No Staley; BYU squeaks past UNM 24-20

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    By Martin Harris

    It wasn”t 51 points, but it was a win for the BYU football team as the Cougars escaped Albuquerque with a 24-20 win against New Mexico.

    BYU (6-0, 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference) played without halfback Luke Staley, who sat out the game due to potential problems with his eligibility.

    Staley”s backup, Ned Sterns, was moved up on the depth chart because of the injury to Brian McDonald-Ashford. Just minutes before the game, he was given the news concerning Staley”s status and that he would be replacing him.

    “Those are some big shoes to fill,” Sterns said. “But I was ready to go. I”ll do my job.”

    Without Staley, the full burden of leading the offense fell on the shoulders of quarterback Brandon Doman. He responded with his second come-from-behind, game-winning drive of the season.

    With BYU trailing 20-17 late in the fourth quarter, Doman and the Cougars” drive had apparently stalled on fourth down and eleven. Head coach Gary Crowton called a timeout to discuss a long fourth down or a 53-yard field goal attempt.

    “I had confidence that (kicker Matt) Payne could make that kick,” Crowton said, “but I also had confidence in Brandon.”

    Crowton decided to go for the yards, and a pass play was called with an option for Doman to keep it if he could get the first down.

    “I just kind of rolled the dice, to be honest with you,” Crowton admitted.

    Doman ran 14 yards to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, he found receiver Andrew Ord in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The Cougars would take the lead and hold it.

    The BYU defense made its stand and prevented any rally by the Lobos. The Cougars intercepted Lobo quarterback Casey Kelly three times.

    Jernaro Gilford had two of the interceptions, one of which was late in the fourth quarter when New Mexico was trying to make a comeback.

    “It”s so easy to quit but our guys didn”t do it,” Crowton said.

    The Lobos presented an offensive challenge to the Cougars, who were held to their lowest point total of the season.

    “We go out with a big bull”s-eye on our jersey, but we have to ready for that,” linebacker Justin Ena said. “We”re ranked 17th in the nation.”

    “It”s hard to be undefeated,” Doman said. “We”re doing a good job but we need to do better.”

    Doman finished the game completing 22 of 41 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns. He is also 8-0 as a starter for the Cougars, the first BYU quarterback to accomplish that since Robbie Bosco in 1984.

    Crowton said further information concerning Staley”s situation would be known Monday.

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