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.
PROVO, Utah – Riding a three-game winning streak, BYU football heads north to No. 14 Boise State to face the Broncos at Albertsons Stadium on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live on ESPN.
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.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage of the matchup, beginning with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 7 p.m. MDT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game on BYUtv.
BYU (4-3) at No. 14 Boise State (6-0, 3-0 Mountain West)
Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016
Kickoff: 8:21 p.m. MDT
Albertsons Stadium (36,387)
SERIES HISTORY. Last year, BYU defeated the Broncos 35-24 in Provo to give the Cougars a record of 2-4 in the series. Mitchell Juergens caught a touchdown pass from Tanner Mangum on fourth down with 45 seconds to play, putting BYU up 28-24. A Kai Nacua pick-six on BSU’s last drive put an exclamation point on a 35-24 win. The Broncos won the last meeting in Boise 55-30 in 2014 when BSU went on to the Fiesta Bowl.
MOUNTAIN WEST. BYU is facing an opponent from the Mountain West, marking the sixth different conference BYU has faced in 2016. The team has already played games against the Pac-12, Big 12, MAC, Big Ten and SEC. BYU was member of the conference from 1999 to 2010 and went 64-26 in the league, winning the title three times.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS. Jamaal Williams became BYU’s all-time leading rusher against Mississippi State with 3,468 career rushing yards. He passed Harvey Unga (3,455) for the top mark. He has 942 rushing yards this season after seven games, No. 2 nationally in total rushing yards.
IDAHO CONNECTION. BYU has five Idaho players on the roster, including quarterbacks Taysom Hill (Pocatello), Tanner Mangum (Eagle) and Hayden Livingston (Rigby). Wideout Colby Pearson (Blackfoot) and defensive back Sam Baldwin (Rexburg) are also from the Gem State.
PINK GAME. BYU will be particpating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month by adding some pink to its look against the Broncos. Just as it has for one game the last few years in October, the team will add pink tape, cleats, gloves and other accessories to help raise awareness of the disease.
RANKED OPPONENTS. Boise State is ranked No. 14 in both the AP and Coaches polls, marking the first opportunity for BYU to play a ranked team this year. BYU is 7-16 against ranked teams since 2005.
Head coach Kalani Sitake
Lessons from team on Friday
The film was really good for us to learn from. Mississippi State has a lot of really great athletes. I know their record doesn’t show it as well as they want to, but they’re well-coached and have great athletes. They’re trying to find their identity. We’ve been there before. We didn’t do as well as I thought we would. I think we had some mistakes here and there, specifically on the offensive side. Defensively, we were able to bend a little bit and get out of some drives. I’d like to get out of drives earlier. But they stuck with it. And on the last play of the game, they were able to get out of that. I’m pleased with the guys and the resilient attitude that they have; they keep playing. They’re having a lot of fun. We’ve got great leadership and we’re looking forward to this next game.
Previous experiences going against Boise State when coaching at Utah
They’re well-coached. It seems like they have coaches all over the place. I’ve known their coaching staff. They’ve gone to so many different places, different programs. Coach (Bryan) Harsin’s great, a great coach. They’re efficient on offense and tough on defense. They get the most out of their players and they’ve recruited really well. They have a lot of great athletes, a great run game and their quarterback is really efficient. They’ve got a strong and physical line. They’re a tough opponent and we’re going to have to play our best. We really look forward to playing our best and seeing if we can get that done on Thursday.
Using so many defensive subs in the game
I don’t know the number, but I think we played over 80 snaps in that game. It’s tough for a guy to play that many snaps, especially with the long drives—there were some drives that had more than 10 plays. When our guys get tired, we like to get other guys in there. Otherwise, you end up giving a play because you’re tired. That’s not going to happen with us. We have guys that are rotating in and we’re trying guys at different positions. That’s what happens with every team. You deal with injuries and you have to deal with depth. We’re no different—we have our injuries and our depth issues. We have to get our best 11 players and rotate guys. We have a certain rotation that’s completely changed from what it was at Arizona because some guys aren’t ready to go. That’s just the game of football. Our job as coaches is to get the right guys out there.
Butch Pau'u’s performance (and others)
He was not himself but he did some good things for us as well. A lot of it is being the general on the field for us. I thought (Austin) Heder did some good things too, and (Adam) Pulsipher did some things. But Butch is the starter for a reason. I thought he was really smart towards the end. I think Heder finished the game; Butch understood he wasn’t giving us what we needed. He came in and got things organized, got the guys to settle down. And then Heder did well after that.
Long-term playing contract with Boise State
I have tons for respect for Boise. They have great, passionate fans and a great program. They’ve done some great things as a team and with the tradition that’s been established the past couple of decades. They have some really great things going on for their program in a great coaching staff and great talent. We talked about playing the best and I definitely think they’re up there. It’s an honor for us to have that tradition of playing. We’d love to play them every year because they’re a great team.
Senior QB Taysom Hill
Where do you put BYU/ Boise State as far as rivalry goes?
Outside of Utah, it is definitely up there. They are a good program, we are a good program and there is a lot of history at both places. We were talking about it today before practice and as far as I know BYU has never won up there. At least in my time here at BYU, we’ve won every game here and they’ve won every game there, so I think it’s a great opportunity for us to go up there and get a win.
Any added meaning playing Boise State because you are from Idaho?
Not really. It’s Boise State and I grew up watching them, but the Treasure Valley is further away than Provo is to me and Pocatello. It’s fun to go back and play in Idaho against a good program, but every week I am going to prepare the best I can. So in terms of preparation, it’s all the same.
On Boise State defense
They are a good physical defense. Boise State is notorious for mixing things up and giving us a lot of different looks, so I think that’s what I expect. It’s a new defensive coordinator, but a lot of the stuff they’ve done last year is what they’ve done this year, so it’s stuff that we are familiar with. We welcome the challenge and look forward to go and play them.
On the tight ends
That was awesome and big pay offs for those guys and to be honest, for us to be as good as we possibly can offensively, those guys need to be an intricate part of what we do. They have done a really nice job in blocking and when we can make it off of a play action and get those guys in the flat like we did on the touchdown pass. And then for Tanner (Balderree) to make a play like he did once he got the ball and get the yards after a catch was huge. So if we get those guys heavily involved, it gives our offense a chance to be successful.
Biggest growth in the offense
I think Ty (Detmer) is trusting our personnel. We’ve opened it up a little bit- we started really conservative at the beginning of the season and I think a lot of it was him feeling us out and us feeling out what the play-callling was going to be and not knowing what the defense was going to do to defend us. Now we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. I think Ty is getting more comfortable and trusting us and making sure that we do take some shots or get tricky that if we don’t have something there that we don’t turn the play into a negative one. I think that trust has been developed.
Junior TE Tanner Balderree
On Hunter Marshall’s touchdown
It was exciting and a lot of fun. It was a relief for me, all the other tight ends and Coach Clark. We’ve been putting in a lot of work, and there was a lot of expectation and pressure at the beginning of the season. It’s nice to be given opportunities and then to go out and do it. I was so pumped for Hunter, and I was glad that he got it.
On the recovery from Friday
It’s been hard because we have a short week this week so we have to push up our schedule. On Saturday we did a lift and a little bit of conditioning. Everybody was feeling a little groggy and pushing through it. It’s been a bang up for a lot of guys but we’re getting there, and I know the coaching staff will make sure we’re good to go by Thursday.
On the Boise State rivalry
It’s one of the top five in my book. It’s someone we’ve consistently played throughout our history. It’s been a back and forth battle; they beat us one year, and we beat them the next. It’s a big game for us, and it’s a big game for them.
On Boise State as a team
They are a very athletic team. They aren’t as big as Mississippi State, but they are a big team. They rely on athleticism to make a lot of plays, more than size and strength. As on offensive line and an offensive unit, we have to be prepared for the fact that every guy on the Boise State defense is athletic enough to make a play. We have to be composed and make sure that we don’t let them get inside our heads and play our game. We have to know when Taysom or Tejan (Koroma) is going to snap the ball, not when they are going to try to get us to move offside.
Sophomore WR Moroni Laulu-Pututau
On his touchdown catch against Mississippi State
I think it was huge, mostly just for the morale because we started going backwards and we had like seven plays within 10 yards. I think it was just big to get our confidence up. We went back and watched it everyone did their job perfectly- the line blocked perfect, Jamaal (Williams) had a big block, which gave Taysom time to throw and he made the right read. It was just cool to see on film how everything connected perfectly and how the gears moved together and how they were supposed to.
Thoughts on Boise State
I think that they are a good team, as always. They are well-coached and on film, they are a hustling team. They are fundamentally sound and they hustle, so we just have to match that.
What have your teammates who have played at Boise State said about the environment?
Mitchell Juergens told me it is the loudest place he has ever played. I asked him if it was louder than Nebraska and he said yes. He said he doesn’t know how, but they have got some great fans up there and that far down on the field, you can’t hear anything. But we are preparing for that.
Do you like playing in that type of environment?
Oh I love it. My first game during my freshman year was Nebraska and that was so fun. I thought I was going to be nervous, but it ended up just being a blast. It’s what you dream of so it’s what I expect and I wouldn’t expect anything less honestly.
Where do you rank Boise State in terms of rivals for BYU?
I feel like we treat everyone as a rival honestly. We’ve been playing this season with a chip on our shoulder and with a lot of stuff to prove, so I mean I would rank them at the same level as anyone else.
Senior DL Sae Tautu
Improvements from last game
There are some things communication wise we can do better and our discipline. We gave up a couple penalties that were crucial, such as substitution errors, offsides, that kind of stuff. We’ll work those things out and when we do that, the game is not as close.
On playing Boise State
It’s a loud, hostile crowd and our boys will be ready for it. This is a rivalry for them, so they come out and bring their A-game and try to get in everybody’s heads. Going back there, I’m prepared for trick plays. I’m prepared for the environment. I’m excited to get out there with this team and our new scheme and give them everything we got. I’m not worried about it because we’re making a conscious effort to prepare.
On Boise’s offensive line
They are a good line and they are coached very well. I think their technique is a little different than some of the other lines we’ve seen. I’m glad I was able to see that on film early in the week. They are good players and we have to respect them.
On playing Power 5 teams so far this season
I’ve learned we can hang with anybody, not just our defense but as a team. I don’t think there is anybody in the country we can’t stay in the game with. I’m proud of our guys.
Sophomore LB Francis Bernard
Playing with Butch Pau’u
It was great. I feel like when we’re together, we flow better. He understands and if I go one way, he’ll go the opposite. Just having his presence there means a lot. The defense definitely plays better when he’s there too.
On Fred Warner’s final play
He is one heck of an athlete. We’d put him in any situation to make a play. We just knew in that situation that whoever was covering him would come up with a big play. When I saw it was Fred, I knew we were going to win. The game was on us. It shows our character and shows we are getting better each and every week. We just have a bunch of good players that are stepping on the defense.
It’s been a focus in practice. We emphasize doing more tackling drills. Even afterwards you’ll see a lot of the players do their own thing in the open field with open tackling. It paid off last game. We’ll continue to do it, and hopefully we’ll see fewer missed tackles.
On preparing for Boise State
They come out almost every formation in something different. We just have to understand. We need to watch film. Film is going to play a big part in this game if we all do our part watching it. Then we’ll be more prepared and have a step on them. Playing in Boise will be kind of a hostile environment, but I’m excited to go there and play.