Austin Lee and the BYU defense celebrate in the endzone after picking off Idaho State’s quarterback. (Preston Crawley)

BYU beat Idaho State in a blowout game 42-10 on Saturday, Nov. 16. It was the final home game of the season and the last win the team needed to be eligible to play in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

Before the game, the Cougars welcomed their senior players onto the field for the last time. BYU will be losing eighteen seniors this year, including running back Ty’Son Williams who was accompanied onto the field by former running back Jamaal Williams who said he and Ty’Son have been friends since before Ty’Son came to BYU. Jamaal said he wanted to support him since he didn’t have anyone else to walk onto the field with.

Senior defensive back Austin Lee said that qualifying for the bowl game was especially exciting for him, not only because of the extra game he’ll get to play before leaving BYU football for good but also because it provides him with an opportunity to go to Hawaii with his wife and two children. His wife and children accompanied him onto the field at the beginning of the game.

“It’s been a blessing to be able to come out and make those types of memories and think and reflect upon all the memories that I’ve had in the stadium and all the relationships that I’ve developed,” Lee said.

According to BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake, there had been some debate as to whether to do the sendoff before the game or after, but he said he believes doing it before was the best option because it gave the players an opportunity to bond and reflect and then put those emotions into their game.

“A lot of those guys reflect on their time that they put into this program, and it went by really fast for a lot of them, so it’s an emotional time for them, but I thought they rallied around it and were able to play some sound football,” Sitake said.

The game started off with a 59-yard kickoff from Idaho State’s David Allish, which was returned 29 yards by Will Watanabe, putting the Cougars on the 35-yard line.

The drive ended with a 47-yard punt from Danny Jones after Zach Wilson was sacked for a six-yard loss. Wilson was BYU’s starting quarterback for the first time since injuring his thumb in a game against Toledo in September.

The two following drives ended with punts before the Bengals held the ball on their own 13-yard line. Quarterback Matt Struck threw an interception that was grabbed by Austin Lee on the Idaho State 26. Lee ran the ball in for a touchdown and with 9:12 left in the first quarter of the game giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead.

Idaho State’s next drive ended with a 44-yard punt from Kevin Ryan, which was returned five yards by Dax Milne.

BYU took the ball and after two runs by Sione Finau totaling 18 yards, Wilson connected with Micah Simon for 42 yards, but a holding penalty against the Cougars put them back 10-yards and voided the play. The drive ended a few plays later with a 46-yard punt by Jake Oldroyd.

The quarter came to an end without either team having put any more points on the board, and BYU started the second quarter of the game with the ball on the Idaho State 38-yard line. Slowly but surely, the Cougars moved down the field, and with 12:59 left in the half, Simon ran the ball 12 yards into the end zone putting the score at 14-0.

Micah Simon celebrates with his teammate following his touchdown against Idaho State. (Preston Crawley)

The Bengals started off their next drive with an impressive 40-yard pass to Michael Dean, putting them deep in BYU territory. Unable to continue forward, Idaho State sent Ryan onto the field for a 27-yard field goal that gave the Bengals their first points of the game and put the score at 14-3 with 9:46 left in the first half.

Simon carried the next drive with a 20-yard rush and a 19-yard reception, and Finau ended it with a 16-yard rush into the endzone. The 75-yard scoring drive took BYU 3:01 and upped the Cougars’ lead to 21-3 with 6:45 left in the half.

Sione Finau rushed into the end zone to extend BYU’s lead over Idaho State. (Preston Crawley)

The Bengals’ following drive ended with Ryan coming on for a punt, but it was blocked and recovered by BYU’s Watanabe at the Idaho State 27-yard line. A single pass to Talon Shumway put the ball in the endzone and the Cougars led 28-3 with five minutes left before halftime.

Malakai Rango carried the next drive for Idaho State, running a total of 37 yards for the team, but the Bengals fell short on fourth-and-one, resulting in a turnover on downs. BYU then took the ball into the red zone and just before the end of the half, Oldroyd came on to attempt a 38-yard field goal. The kick was no good and the score held at 28-3.

The offensive stat line at the end of the half was as lopsided as the score. Wilson had thrown for a total of 127 yards, and Finau — BYU’s top runner — had run 79 yards. Struck on the other hand had only thrown 83 yards, and the top runner for the Bengals, Rango, had totaled 63 yards by halftime.

The Bengals started the second half with the ball, but their drive lasted only five plays before Ryan came on for a 50-yard punt, which was returned 31 yards by Milne.

Jake Oldroyd kicks an extra point against Idaho State on Nov. 16. (Hannah Miner)

BYU then moved down the field with a series of passes, including a 15-yard pass to Simon and a 25-yard pass to Aleva Hifo. The drive ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Finau that put the score at 35-3 with 9:18 left in the third quarter of the game.

Skylar Southam kicked off and on the very next play, Struck was picked off once again, this time by Dayan Ghanwoloku at the Idaho State 26. Ghanwoloku returned the ball 8 yards, and then a 21-yard rush by Wilson put the Cougars in position to score. Defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga ran the ball three yards for the touchdown and the score sat at 42-3 with 8:07 left in the third quarter.

The Bengals’ next drive ended with their first touchdown of the game when Rango pushed threw a pileup of BYU defensive lineman and came out on the other side with no one between him and the endzone. The 54-yard touchdown run left the score at 42-10 with 7:37 left in the third quarter.

The ball changed hands a couple more times but no more points were scored before the end of the quarter. Going into the final frame of the game, the Bengals held the ball on the BYU 35. Idaho State turned over the ball on a fourth-and-four and BYU began their march down the field. The drive featured a 17-yard pass to Keanu Hill but ended with an interception by Idaho State’s Kody Graves.

The Bengals punted a few plays later, and the Cougars sent on Joe Critchlow to play as quarterback. The drive lasted 11:43 and ended with the Cougars running out the clock. The game ended after the 17-play drive that featured a 12-yard rush by Finau, a 15-yard pass to Hill and an 18-yard pass to Tevita Ika.

At the end of the game Wilson, had still outperformed Struck with 187 passing yards, while Struck had 114. Critchlow threw for 58 yards during his short time playing in fourth quarter, bringing BYU’s total to 245. Rushing looked about the same with BYU totaling 204 yards spread between several players, while Idaho State had 157 yards with Rango running for 142 and Soujah Gasu running for 15. BYU had also made 27 first downs, while Idaho State finished ten.

Aguirre was credited with 16 tackles by the end of the game while Austin Lee, BYU’s top tackler, had five.

BYU football players crowded the field with #EXTENDKALANI shirts following the win. (Hannah Miner)
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