Late surge not enough as BYU football falls in home opener

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Ari Davis
Taysom Hill throws the ball against UCLA. Hill finished with 250 passing yards. (Ari Davis)

The BYU football team fell in its home opener on Saturday as UCLA defeated the Cougars 17-14.

“It was a tough loss,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “We’ve got some things we need to work through.”

Quarterback Taysom Hill started off BYU’s first drive with a 39-yard completion to Jamaal Williams, but the Cougars ultimately failed to reach the end zone, turning the ball over on downs.

An interception by Fred Warner put the pressure on UCLA midway through the first quarter after a series of three-and-out drives. But again BYU was unable to cash in on the error and the drive ended with a punt.

UCLA came back strong toward the end of the first quarter and pushed into the end-zone within the first minutes of the second quarter. Quarterback Josh Rosen finished the 12-play drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to full-back Cameron Griffin.

A short drive by the Cougars resulted in a UCLA interception by safety Adarius Pickett. But BYU would not allow the Bruins to reach the end-zone. UCLA settled for a 24-yard field goal by kicker JJ Molson.

BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd was blocked on a 55-yard field goal attempt with two seconds left in the first half. The block was credited to Eli Ankou.

The half-time score was 10-0 in favor of UCLA.

Ari Davis
Fred Warner celebrates with Francis Bernard after intercepting a pass. (Ari Davis)

The Bruins put up six more points with a 33-yard pass from Rosen to wide receiver Darren Andrews. The score with 7:24 left in the third quarter was 17-0 after the Bruins’ successful extra point.

The Cougars were a rejuvenated team following the UCLA touchdown. Hill balanced running and throwing for a successful 75-yard drive into the end-zone. Williams capped off the drive with a goal-line reach for a one-yard touchdown run.

After the extra point, the score was  17-7.

The Cougars started the fourth quarter by intimidating the UCLA offense into a missed 38-yard field goal attempt. It was Molson’s second missed field goal of the season.

UCLA would spend the remainder of the game eating up the time, allowing BYU a final shot with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

BYU made the most of this opportunity by scoring a touchdown in less than a minute. The 91-yard drive was lead by a surging Hill, who would not go down without a fight. Hill completed a 23-yard pass to Nick Kurtz to finish the 9-play drive.

“We found some holes in their zone,” said Hill of the impressive fourth quarter drive.

The game would come to a close after an unsuccessful onside-kick attempt. Final score: UCLA 17, BYU 14.

BYU linebacker Butch Pau’u had a career-best 19 tackles, tying a single-game record.

The Cougars travel to West Virginia where they will have a shot at redemption against the Mountaineers on Saturday, Sept. 24.

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