BYU Engulfs Hawaii With 28-Point Third Quarter

The Brigham Young Cougars scored 28 points in the third quarter to build a commanding 38-13 lead. It was too much for the Hawaii Warriors to overcome, and BYU left the island with a 41-20 win.

BYU quarterback Riley Nelson led the assault. Nelson was making his first appearance since leaving the first quarter of the Cougars’ game November 12 with rib and lung injuries. He returned better than ever posting career highs in yards passing (363), touchdown passes (3), pass attempts (37), and pass completions (25).

Nelson started the game 5 of 5 for 53 yards on BYU’s opening drive. His first incompletion came on a 3rd and 14 play. The ensuing field goal attempt missed. Hawaii took advantage of BYU’s missed opportunity and took a 6-0 lead with a touchdown. The extra point was missed.

On their first drive of the second quarter, BYU used a mix of passes and runs to find the end zone. On 2nd and 8, Brian Kariya raced 22 yards around the right end. Nelson completed two passes to Cody Hoffman for 10 yards each. Joshua Quezada picked up 11 yards on the ground to set up a Nelson to Ross Apo 22 yard touchdown pass on a very well thrown fade route. The extra point was good, and BYU led 7-6.

After the Cougar defense stopped Hawaii, BYU looked to extend the lead. For the second time, however, a field goal attempt was no good. For the second time, Hawaii capitalized on the Cougars’ misfortune. On the very next play, Hawaii scored on a wide receiver screen that went for 79 yards. With 3:41 to play before halftime, Hawaii led 13-7.

That was enough time for BYU to move into field goal range. This time JD Falslev was the target of choice for Nelson. Falslev caught three passes for first downs and a total of 38 yards. The third time was the charm as Justin Sorensen finally converted on a field goal. That pulled BYU to within 3 points, 13-10, with just 39 seconds to play before halftime.

That field goal had the effect of a tsunami. It gave BYU some momentum. It wasn’t much, but during halftime it gradually grew to the point that when the third quarter came, all Hawaii could do was run for cover.

BYU took the second half kickoff and scored a touchdown to retake the lead. Setting up the 12-yard touchdown pass to Apo was and unbelievable third down conversion where Nelson was going down for a sack, but at the last moment he was able to get rid of the ball. Somehow, Hoffman came down with the ball and proceeded to carry defenders for an additional five yards.

Hawaii fumbled on its next possession. BYU defensive back Joe Sampson picked up the loose ball and raced 26 yards for a touchdown. At that point, BYU could do no wrong.

The BYU defense forced another punt. Nelson completed a 40-yard pass to Marcus Mathews to set up touchdown number three of the quarter—a one-yard plunge by Kariya.

Once BYU got the ball back, another Nelson miracle ended in a touchdown. He was blindsided by the Hawaii rush, but somehow found a way to keep his balance, and then heave a bomb to Hoffman that he snagged one handed and waltzed into the end zone. That made it 38-13, and the game was unofficially over.

BYU added a fourth quarter field goal for security. Hawaii scored with less than six minutes to play to reach the final 41-20 score.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Joe Sampson 26-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Riley Nelson, 25-37, 363 yards, 3 TD passes, 176.7 pass efficiency.

Things I watched for:
  1. Riley's Return. Nelson showed no signs that he was still recovering. He is fully recovered and ready to play better than ever. It almost makes you want him to get hurt on the final play of the bowl game or during spring practice. The two times he has been injured Nelson has returned to play even better than before.
  2. BYU Pass Defense. With the exception of the 79-yard touchdown pass, the BYU pass defense was solid. Hawaii only totaled 282 passing yards and registered a 117.6 pass efficiency rating. The BYU defense successfully defended the pass without compromising defense against the run. Hawaii was limited to 17 yards rushing.
  3. The Doman vs. Rolovich Rematch. This one goes to Brandon Doman. The BYU offense out scored Hawaii. BYU converted 50% of third downs compared to 33% for Hawaii. BYU had 530 total yards compared 299.
  4. Record Tracker. Cody Hoffman did move into second place in BYU history for most kickoff return yards in a single season. He had two returns for 60 yards giving him 838 for the season—less than 30 yards away. If teams can quit kicking the ball out of bounds or making onsides kicks, then Hoffman will easily break the record.

NEXT: Airmed Forced Bowl vs. Tulsa
DATE: December 30, 2011

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