Pepe Tanuvasa returns an interception against Idaho State. (Dallin Wilks)

BYU football steamrolls Idaho State 59-14 on Senior Day

An explosive first half set the tone for No. 17 BYU in Saturday’s win against FCS opponent Idaho State, where the Cougars jumped out to an early 35-0 advantage and never looked back en route to a 59-14 finish in the home finale.

“(Idaho State) battled,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We knew that if we took care of business we should be OK. I thought our guys had the right mindset.”

Usual contributors Tyler Allgeier, Neil Pau’u and Puka Nacua all found the end zone in the first half, with quarterback Jaren Hall tossing four touchdowns for 298 yards and rushing for another score in just 30 minutes of play.Nacua added to his highlight reel with 120 receiving yards averaging 20 yards per catch, and Allgeier’s first-quarter touchdown marked his NCAA-leading 16th end zone trip of the season.

The majority of BYU’s starters were pulled from the contest after halftime in favor of live reps for the rest of the depth chart, allowing for increased opportunities for tight ends Dallin Holker and Carter Wheat, receivers Chris Jackson and Talmage Gunther along with running backs Jackson McChesney and Hinckley Ropati. Three different quarterbacks threw passes, eight Cougars logged carries and nine caught passes in a truly collective effort.

“I thought it was really good for a bunch of young guys to get meaningful reps,” Sitake said. “I liked the stop at the end. I thought that was really good for our young guys.”

Uriah Leiataua hugs Keanu Hill in celebration after a touchdown. Hill had a breakout game against Idaho State. (Dallin Wilks)

Saturday’s most notable breakout performer was receiver Keanu Hill, who grabbed a career-high four passes for 92 yards with a touchdown and even blocked a punt in the fourth quarter while landing on the loose ball in the end zone for a recovery touchdown. It was the first blocked punt touchdown since 2004 for the Cougars and added some extra “style points” for the cherry on top of BYU’s eighth win this season.

“We knew he was something special,” Sitake said on Hill. “For him it was just to get the opportunity to get on the field and play.”

In the end, Allgeier, Pau’u, Nacua, Hall, Hill, Katoa and Holker all recorded touchdowns, with Justen Smith kicking a late field goal for good measure. Baylor Romney replaced Hall at quarterback for the second half in his first appearance since Oct. 1 at Utah State, followed by a few late reps from Jacob Conover to close out the contest.

On defense, linebackers Jackson Kaufusi and Matthew Criddle led the Cougars with six and five tackles each, with Criddle snagging an interception as well in his first career start. Pepe Tanuvasa grabbed an interception of his own while logging a sack, with Atunaisa Mahe and Alden Tofa teaming up for another sack.

Three seniors and 11 other players who may leave after this season were honored on Senior Day at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The three seniors were Uriah Leiataua, Jared Kapisi and Samson Nacua. Tyler Allgeier, Neil Pau’u and Gunner Romney were among those who have the option to return for another season but were still honored as part of the senior group.

“Some guys feel like their purpose as a BYU football player has been fulfilled,” Criddle said of his recognition on Senior Day. “I feel like my time has come to an end.”

Kalani Sitake and Samson Nacua embrace on Senior Day. Nacua is one of three seniors on the BYU roster. (Dallin Wilks)

Now sitting at 8-2 on the campaign, the Cougars will enjoy a well-deserved bye week before heading east to play Georgia Southern on Nov. 20.

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