BYU breaks its fourth quarter scoring slump

Brigham Young Cougars running back Jamaal Williams took a shovel pass from Riley Nelson, weaved his way through the Georgia Tech defense, and ran down the sideline to score his fourth touchdown of the day. That score tied Williams with Harvey Unga for the most touchdowns in a game by a freshman, but more importantly, it gave BYU its first fourth quarter touchdown in four games.

Against Hawaii on September 28, Paul Lasike scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 6:58 to play in the fourth quarter. That touchdown capped a 27-point second half for BYU. In the three games that followed, BYU scored just 3 solitary points in the fourth quarter.

This lack of scoring in the fourth quarter, had a lot to do with BYU losing two of those three games (Oregon State and Notre Dame).

The next game after Hawaii was Utah State. BYU won the game 6-3, but that required the Cougar defense to pitch a shutout in the second half. Taysom Hill’s touchdown pass to JD Falslev with three seconds left in the first half was BYU’s only score of the game.

The following week against Oregon State, BYU kicked a 35-yard field goal with 8:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. That trimmed BYU’s deficit to 28-24. A touchdown is what BYU really needed to keep pace with Oregon State as time was winding down. After the Cougars failed to score a touchdown on that drive, the game got away from BYU.

The fourth quarter scoring slump became a serious issue when BYU went to Notre Dame. BYU carried a 14-10 lead into the fourth quarter. One touchdown anytime during the quarter would have put the game away. BYU didn’t score a single point, and the Cougars lost an opportunity to upset the nation’s no. 5 ranked team.

Georgia Tech kicked a field goal with 21 seconds left in the third quarter to pull within 14 points of BYU going into the final period. Although BYU had controlled the game, all Georgia Tech needed was one big play in the fourth quarter to seize the momentum and give them a great chance at tying the game by the end of regulation. In other words, BYU needed a touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

BYU got that score ten seconds into the quarter. Falslev returned the Yellow Jackets kickoff 43 yards to the Georgia Tech 43-yard line. Williams rushed for four yards on first down. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, he scored on the 39-yard touchdown catch.

On their next drive, the Cougars added a field goal to give them 10 points in the fourth quarter. It was the first time since game three at Utah that BYU had scored double digits in the fourth quarter.

Although fourth quarter scoring might not matter in the next three games of the season, it could make a difference in the bowl game. Either way, it would be good for the BYU coaches to develop a team culture of scoring in the fourth quarter so a slump like this won’t hurt the team in 2013.

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