Second-half surge helps BYU defeat UMass
PROVO, Utah – Behind a strong rushing attack and second half takeaways on defense and special teams, BYU defeated Massachusetts 51-9 on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Cougars (7-4) were dominant on the ground, rushing for 247 yards and amassing 437 yards of total offense, while holding the Minutemen (2-9) to just 40 rushing yards on 20 attempts.
"I was happy with how the guys played, specifically in the second half," head coach Kalani Sitake said. "We got off to kind of a slow start, but when we started sticking to our game plan and communicating better as a team, good things started to happen, especially with special teams. They really gave us that spark. I was pleased with how the game went and definitely happy with the score."
KJ Hall rushed for 101 yards on 18 carries and senior Harvey Langi gained 56 yards on 14 carries on his first game on offense this season. Senior quarterback Taysom Hill passed for 165 yards and rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore Francis Bernard recorded seven tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown. BYU’s special teams forced two fumbles with Hiva Lee and Eric Takenaka each recovering fumbles to set up BYU scores.
Despite falling behind early in the first half, the Cougars scored 44 unanswered points and dominated in the second half thanks to four turnovers and a blocked punt.
UMass quarterback Andrew Ford connected with Bernard Davis for a 70-yard touchdown pass and the Minutemen took a 6-0 lead after a missed PAT attempt with at the 3:27 mark in the first quarter.
The Cougars began the next drive on the 25-yard line and drove 75 yards in 10 plays for their first score of the game. Hall scored on an 11-yard run and the Cougars took a 7-6 lead with 14:53 remaining in the second quarter.
The Minutemen answered quickly with a 50-yard kickoff return that resulted in a 44-yard field goal and UMass took a 9-7 lead with 12:58 remaining in the first half.
To cap off an 86-yard drive for the Cougars, Langi scampered into the endzone from five yards out with 5:22 remaining in the half to help BYU retake the lead with the score 14-9.
The Minuteman threatened to score again driving to the Cougars’ 35-yard line, but a third down sack by Logan Taele pushed UMass out of field goal range, forcing a punt.
To open the second half, BYU drove 53 yards in 11 plays and finished the drive with a 33-yard field goal from Rhett Almond. The score extended the Cougars’ lead to eight and BYU led 17-9 at the 11:30 mark in the third quarter.
On the next Minutemen possession, linebacker Morgan Unga reached the UMass punter in time to block the punt and BYU took over on the UMass 19-yard line. Almond tacked on another field goal, this time from 34 yards, and BYU led 20-9 with 9:13 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, BYU’s Takenaka forced and recovered a fumble to give BYU possession on the UMass 17-yard line. Facing a long third down, Hill bulldozed several UMass defenders for an 11-yard rush that moved the ball to the two yard line and Langi scored his second touchdown of the afternoon on a 2-yard rush to make the score 27-9 in favor of BYU.
Three plays into the next UMass drive, Bernard picked off Ford and returned the interception 39 yards for the score to put the Cougars ahead, 34-9.
BYU’s next scoring drive featured a fourth down conversion with Hill finding receiver Mitchell Juergens for a first down. After advancing the ball to the 5-yard line, Hill scrambled to the left side of the field for another score to make it 41-9.
With 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, BYU forced another turnover with Isaiah Armstrong getting an interception on the UMass 36-yard line. Tanner Mangum found Garrett Juergens in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass to make the score 48-9. It was the first career touchdown for Juergens.
The following kickoff bounced off the hands of the UMass returner and Lee recovered the ball on the UMass 8-yard line. Almond added a 21-yard field goal with 3:05 remaining in the game and BYU held on to win by a final score of 51-9.
BYU closes out its regular season against Utah State at 8:15 p.m. MST at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The game will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU with the radio broadcast on the Cougar IMG Network, KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM) and BYU Radio (XM 143).
BYU football wrapped up its first week of fall camp with its fifth practice on Saturday morning.