PROVO – Led by Tanner Mangum’s record-breaking performance, BYU football defeated Connecticut 30-13 at home on Friday night.
BYU (3-2) had 539 total yards in the win compared with 230 from UConn (3-2, 0-1 AAC). The Cougar defense had four sacks in the game and allowed just one touchdown.
“I was really impressed with Tanner,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I thought he did a nice job overall with decision-making and throwing the football. It seems like when he is out there on the field, he is doing something special.”
Terenn Houk led the receivers with career-high 129 yards and Mitchell Juergens led the team with a career-high 10 receptions. Mitch Mathews caught two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, totaling 78 receiving yards in the game. Running backs Algernon Brown and Francis Bernard rushed for 95 and 69 yards, respectively. Bernard had one touchdown.
“I really liked what I saw in Francis Bernard tonight as he ran the football,” Mendenhall said. “He’s a great addition to the rotation, considering the number of backs we’ve cycled through this year. We knew coming out of fall camp that he was a physical and talented player.”
Defensively, linebacker Sae Tautu led the team with six total tackles to go along with three tackles for loss and a sack. Bronson Kaufusi had three tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and one interception.
“This win is huge. It sets us up to have a great October,” Kaufusi said. “We will come back Monday and get better. Every week we’d like to improve. We need to stay healthy and take it one day at a time.”
In BYU’s first series of the game, a miscommunication caused the first lost fumble of the season for the Cougars. However, the defense held strong and a sack from Sae Tautu forced the Huskies to punt.
BYU marched down the field 87 yards on 12 plays to get into the end zone on its second drive of the game with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter. Houk grabbed a 34-yard reception for the longest play of the drive, and Bernard rushed the ball at the 1-yard line to score his first career touchdown to put BYU up 7-0.
The Cougar defense held strong in the second quarter, making up for a missed field goal and an interception. UConn’s last drive of the half resulted in a touchdown after a targeting foul on the defense on quarterback Byron Shirreffs. Arkeel Newsome had a 30-yard reception to tie the game up 7-7 with 1:42 left in the half.
Trying to respond after the touchdown, BYU marched down the field. Houk caught another big pass for first down, this time for 28 yards. The drive ended with a field goal attempt, which was blocked by the Huskies.
Mangum threw another interception at the start of the third quarter, and UConn took a 10-7 lead with 7:11 left in the third.
A couple of big receptions from Houk and Nick Kurtz led BYU down the field. With 3:02 remaining in the third, Trevor Samson kicked a field goal for the Cougars to tie it up 10-10.
Defense swung the momentum in BYU’s favor in the fourth quarter. Kai Nacua’s quarterback hurry forced the UConn quarterback to throw it up in the air, setting up Kaufusi’s interception. The pick put the Cougars on the 21-yard line, paving the way for their second touchdown of the game. Mangum found Mathews in the end zone for a 21-yard pass, extending the lead to 20-10 with 12:03 left in the game.
At the 8:59 mark, the Huskies were held to a field goal again, making the score 20-13. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on UConn saved BYU’s next drive after what would have been a third-down stop. Bernard then followed with a 19-yard run before Mathews caught another touchdown pass from Mangum with 7:26 left to push BYU’s lead to 27-13.
Michael Shelton picked off Shirreffs with less than five minutes in the game to give the Cougars possession to run out the clock. Bernard ran 46 yards during BYU’s last possession to set Samson up for a the final field goal with 0:26 left for the final score, 30-13.
BYU will be back at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday Oct. 10 at 5:30 MDT for a homecoming matchup with East Carolina. The game will be televised live on ESPNU and broadcast on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM and Sirius XM 143.
Stats: BYU 30, Connecticut 13
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