All time low: BYU football continues free fall in 41-14 loss to Liberty

LYNCHBURG, Va. — What else can you say other than ‘disaster?’

BYU’s once-promising 2022 campaign — along with the Kalani Sitake era as a whole — both hit rock bottom Saturday in a 41-14 loss at Liberty, marking three straight losses for the Cougars in the most embarrassing possible fashion.

“This wasn’t our brand of football,” defensive end Tyler Batty said.

After a two touchdown first quarter, BYU’s offense fell off the face of the earth, which its defense seemingly already did weeks ago. The Cougars managed just 142 total yards over the final three frames as the Flames rolled for 28 first downs and 38 unanswered points.

No, that wasn’t a typo. BYU gave up 38 unanswered points to a team that scored just 22 a week ago against an FCS opponent.

Prior to Saturday, Liberty had yet to achieve a scoring drive of 10 or more plays this season. Against the Cougars, the Flames had four. They even added an immediate 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for good measure.

While Talan Alfrey grabbed an early interception and Caden Haws recovered a fumble, the Cougar defense was thrashed for 535 yards, 7.6 yards per play and five total touchdowns. It may be safe to say the defensive “changes” BYU implemented following last week’s loss to Arkansas have completely whiffed.

“We simplified the game plan, but I’m not sure we executed well enough,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We need more disruption.”

Facing near constant pressure, quarterback Jaren Hall finished a brutal 16-34 in passing with 187 yards and two touchdowns against a staunch Liberty defense. Puka Nacua caught seven passes for 114 yards and score, while Isaac Rex added 38 yards and another touchdown.

“We didn’t score enough points,” Hall said. “I didn’t do my job.”

Is this the lowest point of Sitake’s tenure in Provo? BYU was an impressive 21-4 over 2020-21, but in 2022 it’s taken just eight weeks to match the loss total of the past two years.

Oh, and a Big 12 schedule is on its way.

“We’ve played really good ball in the past, and we’ve gotta get back there,” Sitake said.

Once ranked No. 12 in the nation, the Cougars fall to a devastating 4-4 and face an uphill battle to salvage the remainder of the season and return to relevance, let alone bowl eligibility. BYU heads back west to face East Carolina Friday in Provo.

“We’ve gotta fight through this.. this is definitely some adversity,” Sitake said. “I look forward to battling through this.”

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