Flashback: BYU Knocks the Pulp out of Syracuse

Exactly 10 years ago, today, 65,612 fans filled LaVell Edwards Stadium on a Thursday night to watch the Brigham Young Cougars take on the Syracuse Orangemen. The last time these two teams met (2000), Syracuse knocked the Cougars around, including starting quarterback Bret Engemann who left with a season-ending shoulder injury. This time around, Engemann was the one who came out swinging.

On BYU’s first series, Engemann drove the Cougars 69 yards in 10 plays. The drive was punctuated with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Ord. BYU was on the board first. The Cougars would never trail in this game.

Engemann’s second TD toss just 14 seconds into the second quarter gave BYU a 14-7 lead.

Now, it was the Cougar D’s turn to make a statement. Syracuse drove all the way to the BYU 1-yard line. On 4th-and-Goal, linebacker Colby Bockwoldt caused just enough of a distraction jumping to knock away the ball it caused the Syracuse receiver to drop the pass in the end zone.

Riding the momentum of the goal line stand, the offense went the length of the field to take a commanding 21-7 lead on a one-yard Marcus Whalen run. A pass interference penalty helped get the Cougars out of the hole. A few plays later, Whalen raced 58 yards to set up his one-yard plunge. BYU covered the 99 yards in just 9 plays.

Syracuse wouldn’t go away quietly. With a touchdown just before halftime and another with 6:08 to play in the third quarter, it was a tie game again, 21-21.

The Cougar offense woke up and answered with a 3-yard touchdown run by Engemann. He finished the game with 38 yards rushing on 8 carries. In the fourth quarter, BYU started pulling away again, this time there would be no Syracuse rally.

A 50-yard touchdown pass from Engemann to David Christensen made it 33-21. That was followed by a Matt Payne 31-yard field goal. True freshman Curtis Brown, who would go on to become BYU’s all-time leading rusher, added a 1-yard touchdown run for insurance.

Final score: BYU 42, Syracuse 21.

For the game, the BYU offense held the ball for 34:55 and racked up 615 yards of total offense. Engemann had 386 yards passing, and Whalen had 140 yards rushing on just 19 carries. BYU converted 11 of 18 third downs. Ten different receivers caught passes for BYU.

Paul Walkenhorst led the BYU defense with 11 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss, and 1 sack. The two interceptions by Jeff Cowart and Jon Burbidge were one less than the Syracuse quarterback threw in all of 2001. Freshman defensive tackle Daniel Marquardt had an impressive debut making 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and recovered a fumble.

On special teams, punter Payne averaged 52 yards on three punts, including a 70-yard boot. He successfully turned a bad snap into a first down pass to Chad Barney. The play was negated by an ineligible receiver downfield penalty, which Syracuse accepted forcing BYU to punt the ball again. Although the first down didn't count, at least the rekick meant Syracuse wouldn't take over inside the BYU 20.

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