BYU football’s record fell to 2-3 as it lost to Toledo on Sept. 28, and BYU starting quarterback Zach Wilson injured his hand during the game. The diagnosis is unclear, but head coach Kalani Sitake indicated that the hand injury seems significant and that Jaren Hall will be the likely starter in the upcoming game against Florida.
The ball changed hands several times during the first quarter. During BYU’s second drive of the game, Wilson hit Gunner Romney with a 43-yard pass. Unfortunately, this pass was followed by three straight incompletions that ended BYU’s drive.
Toledo quarterback Mitchell Guadagni sent off a 17-yard pass to Danzel McKinley-Lewis, but on the next pass, he was picked off by BYU’s Payton Wilgar, who returned the ball nine yards. BYU was unable to take advantage of the play, however, and ended up punting the ball back to Toledo just before the end of the quarter.
A 12-yard run by Guadagni was the farthest moving play in their drive, but little by little they made their way into the red zone, where they settled for a 45-yard field goal by Evan Davis. With 11:02 left in the half, the score was 3-0.
Wilson threw the ball down the field in a series of short passes, the longest of which was 17 yards and caught by Matt Bushman. BYU also went for a field goal, but the 39-yard attempt by Jake Oldroyd swung left and bounced off the side of the upright.
After just a few plays, Toledo gave the ball back to BYU with a 54-yard punt, which was caught and returned 45 yards by Aleva Hifo. A 7-yard run by Emmanuel Esupka and a 1-yard run by Wilson were then followed by a 32-yard run into the endzone by Esupka, giving BYU a 10-7 lead.
The Cougars’ next drive started strong with a 23-yard connection to Bushman. They continued down the field and put themselves in the red zone, but following three consecutive incomplete passes, Oldroyd took to the field for another field goal attempt, this time from the 42-yard line. Oldroyd missed his second kick of the game, surprising fans who are accustomed to his game-winning kicks. After an unsuccessful Toledo drive, the teams went into the locker rooms.
BYU came out of the locker room ready to take the field, and three plays in Zach Wilson shot the ball into the hands of Aleva Hifo who narrowly avoided stepping out of bounds and ran straight down the field for a 75-yard gain that took him to the end zone. With 14:40 left in third quarter, BYU was ahead 14-3.
Kicker Skyler Southam came out for a 65-yard kickoff. The Rockets started moving down the field a few yards at a time, eventually putting themselves 26 yards from the end zone. They would settle for a field goal from Davis, decreasing BYU’s lead and putting the score at 14-6 with 9:44 left in the quarter.
Things didn’t improve from there for BYU. The Cougars’ following drive ended quickly with a 42-yard punt from Oldroyd, and the Rockets started off with a 19-yard rush from Guadagni. This began a long drive that ended in an 18-yard touchdown pass to running back Shakif Seymour. The Rockets risked a two-point conversion and tied the game at 14-14 with 3:57 left in the quarter.
BYU’s following drive ended quickly with a 32-yard punt from Oldroyd, but it was extended when Devin Maddox fumbled the fair catch and the ball was recovered by BYU’s defensive back Dayan Ghanwoloku on the 26-yard line.
The Cougars capitalized on an opportunity. A 17-yard rush from Esukpa along with a face mask penalty against Toledo put BYU on the 3-yard line. Aleva Hifo took the ball and forced his way through the Rockets’ defense for a touchdown, giving the Cougars a seven-point lead with 2:08 left in the quarter.
Ronnie Jones returned Southam’s 60-yard kick 25 yards. Seymour managed to run the ball 30 yards in two plays, followed by a Desmond Phillips 28-yard reception. The Rockets found themselves on a second and 20 as result of a blindside block penalty but still managed to push forward as the third quarter came to a close.
The fourth quarter started with a touchdown from Toledo which tied the score 21-21 with 14:12 left in the game.
BYU ended their following drive with a punt, and Toledo quickly punted the ball right back. After a 27-yard pass to wide receiver Dax Milne, BYU was unable to continue moving forward and attempted a risky and unsuccessful fourth and six, causing the team to turn the ball over on downs.
As Toledo came close to the endzone again, BYU surprised everyone when linebacker Chaz Ah You stripped the ball from Toledo’s Bryant Koback at the BYU 20-yard line. The excitement was short-lived, however, as on the next play Wilson was picked off by Toledo’s Robinson Kahlil who returned the ball 40 yards and put the Rockets on the 2-yard line. This was the play that forced Wilson to exit with a hand injury.
A quick push from the Toledo offense put the ball over the line and with 51 seconds left in the game, the score was 28-21.
BYU tried to push back down the field with Hall at the helm of the BYU offense. After a few plays put them into the offensive side of the 50-yard line, Hall’s last-ditch effort to tie the game ended with a ball that landed out of bounds. The game ended with a score of 28-21, and Toledo walked away with the victory.
Prior to his injury, Wilson went 22 of 38 for 315 yards, adding two touchdowns and an interception. Esukpa carried most of the load on the ground with Ty’Son Williams out due to an ACL injury, finishing the game with 61 yards and a touchdown. Hifo did most of the damage through the air for BYU, recording five receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, Kavika Fonua continued his standout season with 10 total tackles, while Ghanwoloku added eight of his own.
BYU will take a one week break before heading to Florida for a matchup against the University of South Florida on November 2. BYU has never won a football game in Florida, posting an 0-5 record.