"It was another nail-biter," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. "I'm glad we got the win. There are obviously some things we need to fix, but it's good to be on the winning side of a close game."
Williams broke the BYU (2-3) single-game rushing record with 286 yards on the ground and had five rushing touchdowns to tie a school record. The previous single-game rushing record, held by Eldon Fortie, was set in 1962.
A Toledo (3-1) touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:11 on the game clock gave the Rockets a 53-52 lead and set up Taysom Hill, Williams and the Cougar offense up for its game-winning drive. Almond's kick went right down the middle to give BYU the win.
The Cougars and Rockets traded blows in the first quarter, as BYU took a 21-14 advantage.
Hill completed his longest career pass on the Cougars’ first play from scrimmage for a 75-yard touchdown to Jonah Trinnaman, who scored his first BYU touchdown.
Williams pounded out two touchdowns on the ground for the Cougars’ other two scores.
A BYU defensive highlight in the first quarter was Dayan Lake’s interception, which came after Harvey Langi tipped a Toledo pass. Lake returned it 49 yards to the Rocket 13-yard line to set up one of Williams’ touchdowns.
The only scoring strike of the second quarter came halfway through, as Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside connected with Corey Jones for a 26-yard touchdown completion to tie the game at 21-21.
The third quarter was similar to the first, as both teams scored multiple times. The Rockets connected on two touchdown passes and made a field goal. BYU found the end zone twice, as Williams rumbled for touchdowns from 48 and 62 yards out.
Three quarters through, Williams had his first career game with four rushing touchdowns. The Cougars trailed 38-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Squally Canada scored his first BYU touchdown on a 17-yard rush. That gave the Cougars a 42-38 lead with 13:20 on the clock.
Toledo responded with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Woodside to Cody Thompson. With 10:57 left, it put the Rockets up 45-42.
Rhett Almond squared the score at 45-45 with a 32-yard field goal for BYU with 5:21 left in the game.
On the following drive, Kai Nacua intercepted a pass from Woodside returned it 20 yards to the Rocket 21-yard line. It was Nacua’s fourth interception on the season and the 12th of his career.
Williams punched in his fifth touchdown of the night and broke Fortie’s record with three minutes left in the game. His 14-yard carry gave BYU a 52-45 lead.
That set up the Toledo drive, with Woodside connecting with Kareem Hunt for a seven-yard touchdown and Michael Roberts for the two-point conversion to make it 53-52 with just over a minute to go.
On the Cougars' final drive Hill completed a 33-yard pass to Colby Pearson and ran for 11 yards as part of eight plays and 71 yards that set up Almond's game-winner.
BYU next travels to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 3:30 p.m. EDT. That game will be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2, with a radio broadcast available on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143), KSL 1160 AM and 102.7 FM.
Cougars host Rockets on Friday
PROVO, Utah – BYU football looks to bounce back against Toledo at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday night. The game will kickoff at 8:15 p.m. MDT on ESPN2.
Live coverage will be on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can also be found on Sirius XM 143, 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and BYUcougars.com. IMG’s radio coverage will begin at 6:15 p.m. MDT.
BYU (1-3) vs. Toledo (3-0)
Friday, Sept. 30, 2016
Kickoff: 8:21 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,470)
BYU Game Notes
SERIES HISTORY. BYU and Toledo are meeting for the first time in the history of the two programs.
MAC. BYU is facing an opponent from the Mid-American Conference for the first time this year. A MAC opponent makes for the third different conference the Cougars have had opponents from in 2016. BYU has faced the Pac-12 and Big 12 to start the year. BYU is 5-4 against the MAC.
COMBINED RECORD. The combined record for BYU’s first five opponents including Toledo is 14-4 with Arizona (2-2), Utah (4-0), UCLA (2-2), West Virginia (3-0), Toledo (3-0).
OPPONENT BYE WEEKS. For the second consecutive week, BYU is facing a team coming off of a bye week with Toledo. This is the second of three teams the Cougars will face that are coming off of a bye. West Virginia and Toledo had bye weeks and UMass will have a week off prior to facing BYU.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS. Jamaal Williams has been named the College Sports Madness Independent Player of the Week. Williams rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries against the Mountaineers.
WHITEOUT. BYU will be wearing all white against the Rockets for a home whiteout.
TAG TEAM, BACK AGAIN. In 2013 when both played a full season, Taysom Hill (1,344) and Jamaal Williams (1,233) combined for 2,577 rushing yards. Through four games, the pair has combined for 642 yards (417 for Williams and 225 for Hill). They both rushed for 100 yards in the same game (West Virginia-Williams 169, Hill 105) for the first time since Sept. 11, 2014 against Houston. Hill ran for 160 and Williams ran for 139 in a 33-25 win. BYU had been 4-0 when both run for 100 before the Mountaineers.
TURNOVERS GAINED. The Cougars are ranked fourth in the nation in turnovers gained with 11 total this season. Seven of those turnovers have come from interceptions.
The following quotes are from Monday's post-practice media availability.
Head coach Kalani Sitake
On watching West Virginia film
There’s still a lot of room to improve, but I think every coach says that after every game. We saw some really good positives and some negatives that we need to fix. If we can put it all together and have a clean game, we’ll be a lot more successful. I’ve said it before, but we need to have our best game this weekend. It needs to happen. A lot of people are impatient, but trust me, we are a lot more impatient as a coaching staff for our players. We want to get our best out there. It’s always tough losing close games. You want to evaluate everything and go through it with a fine-tooth comb and try to find ways to get wins. Our team is used to close games. You just have to find ways to win games. In order for us to not come down to one or two plays at the end of the game, we need to be more consistent throughout.
On the offense
There is no secret going into the season that we needed Jamaal (Williams) to be ready and that we needed to put a lot of the load on him. He did some good things running the ball. Taysom (Hill) did some great things running the ball as well. The run game was there. The offensive line blocked a lot better and did some good things with pass protection as well. We just need to be consistent. The biggest improvement we need to make on offense is scoring touchdowns instead of having to settle for field goals. That’s going to be the key for us.
Thoughts about Toledo
They are a well-coached team. They play hard, and they’re really efficient offensively and defensively. It’s another tough opponent, and we respect what they do as a team. They’ve never had a close game. They blew out their previous three opponents, so we’re expecting a team who is used to having success offensively and defensively, and we’ll have to be ready. We want to make sure we’re prepared. We look forward to being back home. I’m glad we’re home for this game and it’ll be a huge advantage for us.
On Travis Tuiloma
He felt comfortable getting in the game, but we’ll see how it goes this week with one less day to recover. We’ll figure it out. It was nice to have him out on the field and hopefully he’ll increase reps. He looked good, but he’s still rusty. Those were the first live reps he’s had in a long time, but you can see there is a lot of explosive power in his movement.
Thoughts about the short week
I’m actually excited, and I know our players are excited to just get on the field again. It’s one less day to wait. The guys are chomping at the bit and they want to play well. As long as we show more poise and do what we’re supposed to and trust each other, we’ll be fine.
On the season so far
This season being 1-3 right now has brought our team closer than ever. This is one of the closest teams I have ever been a part of. Nothing is going to divide this group. We’ve lost some close ones, but we have to power to make a change. Our guys are preparing hard to make sure we play our best game. I have to give a lot of credit to the players, their leadership and their willingness to help keep this team close. We saw a lot of great things from our leaders during the game this past week and that’s going to be huge for us to build upon this weekend.
On the receivers
They played well. All the talk about man coverage was difficult for them to take, and they’re guys that have a lot of pride too. Their coach wants to make sure they do well. But I was really impressed with the receivers and how they played. They got some separation, and obviously we want to make more plays when the ball is up for grabs, but we’ll keep working on that. I liked that they blocked down field and the effort was there.
On Taysom’s performance
He’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable running the ball. You can see he’s starting to trust his foot and come back with his vision of the field and finding grass. I was really impressed with the things he did, and for a quarterback to run for as many yards as he did, that’s difficult to do. He’s going to keep doing that, and we’ll keep relying on him to do things with his feet and hopefully his arm.
Senior QB Taysom Hill
On overall performance
I think overall, we executed and that’s kind of what we’ve been talking about throughout the course of this season, that we need to execute at a higher level and I think we did a better job outside, recognizing man and zone. Our receivers did a great job of recognizing that and winning the one-on-one and man-to-man matchups, which allowed me to get the ball out on time and we saw a lot of productivity.
They did great. Everything starts up there and anytime you can rush the ball for over 250 yards, it’s a great day. And again, it all starts up front. We wouldn’t have been able to have the productivity that did without the way those guys blocked and they were taking right steps, keying the right guys. And they played a really great game.
It’s actually pretty good given the circumstances. I think we all realize that we’re one or two plays in each of these games away from potentially being 4-0, easily being 3-1. And we all love each other. We all trust and respect one another, so we still have a lot to play for and we want to go out and be successful for one another as a team. And that’s definitely the vibe from everybody.
Strides the offense made against West Virginia
We played really well. Again, we executed and I think it gives us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season that if we execute and we run our routes the way we’re supposed to, we get the ball in on time and we protect it, we’re going to be really difficult to stop. And that’s our mentality going into it. We expect to continue to do that week in and week out.
Sophomore LB Francis Bernard
Takeaway from West Virginia game
I think we definitely could have done better when they took some shots. It’s a win-lose situation—the very aggressive defense we run is put in one-on-one situations and sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But I thought we did well. There’s a lot of improvement to make.
Pass-rushing against West Virginia and what Toledo will take away from the game
Going back and watching the film, we did a pretty good job pass-rushing. They exploited throwing to the bubbles and kind of throwing to the underneath routes, which is something we didn’t expect going into this game. From that, I think Toledo is going to try to continue to spread us out, throw those bubbles, and throw hitches those quick going into this game.
What the defense is specifically trying to improve on at this point in the season
Playing a full game. There are certain times during the game where the offense goes down and scores. We need to do a better job of responding back to that and getting a stop and putting the offense in a better spot and better situation. This game’s offense definitely did their part and so defense needs to do theirs now.
Senior DL Logan Taele
On the play of the defensive line
I feel like we’ve done well. We just have to keep working on making big plays up front. I feel like we’re getting better at collapsing the pocket. We’re making some assignment errors here and there so we’ll be working on the little things.
On what needs to happen to improve the pass rush
I feel like they’ve given us more freedom with what we’re able to do, but we’re still just thinking too much. We’re thinking too much about what we need to do rather than just doing it and reacting. Hopefully we can get everyone comfortable with where they’re at and trust each other and just go after it together and be more of an impact up front.
On the coaches’ approach to motivate the team after losses
It’s just pushing for our leadership to stand up and take charge of this team. I think the coaches are there and they’re helping to prod us and push us and motivate us. I hope we as leaders on the team and captains or impact players can take the leadership role and keep the team up.
On moving on from losses with such close margins of defeat
It’s always hard when you lose by close margins like two or one or three. I think we took it hard against Utah. But it’s something where we just have to keep moving forward. We can’t give up. I’ve felt personally that I need to step up and help motivate and be a cheerleader and help pick everyone up. That’s why this past game on the sideline, I was screaming the whole time, trying to keep everyone up especially as we came back from that 16-point deficit and with that last drive we had to make it count.