BYU Football ends magical season with 49-23 win over UCF in Boca Raton Bowl

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BYU Football ended an impressive 11-1 season with a dominant 49-23 win over Central Florida in the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Florida on Tuesday.

“I’m really proud of our players and coaches,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I saw a lot of young guys that will be back next year show up tonight.”

Zach Wilson threw for 425 yards and had five total touchdowns in the game: three in the air and two on the ground. Tyler Allgeier led the running game with 173 rushing yards and a touchdown, while tight end Isaac Rex had 96 receiving yards and two scores.

The Cougars marched 87 yards down the field on the opening drive in just five plays. Allgeier broke off a couple of big runs before Wilson kept it himself in the red zone and ran to the pylon to put BYU up 7-0 just two minutes into the game.

The next time down the field, Wilson found Rex wide open down the right side of the field for a 36-yard touchdown pass and an easy six points. BYU’s defense was able to force punts on UCF’s first two drives of the game.

Wilson got in another rushing score at the end of the first quarter to put BYU up 21-0, before UCF finally got on the board early in the second quarter with a goal-line rush. BYU responded just three minutes later as Wilson found Rex once again for a 27-yard touchdown pass, giving the Cougars a 28-7 lead with 7:11 to go in the first half.

A 30-yard diving catch from Lopini Katoa kept BYU’s offense going late in the first half, as the Cougars passed 400 yards of offense. Wilson continued to add to his highlight reel with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Neil Pau’u. The Knights put a field goal through the uprights in the final minutes of the first half to make the score 35-10 at the break.

Lopini Katoa completes a diving catch against UCF in the Boca Raton bowl game. The catch was part of a 400-yard performance by BYU’s offense in the first half. (BYU Photo)

Wilson had 330 yards and three touchdown passes, to go along with two on the ground, in the first half for BYU. Allgeier reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season in the first, becoming the first BYU player to reach the milestone since Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams in 2016.

BYU opened the second half with a 39-yard rushing touchdown from Allgeier to go up 42-10 less than two minutes into the third quarter. The Cougars continued to pile it on with a rushing touchdown for Gunner Romney to go up 49-10.

UCF was then able to go on a run of its own with 13 unanswered points at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. BYU marched down the field to the goal line once again in the final minutes, but elected to take the victory formation and kneel for the remaining time.

Wilson officially set a new record for pass accuracy percentage in a season for a BYU quarterback at 73.5%, breaking Steve Young’s 71.9% that stood for 37 years. It is also the sixth-best mark in FBS history at the moment.

The Boca Raton Bowl gave out awards following the game, with Keenan Pili winning Defensive MVP, Caleb Christensen Special Teams MVP and Wilson Offensive MVP. This is likely Wilson’s last game as a Cougar, as the junior is projected to be selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring.

“It’s an honor to coach him,” Sitake said of Wilson. “He’s got a lot of years of football left to play.”

Zach Wilson throws (top left), runs (top right) and celebrates (bottom) at a the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 22. Wilson set the BYU record for passing percentage in a season at 73.5% and threw for 425 yards against UCF in the game. (BYU Photo)
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