There are a whole range of emotions throughout the course of a football game, and BYU’s 42-35 defeat at the hands of Nevada was no different. In order to best examine the night’s most compelling moments, I decided to compile my first “gameday running diary,” with notes starting at pregame and running through to the final whistle.
15:00 until kickoff: If there’s one thing BYU football will always be able to count on in this age of dwindling fan attendance, it’s the Power of the Wasatch, ready to perform rain or shine. Hats off to you, Cougar marching band.
10:00 until kickoff: Give me a “C,” give me an “O,” give me a “U,” give me a “G,” give me an “A,” give me an “R,” and give me an “S,” what does that spell?!?!?!!??!?!??
7:20 until kickoff: I’m dying to know what kind of shenanigans the event staff has up its sleeves for Homecoming. Don’t look now, but there are four giant nets filled with blue and white balloons in the south end zone.
4:30 until kickoff: “And here come your BYU Cougars!” with fireworks and a balloon release! Plus, don’t forget the historic ROC rock players get to touch before running out onto the field.
15:00 1st quarter: BYU elects to defer. The game’s most interesting matchup will be this banged-up Cougar defense against talented Nevada senior quarterback Cody Fajardo.
14:22 1st quarter: Linebacker Harvey Langi unnecessarily slaps Fajardo in the helmet for a 15-yard “roughing the passer” penalty. BYU’s penalty problems still seem to be an issue. They currently rank No. 123 nationally in penalty yards per game.
12:18 1st quarter: Great third down play-call for Nevada. BYU’s front four quickly got into the backfield, but Fajardo was able to find his back on a screen pass for big yards.
11:23 1st quarter: Nice pass breakup from Robertson Daniel. Brings up a 43-yard field goal attempt…
11:19 1st quarter: Drilled it. Eleven plays, a 49-yard scoring drive to open up the game. Pressure’s now on Christian Stewart.
BYU 0 Nevada 3
11:13 1st quarter: Seeing BYU’s kick return unit without Adam Hine back deep is depressing. It always felt like there was a real chance of him going all the way whenever the ball was in his hands.
11:07 1st quarter: OK so two of Nevada’s defensive players just did this type of somersault roll as they set up on the field. Not to be outdone, BYU’s offense holds hands before crouching down to run onto the field together.
10:02 1st quarter: Fans want a pass-interference call as Stewart’s third down throw to Mitch Mathews falls incomplete. Looked like a good coverage.
(Commercial break): Some random fan kicks and makes the Great Clips “kick-for-a-cheap-haircut” promo deal. Wouldn’t it be the greatest moment in Great Clips’ “kick-for-a-cheap-haircut” promo history if the participating fans faked the field goal, rolled out and threw a touchdown in place of attempting the kick?
7:19 1st quarter: Fajardo has all day to deliver a throw to receiver Richie Turner, who drops the ball. Cougars will start their next drive off from the three yard line after a terrific Nevada punt.
7:03 Commercial break: More pre-snap somersaults from the Nevada defense. I’ve never seen this at a football game before.
7:03 1st quarter: Nice pitch and catch to Devin Mahina, whose career seems to have been resurrected by the emergence of Stewart.
5:17 1st quarter: Bronco’s going for it on 4th-and-7!?!? Stewart completes a pass to Mitch Matthews for 15 yards and a Grandma Sycamore first down conversion. Cougar fans approve.
4:40 1st quarter: Stewart misses a wide-open Terenn Houk on a fade to the end zone. Wouldn’t have mattered anyway since Mathews is called for offensive pass interference.
4:33 1st quarter: And Mathews redeems himself on 23-yard reception down to the 1-yard line! Cougar fans anticipate a score right here.
4:04 1st quarter: Paul Lasike dives right up the middle for the touchdown. Aside from the miss to Houk, Stewart is looking really sharp.
BYU 7 Nevada 3
3:53 1st quarter: Fajardo pumps and throws deep, but the pass is slightly underthrown, allowing BYU’s secondary to recover. You could feel the entire stadium hold their breath as Fajardo launched that ball.
2:21 1st quarter: Good pass protection from the Cougar offensive line as Stewart shows off his wheels in scrambling for the first down.
00:33 1st quarter: Bronco’s going for it AGAIN on fourth down? Jordan Leslie rewards the call by pulling in a six-yard pass for the first down. Cougar fans approve.
End of 1st quarter: Stewart is no Taysom, but he does show the mobility to run for first downs against man coverage. So far he’s been delivering crisp, well-timed passes.
14:49 2nd quarter: Devin Mahina occupies the attention of multiple Nevada defenders in the middle of the field, leaving Lasike wide open on the swing route. There’s no stopping him once he begins barreling the remaining 20 yards into the end zone.
BYU 14 Nevada 3
14:08 2nd quarter: The Nevada offense continues to find success on screen plays; this time running back Don Jackson catches the ball and takes it 66 yards to the BYU 9-yard line.
13:48 2nd quarter: James Butler “supermans” his way over the pylon and into the end zone. Nevada went 75 yards in three plays and 61 seconds. A HUGE response to the Cougars’ long touchdown drive.
BYU 14 Nevada 10
13:37 2nd quarter: With Jamaal Williams, Hine and now Algie Brown out of the lineup, what do you do? Obviously, you turn to Nate Carter, who has impressed so far when running the football.
11:54 2nd quarter: Stewart finds Mathews for his patented “corner-of-the-end zone” touchdown reception. Is it just me, or does it seem that Matthews holds a monopoly over corner end zone scores?
BYU 21 Nevada 10
11:48 2nd quarter: Andrew Mikkelsen kicks the ball out of bounds — but hey, at least they weren’t offsides.
(Commercial break): Really, we’re going to start up the Costa Vida Wave right before this crucial 4th and 2? I understand you’ve got advertisers to please, but right now?
8:41 2nd quarter: Just as the wave is dying down, Fajardo rolls right and finds Richie Turner for the first down.
5:32 2nd quarter: BIG pass breakup from Bronson Kaufusi on third down, forcing a Nevada field goal. This has to be considered a win for BYU’s defense.
BYU 21 Nevada 13
4:25 2nd quarter: Ladies and gentlemen, now introducing from St. George, Utah, star running back Nate Carter!
4:06 2nd quarter: Nate Carter’s 11-yard run results in another Grandma Sycamore first down!
2:45 2nd quarter: Bronco’s going for it on fourth down THREE times in a row?!? Paul Lasike rewards the call by picking up five yards and a first down. Cougar fans approve.
1:07 2nd quarter: Mathews breaks his “I-only-catch-touchdowns-in-the-corners” streak and scores on an 11-yard crossing route.
BYU 28 Nevada 13
Halftime: Stewart is unexpectedly outplaying Fajardo. Stewart was 17-for-31, throwing for 216 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
14:54 3rd quarter: BYU can pretty much put this game on ice with a touchdown drive here.
14:14 3rd quarter: Stewart spins out of the pocket and delivers a sweet 22-yard strike to Mathews.
13:58 3rd quarter: Is it too early to start a Carter-for-Heisman campaign?
13:26 3rd quarter: Stewart’s third down pass to Mathews was there, but good coverage from Nevada’s secondary leads to a field goal attempt.
13:20 3rd quarter: Trevor Samson’s miss from 44 yards out keeps Nevada in the game. Let’s see if Fajardo can capitalize.
11:42 3rd quarter: Screen plays on third down are eating the Cougar defense alive.
10:12 3rd quarter: Crazy 3rd-and-18 play where Fajardo spins twice out of a sack, runs back to the near sideline and finds his receiver to set up a 4th-and-3.
9:36 3rd quarter: Once again Fajardo finds his running back out of the backfield to convert the fourth down.
8:40 3rd quarter: Fajardo’s doing his best Collin Kaepernick impersonation and is able to find the end zone from a yard out. After having the chance to push the lead to three scores in the second half, BYU now finds itself in a one-possession game.
BYU 28 Nevada 20
So the stadium’s scoreboard clock has malfunctioned, and no one except for the referees knows exactly how much time is on the clock.
Sometime in the third quarter: BYU and Nevada trade punts, the Cougars start their next drive at their own 11-yard line as they try to retake a commanding lead.
Sometime in the third quarter: Carter is just being his usual self as he rips off another 20-yard run. We’ve really come to expect that from him.
Sometime in the third quarter: On the fringe of the Ford-something-or-other Blue Zone, the Cougar offense does this weird play where Stewart laterals the ball four yards back to Houk, who fumbles. Nevada linebacker Brock Hecking scoops it up and returns it back into BYU territory.
Now entering the 4th quarter: Nevada converts two more 4th-down conversions, making them 4-of-4 on the night.
Somewhere in the 4th quarter: Nevada wide receiver Richie Turner is money! Following a tough grab on 4th-down, Turner hauls in an 18-yard touchdown pass on a double move to the back of the end zone.
BYU 28 Nevada 26
Just before the two-point attempt: I bet you anything Fajardo rolls right and throws to his running back out of the backfield.
Two-point conversion: Fajardo rolls right and throws to receiver Hasaan Henderson to tie the game. But hey, BYU got its scoreboard fixed. We’ll take that as a moral victory.
BYU 28 Nevada 28
11:18 4th quarter: All of the momentum is on the Wolf Pack’s sideline, but you’ve gotta believe that these are the kind of moments Stewart was made for.
10:52 4th quarter: Stewart makes a man miss as he scrambles up the middle for yet another Grandma Sycamore first down.
10:06 4th quarter: Stewart has nowhere to go with the football and is sacked! To make matters worse, an unsportsmanlike penalty is called on BYU center Tejan Koroma. A 20-yard punt return from Richie Turner sets Nevada up in Cougar territory at the 49-yard line.
9:48 4th quarter: If you’re keeping score (and, unfortunately for BYU, they were), BYU hasn’t scored this half.
9:00 4th quarter: A Nevada tight end sneaks out of the backfield and catches a pass for another third-down conversion. BYU’s defense can’t get off the field — that’s the Wolf Pack’s seventh third-down conversion (to go along with four fourth-down conversions).
7:44 4th quarter: Fajardo avoids pressure from his side and sprints 25 yards up the middle for the touchdown.
BYU 28 Nevada 35
7:34 4th quarter: The anger in the stadium is palpable. But guys, remember: you’ve gotta believe these are the moments Stewart was made for!
7:20 4th quarter: Stewart is sacked and fumbles the ball into the arms of Nevada linebacker Matthew Lyons.
7:02 4th quarter: Really, Cougar fans, you’re leaving already? Sure, things look bleak, but there’s still a lot of football left to play.
6:01 4th quarter: James Butler runs from six yards out for the touchdown. BYU’s been outscored 29-0 in the second half. The fans are really pouring out now. I don’t think Bronco will be pleased.
BYU 28 Nevada 42
3:33 4th quarter: Bronco’s going for it on fourth down again. Only he really has no choice. I’m sure Cougar fans would approve — if they were still here in the stadium. Stewart finds Houk for nine yards on 4th and 8 to keep the drive alive.
2:40 4th quarter: Stewart gets drilled but stands strong and delivers a touchdown strike to Keanu Nelson.
BYU 35 Nevada 42
Just following the touchdown: So do you onside kick it or kick deep and play defense? You have two timeouts, but BYU’s defense hasn’t exactly been lights out against Fajardo this half. I think you’ve gotta go with the onside kick here. As long as you don’t jump offsides …
2:34 4th quarter: … And BYU goes offsides. No recovery was made anyway. It’s Nevada’s ball, 1st and 10 at the BYU 40. Still enough time to get the ball back with a stop …
2:21 4th quarter: Fajardo is stopped! BYU will get the ball with about 1:30 left and a chance to tie (or win). This is why you don’t leave the game with seven minutes left.
1:30 4th quarter: “What if I told you … that BYU came back from down 14 to tie Nevada, but no one was in the stadium to see it? ESPN 30-for-30 presents “Day or Night: Rain or Snow?” this Saturday, 11:50 p.m. on ESPN2.
00:53 4th quarter: The Stewart-to-Mathews connection is on fire. Nevada’s soft prevent is basically giving BYU 10-yard completions. Cougars are driving …
00:49 4th quarter: Nevada strips a scrambling Stewart of the football. Game over. Valiant effort by Stewart. But you’re not going to win many games when the offense gives up three turnovers while the defense forces none.
FINAL: BYU 35 Nevada 42