On the surface, losing a seventh game in a row to an East Carolina team with a 1-6 record does not bring up many positive thoughts; but BYU found a way to give hope to fans in a hopeless place.
“We had some good moments and we had some positive yards,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “But the scoreboard doesn’t indicate a lot of the positive things we saw.”
Among these positive takeaways are a season-high 421 yards of total offense and 319 passing yards, the most since playing Southern Utah University in 2016.
The Cougars held the ball for the majority of the game, and limited themselves to only one turnover, but couldn’t seem to find the end zone.
In most of the important stats, including yards and first downs, BYU and ECU were dead even, but the scoring was anything but even.
The Cougars started out the game strong midway through the first quarter when Tanner Mangum found Micah Simon for his first touchdown reception of the year.
ECU responded minutes later, however, with a touchdown of their own.
Each team’s defense did its jobs in the second quarter, limiting the offenses to a field goal to end the first half with the score tied at 10-10.
ECU went on to kick three field goals in the third quarter and tacked on two touchdowns in the fourth.
BYU wasn’t able to score until the final minutes of the fourth quarter when Matt Bushman caught his first touchdown pass of the season.
By then it was too late, however, and the Cougars once again found themselves adding to their growing loss column on the season.
This year’s team is now tied with the 1968 Cougars, who also started 1-7, for the worst losing streak in BYU football history.
Now that they find themselves out of consideration for a bowl game, the Cougars have to find a new motivation and goal to work towards.
“Now we have to rally back and find a way to keep playing and keep competing and work for the seniors for the rest of the season,” Sitake said.
The Cougars will return home for their next game against San Jose State, who also find themselves in a 1-7 hole this season.
ESPN gives BYU an 86.6 percent chance of winning, with home field advantage and a much more potent offense.
As we saw against ECU, however overwhelming odds and past success do not guarantee a victory.
SJSU is scoring an average of 16.4 points a game, beating a stagnant BYU offense that is only putting an average of 12.1 points on the board.
While Simon and Bushman’s first touchdowns were great signs for the BYU offense, the real revelation in the passing game was Aleva Hifo, the first BYU receiver to accumulate over 200 yards in a game since Mitch Matthews.
BYU will look to rally back for a win Saturday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. MDT at Lavell Edwards Stadium against San Jose State University.