Hadley returns as BYU downs Georgia Tech in Provo

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BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley was able to rejoin his teammates on the field Saturday after sitting out three games with a suspension as the Cougars beat Georgia Tech 38–20.

“It felt amazing to be able to be out there with the guys and just to be able to contribute in any way possible,” Hadley said. “It’s just good to be back. … It’s just good to be back.”

Linebacker Spencer Hadley jumps over Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee after earning a sack in his first game back from suspension. Photo by Samantha Paskins
Linebacker Spencer Hadley jumps over Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee after earning a sack in his first game back from suspension. (Photo by Samantha Paskins)

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall received a call from the BYU athletic department Wednesday saying Hadley had been cleared to play after only serving three of a five-game suspension. However, it was unclear if Mendenhall would insert Hadley into the game after the team had already practiced twice during the week without him.

“We already had two practices under our belt, and we didn’t want to switch people because it’s hard to learn even one spot against the option, let alone two,” Mendenhall said. “He’s experienced, he’s tough, he’s a good leader, and he cares a lot. He plays with his heart, and so it was great to have a phone call on Wednesday from our athletic director and from the University saying that he’s met all of his obligations and (that) they’d lifted their suspensions early.”

Hadley didn’t start but was able to play significant minutes against the Yellow Jackets. He had a solid game that included a sack and a fumble recovery. His teammates were glad to have him back.

“It was so nice having him (Hadley) out there,” said BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi. “You can definitely tell when he’s gone and when he’s back.”

The first half of Saturday’s game at Lavell Edwards Stadium had all the signs of an offensive shootout. Both BYU and Georgia Tech were marching down the field with little resistance from the opposing defense. However, the second half was a different story after both teams made multiple defensive adjustments.

“I thought that it was kind of a tale of two halves,” said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. “Our first half, defensively, we couldn’t get out of our own way. Offensively, we had a bunch of penalties, but we managed to move the ball a little bit. In the second half, we got squared away defensively, and we made some plays and got down the field, but we couldn’t finish a drive or do anything offensively.”

After going into halftime up 24–13, BYU’s offense completely stalled. It took a 51-yard interception returned for a touchdown by linebacker Alani Fua early in the fourth quarter to finally get some second-half points on the board. That turnover shifted the momentum toward the Cougars for the remainder of the game.

“You got to give credit to Georgia Tech,” said BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. “We tried to do a little too much, and we didn’t keep to our keys. We need to get better at that. Georgia Tech made some good second-half adjustments, and we need to be better at adjusting to what they do.”

With a win against Georgia Tech, BYU earns its fourth win on the season. The Cougars are only two wins from becoming bowl eligible for the ninth straight season and look to inch closer to that mark next week at undefeated Houston.

Houston has reeled off five straight wins, only one of which came by less than a touchdown — at home versus Rice in Week 3. BYU has never played Houston in football.

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