PROVO – Despite being without its top two running backs, the BYU offense rushed for 247 yards and four touchdowns as BYU blew past Massachusetts in a 51-9 Cougars victory Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
KJ Hall, son of former BYU and Dixie State start Kalin Hall, rushed for 101 yards and a TD and Harvey Langi had 62 yards and two scores as the duo filled in for injured starter Jamaal Williams and backup Squally Canada at the RB position.
Langi, who was a highly-recruited running back out of Bingham High School, has been playing linebacker for the Cougars, recording 39 tackles on the season. But with injuries preventing Williams and Canada from going, Hall and Langi stepped in for BYU and spearheaded an offense that averaged nearly six yards per play in the game.
“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.”
The Minutemen kept it close in the first 30 minutes and even led 9-7 until late in the second quarter. Langi scored his first collegiate rushing TD on a 5-yard dive to cap a 13-play, 86-yard drive and give BYU a 14-9 lead with 5:22 to go before intermission.
The Cougars turned it on in the second half. After a pair of Rhett Almond field goals made it 20-7, Langi scored again to make it 27-9 with 7:18 left in the third quarter. That score came after a forced fumble and recovery by Eric Takenaka on a kickoff.
Two plays later, Francis Bernard picked off a UMass screen pass and raced 39 yards for another score, making it 34-9 with 6:20 left in the third quarter.
The Cougars added fourth quarter TDs by Taysom Hill (5-yard run) and Garrett Juergens (7-yard pass from Tanner Mangum) and a late Almond field goal to complete the scoring.
Hill finished with 171 passing yards and 82 rushing yards to lead the way for BYU, which improved to 7-4 on the season and won its third straight game.
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 on the Cougar IMG Network, KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM) and BYU Radio (XM 143).
Scoring in a quarter
With 20 points in the third quarter, BYU has scored 20 or more in a quarter four times this season. Against Toledo, BYU scored 21 in the first quarter and 20 in the fourth. At Michigan State, the Cougars scored 21 in the fourth quarter.
The special teams crew had three big plays in the game. At the 10:31 mark in the third quarter, Morgan Unga blocked a punt to put BYU on the 19-yard line. Also in the third quarter, Eric Takenaka recovered a fumble on the UMass punt return with 9:06 on the clock. In the fourth quarter, Hiva Lee recovered a fumble on the kickoff with 5:18 left in the game. Rhett Almond was also 3 for 3 on field goals.
The Cougar defense came up with two interceptions in the win over the Minutemen. Francis Bernard had a pick-six in the third quarter and Isaiah Armstrong picked off the quarterback in the fourth quarter. Entering the game, BYU had 16 interceptions, good for fifth in the NCAA.
BYU totaled the most sacks in a game this season with five. The previous high was four, which the Cougars reached against Arizona and Southern Utah.
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