BYU football: Critchlow and Canada shine against UNLV

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The BYU football team defeated UNLV 31-21 last week to improve to 3-8 on the season and bounce back from its loss to Fresno State.

Led by freshman Joe Critchlow at quarterback and junior Squally Canada at running back, the Cougars scored their second-highest point total of the year and gained 425 yards on offense.

Oh, Canada!

Canada finished the night with a career-high 213 rushing yards on 25 carries and a touchdown.

It was the 10th-best single-game rushing performance in BYU history.

BYU has struggled to stay healthy and perform at the running back position this season – Canada, KJ Hall, Trey Dye, Riley Burt and Kavika Fonua have missed time due to injury and Ula Tolutau has yet to return to the field after being cited for possession or use of a controlled substance on Oct. 8 in Orem and indicted Oct 24.

Canada averaged 8.5 yards per carry against UNLV, which came a week after he averaged seven yards per carry against Fresno State.

His longest run of the night came on a 54-yard run on the first play of the second half, which led to a 68-yard touchdown drive capped by a 2-yard Canada touchdown run.

His previous career high was 98 yards, which came against Portland State in the season opener on Aug. 26.

Critchlow impresses in debut

With Tanner Mangum and Beau Hoge out for the season, BYU gave Critchlow the start against the Rebels after he had seen limited playing time in three games.

The Franklin, Tennessee, native went 14-for-22 on the night, throwing for 160 yards and one touchdown in the win.

“He protected the ball, I thought he threw the ball where only our receivers could catch it,” Sitake said. “For a guy that has no experience, especially starting, he really impressed with his ability to run the game and he looked like he was having a great time. It was hard to think that this guy, a few months ago, was on a mission with a name tag on.”

Critchlow joined Mangum and Taysom Hill as the only true freshmen to win their first start at BYU.

Viva Las Vegas

BYU is now a perfect 9-0 against UNLV in Las Vegas and leads the all-time series 17-3.

Up next: Senior Day vs. UMass

The Cougars return to LaVell Edwards Stadium this week for their final home game of the season against UMass (1 p.m. MST, BYUtv/ESPN3).

BYU has faced fellow-independent UMass once before; the Cougars defeated the Minutemen 51-9 last year.

“We’ll try to get this next win and do it for the seniors,” Sitake said. “There are a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of football and this is their last game in LaVell Edwards Stadium. We want to get a win for our seniors and make it a special week for them.”