Caleb Turner | Posted: 9 Sep 2018 | Updated: 7 Aug 2023

BYU drops home opener 21-18 to Cal

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PROVO, Utah – Despite forcing three California turnovers, the BYU football team fell 21-18 to Cal in its home opener at Lavell Edwards Stadium Saturday night.


"I was proud of how hard they played," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. "We made way too many mistakes and we didn’t have time to fix them by the end of the game. Congratulations to Cal, they deserved to win that game. We didn’t help ourselves by making some errors and having some drive killers. We just have to be better."

After forcing zero turnovers last week against Arizona, BYU’s defense and special teams came up with three takeaways on the night. Senior Butch Pau’u forced a fumble early in the third quarter that was recovered by Dayan Ghanwoloku for a 36-yard touchdown. Then in the fourth quarter, Isaiah Kaufusi caught his first career interception and Ghanwoloku recovered another fumble on a muffed Cal punt return.

Senior Zayne Anderson recorded a new career high in tackles with 12 after switching from safety to linebacker this season. Nine of his tackles were solo, including his first career tackle for loss.

On the offensive side, BYU once again showed off its variety of talent with 11 different players catching passes and five of them recording more than 20 yards. The group was led by tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau with 56 yards on five grabs. Freshman Gunner Romney had two receptions for 29 yards. 

Quarterback Tanner Mangum threw for 192 yards on 22 of 41 passing on the night. Running back Squally Canada added 49 yards rushing.

First quarter:

Despite a promising 46-yard opening drive, the Cougars fell short of the end zone with a turnover on downs five minutes into the game. BYU employed three running backs in the opening effort, including Beau Hoge, who the Cougars ran as both a wildcat quarterback and a running back.

BYU’s defense was able to force the Golden Bears to a three-and-out on their first drive, but allowed a touchdown on their second when Chase Garbers found Patrick Laird for a 25-yard  pass, giving Cal a 7-0 lead to end the first quarter.

  • First career tackle for loss by Zayne Anderson

  • Matt Bushman catches a pass in 15th-consecutive game

Second quarter:

The Cougars put together another solid drive to open the second quarter, going 67 yards in just over six minutes. Freshman Skyler Southam capped off the drive with his first career field goal on a 36-yard attempt.

Freshman wide receiver Gunner Romney caught an 18-yard pass, his first reception as a Cougar, to spark another BYU offensive stand just before the half. The drive came to an abrupt end, however, when the Golden Bears’ defense sacked Tanner Mangum on 4th down for their first of the game.

  • First career field goal for Skyler Southam (36 yards)

  • First career reception for Gunner Romney (18 yards)

Third quarter:

Cal extended its lead early in the second half with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Kanawai Noa, capping off a 79-yard drive in the opening minutes of the third quarter. The Cougars’ offense was unable to respond, going three-and-out on the next drive, but a big defensive play brought BYU back into the game. Butch Pau’u forced a fumble that was recovered and returned by Dayan Ghanwoloku for a 36-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 14-10 five minutes into the third quarter.

A pass interference call on the Cougars brought the Golden Bears to the BYU 38-yard line, but an interception by Isaiah Kaufusi immediately after put BYU back on offense and eliminated the potential Cal scoring threat. The Cougars failed to take advantage of the turnover, however, punting the ball away after three plays.

  • First career fumble recovery for touchdown for Dayan Ghanwoloku

  • First career interception for Isaiah Kaufusi

  • Zayne Anderson records single-game career-high 10th tackle (finished with 12)

Fourth quarter:

An 11-play, 85-yard drive by the Golden Bears to end the third quarter and begin the fourth ended in a rushing touchdown by quarterback Brandon McIlwain. He was Cal’s leading rusher on the night, going for 56 yards on 10 attempts.

Ghanwoloku got his second fumble recovery of the night on a muffed Cal punt return early in the fourth quarter, giving BYU great field position on the 16-yard line. An offensive pass interference call, however, sent the Cougars back to the 27-yard line, followed by an interception by Traveon Beck to end a promising opportunity for BYU. This was the first turnover by the Cougar offense this season.

The eight-play, 44-yard drive that followed took five minutes off the clock, putting the ball back in BYU’s hands with just under six minutes to come back from a 21-10 deficit. The Cougars were able to string together a series of plays to travel 73 yards and find Brayden El-Bakri in the endzone for a touchdown. Micah Simon then caught a pass on a two-point conversion to bring BYU within three, 21-18, with under a minute to go.

  • Moroni Laulu-Pututau records season-high 24-yard reception

  • Second career receiving touchdown for Brayden El-Bakri

The Cougars travel to No. 5 Wisconsin on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 2:30 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised on ABC. Audio broadcasts can be heard on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143) and KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM).

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