PROVO – Rhett Almond kicked a 19-yard field goal as time expired and Jamaal Williams had a career night to give BYU a 55-53 win over Toledo Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“It was another nail-biter,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I’m glad we got the win. There are obviously some things we need to fix, but it’s good to be on the winning side of a close game.”
Williams broke the BYU (2-3) single-game rushing record with 286 yards on the ground and had five rushing touchdowns to tie a school record. The previous single-game rushing record, held by Eldon Fortie, was set in 1962.
A Toledo (3-1) touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:11 on the game clock gave the Rockets a 53-52 lead and set up Taysom Hill, Williams and the Cougar offense for its game-winning drive. Almond’s kick went right down the middle to give BYU the win.
“On that last drive, no coaches talked to me, but some players were coming and giving me confidence and I felt good about myself, Almond said. “By the end of the game, I felt I was in a groove. I trust Matt Foley with the snap and Mitch (Juergens) as well with the hold, and then it is just me and the ball. I just focus on keeping my head down.”
The Cougars and Rockets traded blows in the first quarter, as BYU took a 21-14 advantage.
Hill completed his longest career pass on the Cougars’ first play from scrimmage for a 75-yard touchdown to Jonah Trinnaman, who scored his first BYU touchdown.
Williams pounded out two touchdowns on the ground for the Cougars’ other two scores.
A BYU defensive highlight in the first quarter was Dayan Lake’s interception, which came after Harvey Langi tipped a Toledo pass. Lake returned it 49 yards to the Rocket 13-yard line to set up one of Williams’ touchdowns.
The only scoring strike of the second quarter came halfway through, as Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside connected with Corey Jones for a 26-yard touchdown completion to tie the game at 21-21.
The third quarter was similar to the first, as both teams scored multiple times. The Rockets connected on two touchdown passes and made a field goal. BYU found the end zone twice, as Williams rumbled for touchdowns from 48 and 62 yards out.
Three quarters through, Williams had his first career game with four rushing touchdowns. The Cougars trailed 38-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Squally Canada scored his first BYU touchdown on a 17-yard rush. That gave the Cougars a 42-38 lead with 13:20 on the clock.
Toledo responded with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Woodside to Cody Thompson. With 10:57 left, it put the Rockets up 45-42.
Rhett Almond squared the score at 45-45 with a 32-yard field goal for BYU with 5:21 left in the game.
On the following drive, Kai Nacua intercepted a pass from Woodside and returned it 20 yards to the Rocket 21-yard line. It was Nacua’s fourth interception on the season and the 12th of his career.
Williams punched in his fifth touchdown of the night and broke Fortie’s record with three minutes left in the game. His 14-yard carry gave BYU a 52-45 lead.
That set up the Toledo drive, with Woodside connecting with Kareem Hunt for a 7-yard touchdown and Michael Roberts for the two-point conversion to make it 53-52 with just over a minute to go.
On the Cougars’ final drive Hill completed a 33-yard pass to Colby Pearson and ran for 11 yards as part of eight plays and 71 yards that set up Almond’s game-winner.
BYU next travels to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 3:30 p.m. EDT. That game will be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2, with a radio broadcast available on the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
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