On Utah State’s first offensive play from scrimmage, quarterback Chuckie Keeton threw a pass intended for his wide receiver. Unfortunately for Keeton, BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy got to the pass first and returned it 15 yards for the touchdown.
“It’s a great way to start off a game,” BYU safety Daniel Sorensen said. “[Van Noy is] the kind of guy and impact player that does that consistently in practice. He’s capable of those types of plays and it was just great to see him do it in a game.”
Utah State answered later in the first quarter after BYU quarterback Taysom Hill fumbled on his own 15-yard line. Keeton took advantage of the turnover and threw a seven-yard strike to receiver Travis Van Leeuwen. Following the touchdown, BYU’s defense held strong and Utah State wouldn’t score again until the end of the fourth quarter.
“We really focused on the ball not being able to go around us or over the top of us,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “We’re willing just to be patient, and then try to knock as many balls down as possible on the quick game.”
Things then went from bad to worse for Utah State late in the first quarter. Keeton’s legs rolled up underneath him while being tackled trying to convert on a third-and-long scramble. Romney Stadium fell silent as fans watched Keeton roll around on the turf in pain. He was eventually helped into the locker room, and returned to the sideline on crutches.
Keeton tore his ACL and MCL, which will end his season. He will miss eight months while recovering.
“I’m really so sad to see Chuckie get hurt,” Mendenhall said. “I could tell right at the beginning by the sound he made that he wasn’t going to be good. I’m hopeful he can return and lead his team.”
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, who has struggled with pass efficiency this season, had his best passing game of the year. He ended the game with career highs 278 yards and three touchdown passes. All three touchdowns were thrown to sophomore receiver Mitch Mathews, who hadn’t caught a touchdown in his career until the contest against the Aggies. On top of the three touchdowns, Mathews led the Cougars with five catches and 112 yards receiving.
“I knew we always we had this potential, and I was just kinda waiting for a break out performance,” BYU quarterback Taysom Hill said. “We made a few changes offensively in our passing scheme this week and it paid off.”
Georgia Tech comes to Provo this weekend, and players say they can’t afford to celebrate the win over Utah State for too long.
“We can’t get too high on this game,” BYU receiver Mitch Mathews said. “This is a game that we needed to spring board us to our next game.”
The Cougars will play a Yellow Jackets team that challenged No. 15 ranked Miami for more than three quarters before falling 45-30. Georgia Tech also lost to Virginia Tech earlier in the season, but is 3-2 overall. The Cougars defeated the Yellow Jackets last season 41-17.
The Yellow Jackets are the fourth straight team to enter their game versus BYU sporting a winning record. Five of BYU’s seven remaining opponents are over .500 to this point in the season.