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The BYU Cougars faced the Cincinnati Bearcats for the first time in program history on Friday night. The Cougars came out victorious with yet another fourth quarter win and beat the Bearcats 38-24.
This BYU football season has been full of fourth quarter wins. The Cougars have been tied or trailing in all five victories this season yet have outscored their opponents 84-34 in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars tied the Cincinnati game 24-24 in the fourth quarter after trailing the Bearcats the entire game. Running back Algernon Brown rushed for a touchdown that also tied the offenses at 349 yards. This was Brown’s second touchdown of the night and sixth in the past two games.
With 8:14 remaining in the game, Tanner Mangum found wide receiver Nick Kurtz open and connected for a 53-yard touchdown. This gave BYU the lead for the first time in the game at 31-24. Francis Bernard also had a touchdown in the fourth quarter with an 11-yard touchdown run and Garrett Juergens had a 39-yard return on a 53-yard punt.
“We just keep playing and keep believing,” Mangum said following the game. “We know that the game is never over, and we just keep fighting. We stay positive, no matter what, we just keep helping each other because we know the fourth quarter is the time to come through and finish the game.”
The Cougars finished the game with eight sacks and 13 tackles for loss. This sack total tied the No. 2 single-game mark in school history. The last time was against Kansas state in the 1997 Cotton Bowl. Bronson Kaufusi had a career high of three sacks. BYU’s offense didn’t give up any sacks for the first time since Savannah State last year.
The 38-24 win will keep Cougar fans happy for another couple of weeks, but it came as a surprise after BYU struggled through the first three quarters.
Cincinnati managed to score a field goal on the opening drive of the game. This was the first time an opponent has scored on an opening drive against the Cougars since the season opener at Nebraska. Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore found receivers wide open and the Bearcats scored again with a touchdown before the end of the first quarter. They had a total of 205 yards in the first quarter while BYU only had 19.
Kaufusi blocked a 58-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter. BYU’s offense used this turnover to get on the board with a 27-yard field goal. BYU couldn’t quite hold onto this potential shift in momentum as a pass from Mangum was tipped and intercepted. The Bearcats used that possession to score again, bringing the score to 17-3.
The Cougars scored their first touchdown late in the second quarter with a 5-yard rush from Brown.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the third quarter and the Cougars felt the effects of several penalties.
Many questioned Mangum’s status after he sustained a hamstring injury last week during the game against East Carolina. BYU’s passing game struggled in the first half with quite a few dropped balls and under-thrown passes. Mangum was 5-15 for 80 yards in the first half and struggled with his hamstring. In the second half he came back and showed some Cougar resiliency by throwing 14-17 for 172 yards with two touchdowns.
“It’s amazing. You can just feel the sideline ignite,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said following the win. “We were determined. I think what’s happening right now is that we’ve been in the situation enough times that there kind of isn’t doubt, there’s an optimism. They just think they’re going to win. We prepare really hard mentally at a high level. I think they trust us, but I also think they trust each other and I can’t do that for them.”