The BYU football team shellacked Southern Utah 37-7 on Saturday afternoon in Provo. The Cougars also accepted an invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl after the game.
Quarterback Taysom Hill didn’t waste any time putting points on the board for BYU. The first drive lasted about 20 seconds and was just two plays. Hill completed a long pass to Mitch Juergens and then ran in a 16-yard touchdown.
“For the most part, we started fast,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I like the way we started. We just got to be able to sustain it for all four quarters. We weren’t able to do that for the full 60 minutes, but we’ll work on it and get better.”
Hill completed a 31-yard pass to Nick Kurtz deep in the end zone for his first passing touchdown of the day. Rhett Almond knocked in the PAT and the Cougars led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
“The receivers and I were on the same page,” Hill said. “It was a good stepping stone for the rest of the season.”
Tanner Mangum took a few snaps in the second quarter, but was pulled out for Hill once again. Following a 28-yard field goal from Almond, the fifth-year quarterback came back strong with a few keeper runs and a touchdown pass to Colby Pearson.
“It was just fun being able to get out there with the guys, get the blood pumping,” said Mangum. “It’s a good learning experience, it’s good to get out there and play again.”
Mangum would play for most of the second half and completed 11-of-13 passes.
The Thunderbirds came back with a touchdown of their own before the two-minute mark in the second quarter. Quarterback Patrick Tyler completed a 17-yard pass in the middle to Logan Parker to find the end zone for SUU. KJ Hall followed up the Thunderbird touchdown with a 32-yard reception and a two-yard rushing touchdown of his own.
“I was just happy I was able to be out there in the first place,” Hall said. “But it was pretty cool to get in the end zone.”
The score at halftime was 31-7 in favor of the Cougars.
The highlight of the scoreless third quarter was a one-handed interception by Eric Takenaka, putting the Cougars near the BYU 40-yard line.
Almond kicked in successful 30 and 25-yard field goals in the fourth quarter to cap off the game.
The final score: 37-7
Hill threw for 320 yards in the game, his first 300-yard passing game since the 2014 season opener against UConn. The leading rusher for the Cougars was KJ Hall with 59 yards and his first career touchdown. Mangum, who is mostly known for his strong arm, had 42 rushing yards on the game.
“I think (Mangum) was trying to show us that he can run the ball a little bit too,” Sitake said. “He’s a great athlete. We look forward to him leading this team at the quarterback position, and I think he’s got a lot of ability.”
Following the game, Tom Holmoe accepted an invitation to the 2016 San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on December 21. This will be the 12th straight bowl game for the Cougars, who are one of eight teams with a streak of at least 12 consecutive bowl games.
“It’s a big reward for us,” Hill said “It’s a big payday to know that we’re going to San Diego. Getting ready for a bowl game is huge, so we’re excited about it. We’re certainly not content with where we’re at, but we’re happy.”
BYU hosts the UMass Minutemen at LaVell Edwards Stadium next Saturday at 1:00 p.m. MST.