LAS VEGAS – Squally Canada’s career highs of 213 rushing yards on 25 carries lifted the BYU football team to a 31-21 win over UNLV Friday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Canada’s rushing numbers mark the ninth-most rushing yards by a BYU player in a single game. Aleva Hifo caught six passes for 58 yards and one touchdown while Matt Bushman had 52 yards on five receptions.
The Cougar defense held the Rebels to 122 rushing yards, less than half of the UNLV average for the season. Micah Hannemann led BYU with nine tackles, including seven solo stops. Zayne Anderson and Fred Warner added one interception apiece.
On UNLV’s opening drive, Corbin Kaufusi sacked quarterback Johnny Stanton for a loss of nine yards on a critical third down, forcing the Rebels to take a long field goal attempt. Kicker Evan Pantels missed a 47-yarder with 10:23 left in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Anderson recorded his second career interception in the end zone and shifted momentum BYU’s way, leading to a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive for the road team.
A mix of personnel helped put the Cougars’ first points on the board. Wildcat back Austin Kafentzis saw time in the wildcat package and rushed for 20 yards. Critchlow sent a 30-yard pass to Micah Simon over the middle. Hifo caught a 19-yard pass just shy of a touchdown.
Brayden El-Bakri rushed 1 yard into the end zone for his second career touchdown and kicker Rhett Almond hit the extra point to put BYU up 7-0 with 9:06 on the clock in quarter number two.
The Rebels then marched 78 yards down the field to the 1-yard line and the Cougar defense held them there for two downs. Lexington Thomas rushed 1 yard on third down to even the score 7-7 with 4:25 in the half.
BYU responded with an 11-play, 74-yard scoring drive for a 14-7 lead heading into halftime. Critchlow completed 5 of 7 passes on the drive for 50 yards, including a 2-yard quarterback sneak on fourth down. Hifo caught an 11-yard pass with 27 seconds left and managed to keep one foot inbounds long enough to earn the touchdown.
Canada opened the second half with a career-long 54-yard run, sparking a four-play, 68-yard scoring drive in under two minutes. Canada also rushed 2 yards for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season, extending BYU’s lead to 21-7.
Midway through the third quarter, a holding penalty called Almond’s 34-yard field goal back and he missed the second attempt wide right with 5 more yards tacked on.
UNLV capitalized on its following possession with an 18-yard touchdown pass to close the gap, 21-14.
Canada rushed 33 yards on four carries and Critchlow threw a 16-yard pass to Talon Shumway, setting up Kafentzis’ first career touchdown on an 11-yard rush from the wildcat. The score gave the Cougars a 28-14 advantage with 1:40 in the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Rebels connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 10:46 on the clock, making it 28-21.
Almond hit a 28-yard field goal to make it a two-score game, 31-21, with 5:39 on the clock.
After the BYU defense forced a three-and-out, BYU gave the ball back on downs with 1:45 to go deep in UNV territory.
On the Rebels’ first play, Warner intercepted a pass at the UNLV 29-yard line and returned it 26 yards to the 3-yard line, sealing BYU’s 31-21 victory.
The Cougars return to Provo for the final home game of the season against UMass next Saturday at 1 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on BYUtv and ESPN3, with radio broadcasts on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143) and KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.
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