BYU beats Mississippi State in 2OT; Williams breaks all-time rushing mark
PROVO, Utah – Jamaal Williams became BYU's all-time career rusher as the Cougars beat Mississippi State 28-21 in two overtimes Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"Overall I'm really proud of the guys and how they played," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. "A lot of these games have been close, and that takes a toll, but I'm happy with the outcome. We got some things worked out and got the win."
Taysom Hill rolled right and found tight end Tanner Balderree who did most of the work after catch to give BYU a 28-21 lead after the Cougars' second overtime possession. BYU linebacker Fred Warner broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone on the Bulldogs' possession to seal BYU's win.
BYU improved to 4-3 while Mississippi State fell to 2-4 on the season.
Williams rushed for 76 yards in the game to increase his career rushing total to 3,468 yards, which broke Harvey Unga's career mark. Unga, whose last year was in 2009, had 3,455 career rushing yards as a Cougar.
Mississippi State got on the board first with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Nick Fitzgerald to Keith Mixon. Fitzgerald was pressured outside a dumped it off to the sideline where Mixon went down the line for the score. The subsequent PAT put the Bulldogs’ up 7-0 about six minutes into the game.
BYU responded by going on a 15-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown. On fourth and goal from the one yardline, Hill found Hunter Marshall in the back left corner of the end zone with 48 seconds left in the quarter to even things up at 7-7.
It was Marshall’s first touchdown as a Cougar and Hill’s seventh touchdown pass of the year.
Micah Hannemann’ first interception of the season and third of his career gave the ball back to BYU early in the second quarter. That eventually led to a 42-yard field goal attempt but Rhett Almond missed wide right.
Fitzgerald punched in a touchdown on the ground to cap off a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to put Mississippi State back on top, 14-7, with 3:54 left in the first half. The two teams took that score into halftime.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, although time ran out with the Cougars on the Bulldog eight yardline and third down coming up.
After penalties by both teams, BYU capitalized, as Hill threw a laser through two defenders for a touchdown to Moroni Laulu-Pututau, who made a diving catch between the defenders in the end zone. The PAT tied things up at 14-14 with 13:15 left to play.
Mississippi State’s next drive came to a halt when Kai Nacua picked off Fitzgerald and returned it 10 yards to the BYU 28. That marked five interceptions on the year for Nacua, and 13 on his career.
The ball exchanged hands a few times and both teams were unable to score as the game headed to overtime.
The Bulldogs started in overtime and scored a touchdown via a two-yard rushing touchdown. The Cougars trailed 21-14 as they took over on offense.
On BYU’s first play, Williams carried the ball for nine yards to break Unga’s record. Several plays later, Hill punched in a quarterback sneak for a touchdown. Andrew Mikkelsen made the PAT to send the game to a second overtime.
The Cougars needed just one play to score a touchdown in the second extra period with the connection between Hill and Balderee for the touchdown. It was Balderee's first career touchdown reception and capped off a night of 165 passing yards and three touchdown passes for Hill.
Keying off a sack by Sae Tautu and Logan Taele, the Cougars kept Mississippi State from scoring on their second overtime possession. The final play was an incomplete pass with Corbin Kaufusi hurrying Fitzgerald and Warner tipping it away in the end zone.
BYU football wrapped up its first week of fall camp with its fifth practice on Saturday morning.