BYU football tops UMass 56-24

Zach Wilson throws a pass in game against UMass on Satruday, Nov. 23. The Cougars won the game 56-24. (BYU Photo)

BYU football took down the University of Massachusetts 56-24 on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Cougars used the game as an opportunity to give some of the team’s depth players time on the field, including freshman running back Jackson McChesney, who ran for over 200 yards. 

Prior to the game, head coach Kalani Sitake said he has a lot of respect for UMass and was excited to play them for the Minutemen’s last game of the season.

“We know it’s going to mean a lot to them. We’re going to get their best shot, so we’re going to make sure they get ours as well,” Sitake said.

The game started off with a pair of quick drives that both ended with punts. With 9:01 left in the quarter, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson passed the ball to Tyler Allgeier who ran it down the field and into the end zone for a 57-yard gain and the first touchdown of the game.

UMass’s following drive ended with a 42-yard punt by George Georgopoulos that was downed at the BYU 12-yard line. The Cougars had 88 yards to go for a touchdown and they slowly made their way down the field with help from an 18-yard pass to Talon Shumway and a 20-yard pass to Matt Bushman. The first quarter ended with BYU sitting on the UMass 4-yard line. 

A couple of plays later, Lopini Katoa ran the ball 3 yards in for BYU’s second touchdown, which put the score at 14-0 with 14:15 left in the first half. 

Isaiah Rodgers caught and returned Skylar Southam’s 61-yard kickoff and ran it all the way down the field and into the end zone, but a penalty was called against the Minutemen for holding on the play, so the touchdown was voided and the Minutemen were brought back to their own 13-yard line.

The drive ended with a 35-yard punt from Georgopoulos that put the Cougars on the UMass 48-yard line. With a single 48-yard pass to Shumway, BYU scored another touchdown. The Cougars led 21-0 with 12:27 left in the half. 

After another short UMass drive ended with a 30-yard punt by Georgopoulos, BYU’s offense took the field once again. The following drive included a 16-yard run by Wilson, a 19-yard run by Allgeier and ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Katoa. The score was now 28-0 with 9:08 left in the first half. 

BYU followed another UMass punt with a touchdown. That scoring drive lasted only two plays — a 15-yard pass to Micah Simon and a 44-yard run by McChesney. The Minutemen’s next drive ended with an interception by JJ Nwigwe which led to another touchdown for the Cougars. The scoring play was an 18-yard pass to Gunner Romney which brought the score to 42-0 with 5:43 left in the half.

During the next drive of the game, UMass’s Isaiah Rodgers took a hard hit to the head and laid on the field for about fifteen minutes before he was taken off on a stretcher. Rodgers’s mother followed him off the field to an ambulance that took him to the hospital. The Cougars were seen sharing a prayer while waiting. The news as Rodgers left the field was that he was breathing and moving.

When play continued, the Minutemen punted the ball and the Cougars took it down the field for one more touchdown before the end of the half. 

Kyle Horn caught Southman’s 48-yard kickoff and returned it 14-yards then fumbled the ball. BYU’s Dayan Ghanwoloku recovered the ball at the UMass 31. This gave the Cougars the opportunity to score again before the half ended. Jake Oldroyd came on for a field goal attempt with three seconds left on the clock, but the ball flew right and bounced off the upright. The half ended with the Cougars leading 49-0. 

BYU had 20 first downs in the first half compared to the Minutemen’s two. Wilson had thrown for 293 yards while the two UMass quarterbacks, Andrew Brito and Randall West, had thrown a total of three yards. 

McChesney led BYU’s rushing attack with 56 yards on the ground in the first half, while UMass’s top runner was Bilal Ally with 36 yards. 

Starting the second half, Oldroyd’s 50-yard kickoff was returned 28 yards and the Minutemen started at the UMass 43-yard line. The drive ended with a 37-yard punt by Georgopoulos, but it was brought back to life as the punt was muffed by Romney as the ball went off his helmet. UMass recovered it at the BYU 12-yard line. This put the Minutemen in position to score their first touchdown of the game with a 12-yard pass to Simon. With 13:16 left in the third quarter, the score was 49-7.

Sophomore Joe Critchlow came on to play as quarterback for BYU’s next drive which ended with a 27-yard punt by Danny Jones. The Minutemen put themselves in the red zone with a 32-yard pass to Kyle Horn and ended the drive with a field goal by Cooper Garcia, putting the score at 49-10 with 7:13 left in the quarter.

Two more drives ended in punts before McChesney broke free a 62-yard rushing play. He then ran the ball 12-yards into the end zone, increasing BYU’s lead to 56-10 with 11 seconds left in the third quarter of the game. 

UMass took the ball little by little into BYU territory to start the final frame. A 32-yard pass from West to Sadiq Palmer put the Minutemen in position to score. They reached the BYU 3-yard line, but on the following fourth-and-goal play, Roberson ran the ball for two yards and the drive was stopped just short of a touchdown. 

BYU was unable to get a first down and Oldroyd punted the ball 41 yards to the 50-yard line. UMass moved down the field with a series of small plays that were topped off with a touchdown. The score was 56-17 with 8:27 left in the game. 

After BYU punted again, UMass moved their way into the Cougars’ territory. A short drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Ally, putting the score at 56-24 with 4:56 left in the game.

BYU took the ball back and put themselves back on their feet with a 51-yard rush by McChesney.

The Cougars didn’t put any more points on the board, and the game ended with a score of 56-24. 

By the end of the game, BYU had 26 first downs, while UMass had 16. The Minutemen’s passing yards had gone up considerably, with West having thrown for a total of 131 and BYU’s Critchlow threw for 15 yards during the second half of the game. UMass’s rushing game was outshone by BYU’s. UMass’s top runner, Ally, had run for 127 yards compared to McChesney’s 228.

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