PROVO – BYU beat Utah State 28-10 Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium in the regular-season finale, claiming the Old Wagon Wheel for the second-consecutive season.
The Cougars (8-4) collected 355 total yards in the game, including 249 rushing yards, while holding Utah State (3-9) to a season-low 200 total yards.
“I’m happy with the win,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “It wasn’t a perfect game, but I’m happy with the result. Utah State came out and played. Obviously, they were motivated to get that win. We had some issues that needed to get taken care of, but I liked the way that we played in the second half.”
Taysom Hill went 10 for 21 with 101 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an arm injury in the fourth quarter. Jamaal Williams had 131 rushing yards on 18 attempts, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Fred Warner and Francis Bernard anchored the defense with six total tackles each and Michael Shelton returned a fumble 52-yards for a score.
Utah State marched down the field on the first drive of the game, getting on the board with a 28-yard field goal, capping off the 12 play, 64 yard drive.
With the Cougars going on a 27-yard drive, Hill’s pass was intercepted by the Aggies’ Dallin Leavitt at the Utah State 46-yard line. Utah State couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, however, giving the ball back to BYU after a three-and-out.
Hill completed a 35-yard pass to Nick Kurtz on BYU’s next drive to set his team up at the Utah State 28-yard line. A 2-yard touchdown run from Williams then helped give BYU a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
With just under three minutes left in the half, the Aggies went for it on 4th-and-1, converting before Logan Taele forced a fumble. Shelton quickly recovered the turnover, running 52 yards to score the defensive touchdown and give the Cougars a 14-3 advantage.
Near the end of the second quarter, the Aggies’ Jalen Davis picked off Hill, returning the ball 37 yards to the BYU 6-yard line. Two plays later, Utah State scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown to get back within four, trailing 14-10 at halftime.
Hill threw a 10-yard strike to Mitchell Juergens in the end zone with 2:19 left in the third quarter. The Cougars led 21-10 following the Rhett Almond PAT.
Warner picked off the Aggies’ quarterback at the Utah State 40 to set up BYU’s ensuing touchdown drive. After an injured Hill left the game, Mangum threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Colby Pearson to increase the BYU lead at 28-10 with 12.55 left in the game.
Neither team scored in the remaining time as the Cougars ran out the clock to end the game 28-10.
As for Hill’s injury, Sitake said after the game that Hill sustained a hyperextended elbow and no fracture and would be further evaluated Monday, which process will include an MRI.
BYU continues play next at the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium against a Mountain West Conference opponent. The game will begin at 6 p.m. PST and will be televised live on ESPN along with radio broadcasts on the Cougar IMG Network, KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM) and BYU Radio (XM 143).
BYU increased its turnover total to 29 on the year with a fumble recovery and an interception. The Cougars were No. 3 nationally coming into tonight’s game. Additionally, the defense has recorded at least one interception in every game in 2016, the first time that has happened since 2001.
The Cougar defense held the Aggies to a season-low 200 yards of offense. This was the second lowest a BYU opponent has had the season, the lowest coming against Southern Utah (165 yards). The previous low for Utah State was 252 against San Diego State. For rushing defense, the Aggies had 97 rushing yards, the sixth game under 100 for the Cougar defense and the fourth consecutive game.
This was BYU’s seventh game this season with over 200 rushing yards. It is the second game in a row over 200, third of the last four.
For the first time since last year’s matchup between the Cougars and Aggies, BYU returned a fumble for a touchdown. With 2:50 left in the second quarter, Michael Shelton picked up the fumble caused by Logan Taele and ran 52 yards into the end zone.
New coach, winning record
Kalani Sitake ensures he is one of six new FBS head coaches that could have a winning record in their first season. BYU finishes the regular season 8-4, notching at least eight wins for the fourth year in a row and fifth time in the last six years.
November winning streak
With this win, BYU is 36-6 in the month of November over the past 10 seasons, including a perfect 20-0 at home during that time. The Cougars have not lost at home in November since 2005 when they fell 41-34 to Utah.
Williams went over 3,600 career rushing yards in the win after tallying 131 yards on 18 carries. His 18 carries gives him 700 career attempts, the first player in BYU history to reach 700, passing Harvey Unga’s 696 for the most in school history. He had his 11th rushing touchdown of the season in the second quarter, his first since Michigan State. This is also his 15th 100-yard rushing game in his career, which ties Harvey Unga and Curtis Brown for a school record. The senior is No. 7 at BYU for rushing yards in a single season.
With less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, Warner picked off Aggies quarterback Kent Myers, It was the third of the season and sixth of his career. He tied for the lead in total tackles with six, including two solo stops. He also notched a pass breakup.
With his touchdown pass in the third quarter, Hill had his 75th combined touchdown (43 passing, 32 rushing), which breaks a tie with Steve Young for fifth in BYU history. He also passed Jim McMahon for No. 4 for total offense in a career at BYU with 9,744. In the win, he eclipsed 2,800 career rushing yards with 46 on 12 attempts.
The senior wide receiver had a season-long 35-yard reception at the end of the first quarter. He finished with 50 receiving yards to lead the team.
At the 2:50 mark in the second quarter, Shelton scooped up a fumble and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown. It was his first touchdown and fumble recovery.
Juergens caught his second touchdown of the season in the third quarter with 2:19 left. It was his first since West Virginia back on Sept. 24.
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