The Cougars earned their fifth win of the season last Friday night, defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats 38-24 thanks to another strong fourth quarter performance.
Four of BYU’s five wins have come after tying or trailing their opponent at the start of the fourth quarter, including wins over Nebraska, Boise State, UConn, East Carolina and Cincinnati. The Cougars have outscored opponents 84-34 in the fourth quarter thus far.
“I think their urgency increases, I think their determination increases, I think their concentration increases and their execution (as well),” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said following the victory. “So, that might just be the identity of this team. It’s hard on us all, I think, but the outcome right now is pretty good.”
BYU’s defense was invaluable in the Cougars’ victory. The unit started off slow before picking up the tempo and holding the Bearcats to just 136 yards and one touchdown in the second half.
Senior defensive end Bronson Kaufusi led a defensive line that wrecked havoc against the Cincinnati offense. Kaufusi notched three sacks, forced a fumble and blocked a field goal.
Kaufusi and the Cougar defense was constantly in the face of Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore, tallying a season-high eight sacks.
“I feel like you can sense when a quarterback gets antsy, because he will give one check and then take off running, or look for a gap,” Kaufusi said. “You’ll see his eyes scrolling back and forth. That’s what we want. It was nice to be able to cause that.”
Cincinnati had only allowed six sacks their entire season prior to playing BYU. The Cougars shutout Cincinnati in the fourth quarter. Moore was visibly anxious in the pocket after battling the Cougar defense for three quarters.
The BYU offense started off slow, and trailed 17-3 throughout most of the first half. Quarterback Tanner Mangum completed only five passes for 80 yards and an interception but came alive in the second half, completing 14-of-17 passing for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s all inside. It’s all in our hearts,” Mangum said. “We can’t control the fact that we are down — that’s already happened. The only thing that we can control is (the next) play.”
The BYU running game really came alive in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Running backs Algernon Brown and Francis Bernard carried most of the load for the Cougars, and both scored crucial fourth quarter touchdowns. Brown tied the game for the Cougars early in the fourth quarter. After a touchdown pass to a wide-open Nick Kurtz gave BYU the lead, Bernard sealed the victory on an 11-yard touchdown run.
“The fourth quarter comes around and everybody is just so pumped,” Brown said. “Guys just want to get on the field and make plays.”
“Resilient” is the word that comes to mind when describing BYU team this year. They never seem to quit or give up hope.
“We just keep playing and believing,” Mangum said. “We know that the game is never over, and we just keep fighting.”