The BYU football team overcame a first-half deficit to defeat the Hawaii Warriors, 41-20, Saturday night at Aloha Stadium. BYU was down 13-10 at the end of the second quarter but outscored Hawaii 31-7 in the second half to improve to 9-3 on the season.
Junior quarterback Riley Nelson made some big plays in the second half, which not only led his team to victory but also helped him set a personal best as he threw for 363 yards in BYU’s regular season finale. The BYU coaching staff wasn’t sure if Nelson would make the trip to Hawaii — let alone start the game — due to an injury he suffered against Idaho on Nov. 12. After getting medical clearance to play, Nelson completed 25-of-37 passes and also threw three touchdowns in the win against Hawaii.
Third quarter dominance
During the third quarter, the Cougars scored four consecutive touchdowns to take the lead, 38-13. Nelson threw two touchdown passes, senior running back Brian Kariya ran for one score and junior defensive back Joe Sampson recovered a Hawaii fumble and returned it 26 yards for six points. It was the most points scored for BYU in a quarter since scoring 35 in the second period against UCLA in 2008 in a 59-0 Cougar win.
Sharing the love
The Cougars got many different players involved in Saturday night’s game. Five different BYU running backs ran for more than 10 yards. Four players had more than 50 receiving yards, including a huge night from sophomore Cody Hoffman, who had 123 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Hawaii was the first to put points on the board as sophomore quarterback David Graves ran for 1 yard to get into the end zone. However, senior kicker Kenton Chun missed the PAT. The Warriors have missed six PATs this season.
BYU also struggled getting the ball through the uprights. Sophomore Justin Sorensen missed two consecutive field goals in the first half, the first from 48 yards and the second 38 yards away. Sorensen hit field goals of 33 and 36 yards later in the game.
Hawaii came into Saturday’s game with a 6-6 record. The Warriors, who finished 10-3 last season, needed to beat the Cougars to become bowl eligible. BYU’s next game will be on Dec. 30 in the Armed Forces Bowl against Tulsa, who has an 8-4 record.