and 43-yard catch by Allgeier brought BYU down to the UCF 15-yard line. Two plays later, Wilson found an opening on a quarterback draw and dove into the endzone, putting the Cougars up 7-0 less than two minutes into the contest.

After BYU’s defense then forced a Knight three-and-out, Wilson connected with Romney on the first play of the following drive for a 12-yard gain to the Cougar 40-yard line. Wilson then hit Pau’u for a 19-yard completion to bring BYU into Knight territory. Two plays later, the Cougars pulled off a double-reverse flea-flicker trick play as Wilson found a wide-open Isaac Rex for a 36-yard touchdown. The score gave BYU a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

The Cougar defense forced another UCF punt before Milne picked up a couple of first downs on receptions of 10 and 13 yards. Rex then hauled in a 15-yard pass from Wilson to put BYU in Knight territory. The Cougars couldn’t pick up another first down, however, and turned the ball over on downs at the UCF 38-yard line following an incomplete pass on fourth-and-two.

On the ensuing Knight possession, BYU’s defense forced a turnover on downs as Zac Dawe met UCF running back Greg McCrae in the backfield for a loss on fourth-and-one at the Cougar 23-yard line. Wilson and company capitalized, as Katoa took a pass from Wilson 34 yards up field on the first play of the following drive. A Knight targeting penalty on Katoa put BYU at the UCF 27-yard line. Wilson then hit Pau’u inside the Knight 15-yard line before running in for a 4-yard score two plays later, putting the Cougars up 21-0.

  • Wilson’s two first-quarter touchdown runs gave him 10 rushing touchdowns on the season and moved him into a tie for No. 2 in the nation in rushing touchdowns among quarterbacks. He entered the game ranked No. 5 among quarterbacks for the most rushing touchdowns in 2020
  • Rex’s touchdown catch was his 11th of the year, moving him to No. 4 in the nation among all players and No. 2 among tight ends behind Florida’s Kyle Pitts
  • Thirteen of BYU’s 24 first quarter plays resulted in gains of 10 or more yards

Second Quarter Review

UCF opened the second quarter with a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped off with a 5-yard touchdown run by McCrae, bringing the score to 21-7 for BYU.

The Cougars responded, as Allgeier ran 24 yards on the opening play of the ensuing drive to the Knight 44-yard line. Katoa picked up a first down four plays later on an 18-yard catch from Wilson to the UCF 31-yard line. Two plays later, Wilson hit a wide-open Rex down the seam for a 27-yard touchdown, increasing BYU’s lead to 28-7.

Following another Knight punt, Wilson found Milne and Katoa for back-to-back 8-yard gains, bringing the Cougars to their own 35-yard line. Wilson then lofted a pass on the run for Katoa, who laid out to make an impressive diving catch at the UCF 35-yard line. Wilson hit Pau’u with a 35-yard bullet pass in the endzone on the following play, giving BYU a 35-7 advantage.

The Knights then drove down to the Cougar 18-yard line before pressure from Max Tooley forced quarterback Dillon Gabriel to throw the ball away on third down. Kicker Daniel Obarski then split the uprights on a 35-yard field goal attempt, bringing the score to 35-10 for BYU at the break.

  • Rex’s second-quarter touchdown was his 12th of the year, tying him for No. 3 in the nation among all players. It also tied him for No. 1 among tight ends with Florida’s Kyle Pitts
  • Allgeier broke the 1,000 rushing yard mark on the year in the second quarter, becoming only the 16th Cougar to ever run for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Jamaal Williams had 1,408 in 2016
  • Wilson’s touchdown pass to Pau’u was his 33rd of the season, moving him past Mac Jones of Alabama to rank No. 2 in the nation overall
  • Wilson set a BYU bowl record with 330 passing yards in the first half, which is also the No. 4 most passing yards in a first half in program history

Third Quarter Review

The Cougar defense forced a quick UCF three-and-out and BYU’s offense started its first drive of the second half at midfield. Rex hauled in an 11-yard catch before Allgeier found a wide-open hole up the middle and ran 39 yards into the endzone on the following play. The score put BYU up 42-10 less than two minutes into the half.

After another Knight three-and-out, the Cougar offense took over from its own 33-yard line. Wilson connected with Milne and Rex on back-to-back plays for gains of 15 and 7 yards, bringing BYU to the UCF 48-yard line. The Cougar offensive line opened up a wide-open running lane two plays later for Allgeier, who rushed 17 yards to the Knight 25-yard line. Three plays later and following a UCF pass interference call, Romney took the ball on an end-around play and ran six yards into the endzone, giving BYU a 49-10 lead.

Both teams proceeded to turn the ball over on downs before the Knights used an 8-play, 68-yard drive to cut into the Cougars’ lead, 49-17.

  • BYU’s defense forced eight straight incomplete UCF passes in the third quarter
  • Allgeier passed the 100 rushing yard mark in the quarter. He now has six 100+ rushing yard games this year, including the last four games he has played
  • Romney’s touchdown run was his first rushing score of the year and his third touchdown overall in 2020
  • Wilson set the Boca Bowl passing yards record in the third quarter. The previous record was 372 from Memphis’ Riley Furgeson in 2016
  • Through three quarters, BYU made 29 first downs on 56 total plays

Fourth Quarter Review

Following a BYU punt, the Cougars’ first of the game, UCF marched 82 yards in 14 plays and scored on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Gabriel to receiver Jaylon Robinson. The Knights failed to convert their ensuing two-point conversion attempt, keeping the score at 49-23 for the Cougars with 7:53 left in the game.

BYU drove 65 yards in 10 plays on its ensuing possession down to the UCF 4-yard line, highlighted by a couple of rushing first downs by Allgeier and a 16-yard third-down completion from Wilson to Milne. With just over a minute left in the game, Wilson took three straight knees to run out the clock and secure the 49-23 Cougar win.

  • BYU set the Boca Bowl record for most total yards, breaking the previous record by Western Kentucky of 598 in 2016
  • Wilson now has two 400 yard passing games this year after passing for exactly 400 yards against Houston

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