BYU kicked off its 2012 season as one of the featured ESPN games Thursday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium against Washington State in an all-Cougar showdown. At halftime, the BYU Cougars lead the Washington State Cougars 24-6. The Cougars came into tonight’s game favored by 11 points.
BYU welcomed back Washington State head coach Mike Leach who graduated with honors from BYU in 1983. He has thus far had a a successful coaching career, most recently at Texas Tech University where he led the Red Raiders to their highest ever ranking of #2 in the nation and 10 bowl games in 10 seasons.
The BYU Cougars came into the game looking to extend their streak of five consecutive season-opener victories.
Washington State held the early momentum in the game forcing BYU to punt on their first possession, and then promptly drove deep into BYU territory. A stingy BYU defense, however, prevented a Washington State score as senior linebacker Uona Kaveinga intercepted quarterback Jeff Tuel to swing the momentum.
Riley Nelson, quarterback for BYU, appeared to settle in from there. BYU displayed a new hurry-up offense and drove down the field in 10 plays in 2:37 for the first touchdown of the season. The touchdown reception was made by junior wide receiver Skyler Ridley, the first catch of his career.
The offense continued to click for BYU. On BYU’s next possession, on fourth-and-one in the red zone, freshman quarterback Taysom Hill was called on. He rolled right and the defense sucked in on him to leave junior tight end Kaneakua Friel wide-open for the easy score. It was Hill’s first pass attempt of his career.
Midway through the second quarter, Washington State got on the board with a 46 yard field goal to make the score 14-3, in favor of BYU.
Nelson continued to look comfortable as he would add another touchdown, this time 25 yards to Freil, at the 1:43 mark. He finished the half throwing 16-24 for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman stretched his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 20, but limped off the field early in BYU’s second possession. He did not return, and there was no word on his condition.
Washington State executed a two-minute drill aided by penalties to connect on a 41 yard field goal as the clock expired to make the score 24-6 at the half.
Light rain near the start of the game did nothing to damper the ruckus environment inside the stadium filled with fans who showed up in a white-out.