LAS -- The BYU offense scored a touchdown on its first possession in overtime, and the defense intercepted a fourth-down, desperation pass by UNLV to earn a 27-20 victory over the Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday.
Matt Berry completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Toby Christensen to give the Cougars the lead following their first overtime possession. Berry was three for four for 24 yards in overtime, including two passes to Daniel Coats.
Berry finished the game 31- of-44 for 274 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for one score--a quarterback keeper to tie the score at 20-20 with just 29 seconds remaining.
After Berry's touchdown pass in overtime, UNLV's offense took the field. On its first play, Rebel running back Dominique Dorsey rushed for six yards. But the Cougar defense would cause UNLV to lose eight yards on its next play, forcing a third and 12.
Coach Gary Crowton said he was proud of his team and it felt great to get a win.
"We've had a couple of losses there, especially that Wyoming loss which was such a close game. We had a chance to come back and then instead of winning that, we lost it" Crowton said. "And this one we came back and we won it and it just feels good."
The defense forced an incompletion on third down and Aaron Francisco intercepted a pass on fourth down to seal the Cougar victory, ending BYU's two-game losing streak.
UNLV jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, benefiting from three Cougar turnovers on consecutive possessions, resulting in 10 Rebel points.
Crowton said the reason why the team had so many turnovers was they were pressing and trying to do too much.
"I sat them down and I said 'Look, they're not stopping us, we're stopping ourselves," Crowton said.
But the Cougars would come roaring back in the second quarter, matching the Rebels' output in the first quarter to knot the game at 13 going into halftime. BYU scored first on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Berry to Christensen. Matt Payne rounded out the scoring, kicking 40- and 50-yard field goals in the first half of play.
The two teams remained scoreless for much of the second half. The Rebels scored on a 22-yard pass from Kurt Nantkes to Earvin Johnson to take a 20-13 lead with 4:56 left to play in the game.
After the UNLV score, BYU took over with 4:56 left in the game, and Berry led the team 70 yards down the field, scoring on a one-yard run to tie the game and force overtime. He completed 6-of-7 passes on the drive for 53 yards, completing passes to four different receivers.
Berry said the team was confident going into that last drive, despite what happened last week at Wyoming.
"We all knew we were going to win," Berry said. "We weren't nervous or anything. We all knew what we needed to do. And it wasn't going to be another 'Oh brother, here we go again, we're losing another game we shouldn't have.' We all knew what we needed to do."
PROVO -- After suffering its fifth loss of the season on Saturday (Oct. 18 at Wyoming), BYU will look to turn the season around on Saturday, Oct. 25, in Las Vegas. The Cougars (3-5, 2-3) will take on UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium, beginning at 4 p.m. (PT). The game will be broadcast to a regional audience on ABC. The game will be carried locally on KTVX, Ch. 4. UNLV (4-3, 0-2) will enter Saturday's contest following a 28-10 loss against Utah -- its second straight Mountain West loss. The Rebels will be looking for their first league victory, while the Cougars will be competing in their sixth of seven league games.
THE HISTORY: BYU vs. UNLV -- The 11th Meeting
Saturday's game will mark the 11th meeting between the two schools. BYU owns an 8-2 record over the Rebels, having won six of the last seven meetings. The Cougars have never lost to the Rebels in Las Vegas. The Rebels picked up their second-ever victory over BYU last season, marking the first UNLV win since the 1981 season. The two teams first met in the Nikkan Yokohama Bowl during the 1978 season. The Cougars won the first-ever meeting 28-24. As members of the Mountain West Conference, BYU has posted a 3-1 mark over the Rebels. BYU won the first MWC meeting, 29-0. The Cougars won the next two meetings by an average 3.5 points, including a three-point win in 2000 and a four-point victory in 2001.
COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS
Television - Saturday's game will be broadcast to a regional audience by ABC. The game will be broadcast locally on KTVX, beginning at 5 p.m. (MT). Eric Collins will call the action with Ray Bentley lending game analysis. In addition, the game will be broadcast live on the ESPN Game Plan.
Radio - Fans can tune to KSL Radio--the 50,000-watt home of the Cougars--and follow the action with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley.
Internet - A live webcast of the game, which includes play-by-play and up-to-the-minute statistics, can be viewed by logging on to:
In addition, a live audio stream is available at http://www.ksl.com.
-Saturday's game will mark the sixth league game for the Cougars, while UNLV has played only two league games. BYU is currently 2-3 in league play, including wins over New Mexico (10-7) and San Diego State (44-36), while UNLV is 0-2 against MWC opponents.
-The Cougars have never lost to UNLV in Las Vegas. Dating back to the 1980 season, BYU is 4-0 against the Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium.
-Both the Cougars and Rebels will enter Saturday's game coming off back-to-back losses.
-BYU head coach Gary Crowton is 1-1 all-time against the Rebels, while UNLV head coach John Robinson is 1-3 against the Cougars.
-Saturday's game will mark quarterback Matt Berry's second game since breaking a bone in his hand on Sept. 13. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound quarterback missed the Cougars' last four games before picking up the start at Wyoming. Berry had surgery to insert screws to repair the fracture on Sept. 14 -- the day after the Cougars' 10-7 win over New Mexico. Berry marked his return throwing for a game-high 225 yards on 21-of-34 attempts.
-UNLV ranks sixth in scoring offense, averaging 20.1 points per game. The BYU defense ranks seventh in the leaugue play, allowing 25.5 points per contest. The Cougars rank eighth in the league in scoring offense, averaging 17.9 points per game, while the Rebel defense ranks fifth, giving up 22.1 points per contest.
-UNLV ranks last in the MWC, averaging 327.3 yards per game, while the BYU defense ranks second, giving up just 306.5 yards per game.
-Defensively, the Cougars lead the Mountain West with 22 sacks for a combined loss of 125 yards. The Rebels rank fifth in the league with 16 sacks for 133 yards on the season.
-With a 3-5 record on the season, the Cougars have been outscored by an average of 7.6 points per contest. The Rebels (4-3) have been outscored by only 2.0 points per contest.
-Saturday's game will mark only the fourth home game of the season for the Rebels, while it will be the Cougars fifth road game.
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 358 GAMES AND COUNTING
Following Matt Payne's 30-yard field goal in the third quarter at Wyoming, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 358 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) Interestingly, the Cougars do not have a single player on their rosters who was alive the last time BYU was shutout.
LAST WEEK (Wyoming 13, BYU 10)
Wyoming jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first half and held off a late comeback attempt by the Cougars to hold out for a 13-10 victory over BYU last Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. The Cougars forced Wyoming to punt with just under two minutes left in the game and took over at their own 10-yard line, trailing 13-10. BYU drove down to the Wyoming 30-yard line after completing passes to Toby Christensen, Philip Niu and Jason Kukahiko. But Matt Berry, who made his first start in four games, had a tipped pass intercepted, ending the Cougars' comeback bid. BYU's defense played solid, holding the Mountain West Conference's leading passer, Casey Bramlet, to just 143 yards passing with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Coming into the game, Bramlet had thrown only two interceptions all season. John Denney led the Cougar defense, recording one sack and an interception. Wyoming got on the board first, scoring on a 42-yard field goal by Deric Yaussi to cap the game's first drive. BYU drove inside the Wyoming 20-yard line and attempted a field goal that would have tied the game, but Matt Payne missed the field goal attempt. The Cowboys added another field goal and a touchdown to take a 13-0 lead in the first half. The touchdown came on a 53-yard interception return of a John Beck pass by Tyler Gottschalk. BYU got on the board in the third quarter on a 44-yard field goal by Payne. On the drive, the Cougars drove to the Wyoming 14-yard line, but the drive stalled after Berry fumbled the ball setting up a third and 18 from the Wyoming 25-yard line, which BYU was unable to convert. The Cougars pulled to within three points on a two-yard plunge by Fahu Tahi. BYU drove 66-yards on the drive, as Berry completed 5-of-7 passes for 55 yards. Berry finished the game 21 for 34 for 225 yards and one interceptions.
-The Cougars' 3-5 record marks an identical record following the first eight games of the 2002 season.
-The Wyoming game marked the fifth time this season BYU has scored 14 or less points, and the third time the Cougars have score just 10 points in a single game.
-The Cougars failed to score in the first half (at Wyoming), marking the first time since Nov. 2, 2000 (at Colorado St.) BYU has failed to score in the opening half of play. Including the third and fourth quarter against CSU, and the first half at Wyoming, the Cougars had failed to score in four straight quarters. Matt Payne's 30-yard field goal in the third quarter ended that streak.
-The Cougars three points after three quarters marked a season-low scoring total. The game also marked the fifth time this season an opponent has scored the first points of the game.
-After giving up just six points to Wyoming in the first half, the Cougars held Wyoming scoreless in the second half. The scoreless half marked the fourth game this season the BYU defense has held an opponent scoreless in two or more quarters in a game. The second-half shutout was the first since blanking Georgia Tech on Aug. 28 in Provo.
-The Cougars were flagged five times for 29 yards in the first quarter, marking the third time this season BYU has been penalized five times in the opening quarter of play. (Georgia Tech, 5-for-44; Stanford, 5-51).
-The BYU defense held Wyoming to just 225 total yards. The defensive performance marked the third time this season the Cougars have held an opponent to under 235 total yards. it was the first time since the Stanford game BYU has held an opponent to under 300 total yards. Wyoming gained just 85 yards rushing, marking the fourth lowest rushing total by an opponent this season. The Cowboys' 140 yards passing marked the third lowest passing total by an opponent this season. Defensive end John Denney came up with his second interception of the season, picking off Wyoming's Casey Bramlet in the first half. Defensive back Kip Nielsen recorded his first interception of the season, picking off Bramlet in the endzone, preventing a Wyoming touchdown.
-The BYU defense recorded three sacks on the night, improving its league-leading total to 23. Through eight games, the COugars are averaging 2.9 sacks per contest.
-In the Cougars' 10-13 loss at Wyoming, BYU failed to throw a touchdown reception, marking the first time since the 2002 season-finale at Utah that the Cougars have not produced a touchdown reception in a game.
tion in not releasing additional injury information. Following is the list of specific terms we will use in referring to a player's game-day status.
WHAT A PAYNE
Junior punter/kicker Matt Payne leads the Mountain West in punting and ranks 18th nationally with an average 43.9 yards per punt. He also leads the league after connecting on 11-of-13 (.846) field goals, including a long of 53 yards--the second longest field goal in BYU history behind a 56-yarder by Owen Pochman. Payne also leads the Mountain West with a perfect 14-for-14 mark in point-after attempts.14 of Payne's 48 punts have landed inside the 20-yard line. Only 48 percent of all punts have been returned for yardage.
A BRATH OF FRESH AIR
After running back Marcus Whalen went down with a foot injury in the Cougars' season-opener against Georgia Tech, junior running back Reynaldo Brathwaite burst on to the scene and hasn't looked back. Brathwaite leads the Cougars with 685 yards rushing on the season, ranking third overall in the Mountain West. Brathwaite, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior has 115 carries on the season, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. He has posted a BYU record 95-yard touchdown run (at San Diego State), in addition to an 89-yard run in the Cougars' 10-7 win at New Mexico.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
Against San Diego State, BYU recorded six sacks, improving its season total to 17. Against Colorado State and Wyoming the Cougars sacked the opposing quarterback three times each contest. On the season, BYU has registered a league-leading 23 sacks for a total loss of 134 yards, averaging 2.9 sacks per game. In the season's first five games the Cougars had recorded 11 sacks, averaging 2.2 sacks per contest. Colby Bockwoldt leads the team with 4.5 sacks, followed by Brady Poppinga with four and John Denney with 3.5. BYU has seven players with at least two sacks on the season.
IN THE TRENCHES
The BYU offensive line, which includes three seniors and two freshmen, weighs in at a beefy 1,600 pounds, averaging 320 pounds per man. The O-line will be squaring off against a UNLV defensive line (two juniors, a sophomore and a senior) that tips the scales at an average 291.7 per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (three seniors) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Rebels' offensive line (three juniors and two seniors) average 299 pounds per man.
The Cougar defense, which ranks 20th nationally and yields 306.5 yards per game, will face a UNLV offense that is eighth in the conference in total offense with an average of 327.3 yards. Rebel quarterback Kurt Nantkes is second in the conference in completions per game with 16.8 and has thrown for 1,308 yards six touchdowns and six interceptions. BYU's defense ranks second in the conference and is tied for 19th nationally with ten interceptions. Jernaro Gilford and John Denney lead the Cougars in interceptions with two a piece. Eight Cougars have at least one interception. Last week against the conference's' top passer, Casey Bramlet, the Cougar defense grabbed two interceptions. In the first six games of the season Bramlet had only yielded two interceptions. The Cougar defense ranks third in the conference in rush defense (126.8 yards) and third in pass defense (179.6 yards).The BYU defense has scored one touchdown on the season. Interestingly, that touchdown came against San Diego State, marking the third straight game at Qualcomm Stadium the Cougars have scored a defensive touchdown ('99, Hans Olson; '01, Isaac Kelley; '03, Colby Bockwoldt.)