After a tough battle and nail-biting fourth quarter, BYU took a 16-21 loss on the iconic blue turf.
Since the series between BYU and Boise State University began, the Cougars have only come out on top twice; once in 2013 and again in 2015. Neither of these wins has been on the road. Although the Cougars fought hard, a solid Boise State defense and a slew of penalties kept the game from going in BYU’s favor.
The face-off began with a kick return that took BYU to its 13-yard line, giving the Cougars poor field position to start their drive.
A tough Boise State defense held BYU’s opening drive to a fourth down and punt and set Boise State up at the Cougars’ 45-yard line. When a long bomb by Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien connected with sophomore receiver CT Thomas, the Broncos continued their drive and run in their first touchdown, bringing the score to 7-0.
BYU fullback Brayden El-Bakri helped start the next BYU drive off strong; however, after a promising drive, a sack by Boise State defensive end Curtis Weaver slowed the Cougars’ momentum.
Freshman Skyler Southam attempted a career-long field goal of 48 yards, but it came up just short of the uprights. Southam is a recently returned missionary who signed to BYU back in 2016. Rated a three-star prospect out of high school, Southam is proving his worth on the team during his freshman tenure and has made seven of his 11 field goal attempts so far this season.
A critical penalty by the BYU defense allowed Boise State to convert a 10-play drive into a touchdown, bringing the score to 13-0. On the kick off return, Sione Finau fumbled the ball and returned possession to the Broncos.
BYU junior defensive lineman Trajan Pili got a sack, helping the Cougars’ defense hold the Broncos to field goal range. After an unsuccessful field goal attempt, BYU took possession once again.
A series of short runs gave BYU quarterback Zach Wilson time to complete passes to receivers Aleva Hifo and Neil Pau’u. Squally Canada saw action as well, carrying his first ball of the night.
Wilson continued the momentum, completing first down conversions with passes to freshman Gunner Romney and junior Talon Shumway, however, that momentum halted when Wilson was unexpectedly substituted out for freshman quarterback Jaren Hall for an attempt at a wildcat play. After Hall was sacked, it brought BYU to 3rd and goal.
Southam converted the field goal and brought the score to 14-3.
With nine minutes left in the first half, Michael Shelton picked off the ball for a BYU interception. Wilson showed off the throwing arm that got him 14 Division I offers, including one from rival Boise State University, but three back-to-back sacks by the Broncos halted BYU once again. Another successful field goal by Southam brought the score to 14-6.
John Hightower of Boise State took a kick return all the way to the end zone before a Broncos penalty called back the run and allowed BYU to hold Boise State to their 22-yard line.
The half looked like it would finish with a Cougar possession, but Boise State recovered a fumble that kept BYU from adding more points to the board.
In the second half, a fumble by Boise State quarterback Rypien was recovered by BYU senior linebacker Rhett Sandlin.
Sandlin’s fumble recovery began a five-play drive that ended in another rushing touchdown for Wilson, which brought his 2018 season touchdown count to four.
BYU defense then began what would become a tough 16-play drive ending in another Boise State touchdown, which brought the score to 21-13. When the Cougars got the ball back, a fumble by Matt Bushman was recovered and the third quarter ended with a Boise State possession.
As the fourth quarter began, the Cougars were determined to put more points on the board. Wilson showed impressive duality at quarterback, putting a 23-yard run under his belt that helped the team get into field goal range.
The successful attempt brought the score to 12-16, however, as the final quarter drew to a close, the Cougars couldn’t break through the Broncos’ defense and win the game.
BYU’s defense, ranked No. 26, played a hard-fought game, combatting Boise State’s offense and holding it to just 113 rushing yards. Sione Takitaki was a standout, with 11 total tackles. Riggs Powell was close behind with seven tackles.
Wilson totaled 252 yards in his third start at quarterback, bringing his career yard count to 718.
Although BYU lost this battle on The Blue, there is still hope for the 4-5 Cougars to become bowl eligible this season. BYU faces the University of Massachusetts on the road Saturday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m.