On this date, 14 years ago, the Brigham Young Cougars survived a shootout with San Jose State. They couldn’t have done it, however, without running back Ronney Jenkins tying the school record for most touchdowns scored in a single game.
BYU controlled the game, but could never put away the pesky Spartans. BYU won the total offense battle by more than 200 yards, 577 to 370, including limiting San Jose State to just 51 rushing yards. San Jose State did all their scoring in the second and fourth quarters. What looked like a game that BYU controlled going into the fourth quarter turned into a barn burner.
The Cougars needed every one of Jenkins’ 250 rushing and 25 receiving yards and all five of his touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving). The 250 rushing yards still stands as the second highest single game total in BYU history (Eldon Fortie had 272 in 1962 versus George Washington). Jenkins’ 275 all-purpose yards were the fourth most in BYU history, at the time, and is currently the seventh most. The five touchdowns and 30 points scored by Jenkins tied the school records for most touchdowns in a game and most points scored in a game.
As prolific as Jenkins and the BYU offense was, it was the BYU defense that won the game with two fourth quarter stands. The 370 yards allowed by the Cougar D was a season high, but when it mattered most, they came through. For the day, BYU limited San Jose State to just 2 first down conversions on 12 third downs.
BYU started slow on offense with two drives stalling in the first quarter. Owen Pochman was able to get three points for BYU on each drive by kicking 31 and 44 yard field goals. After one quarter, BYU led 6-0.
San Jose State came alive in the second quarter. In a 1:58 span, the Spartans scored two touchdowns to take a 14-12 lead with 8:28 to play before halftime. Sandwiched between San Jose State’s touchdowns, Jenkins scored his first touchdown of the day on a 14-yard run.
For the next eight minutes, the BYU defense held San Jose State in check. On the other hand, San Jose State had no answer for the BYU offense. The Cougars scored two more touchdowns, and it appeared that BYU was going to have a 25-14 lead at halftime. Following BYU’s second score, San Jose State got good field position on the kickoff, and was able to cover 56 yards in four plays and just 28 seconds to close the gap to 25-22 with seven seconds left in the quarter.
BYU rode Jenkins in the third quarter trying to keep the explosive Spartan offense off the field. After receiving the second half kickoff, BYU took 7:03 off the clock on a 15-play drive that was capped with a 1-yard Jenkins touchdown run. Jenkins scored on another 1-yard run after the BYU defense stopped San Jose State in just 1:04.
BYU had pushed the lead to 39-22 with Jenkins’ two touchdown runs, but two BYU turnovers offset those two scores. San Jose State had back-to-back touchdown scoring drives of 16 and 15 yards and time of possession of just 1:30 and 0:45, respectively. With 13:29 to play in the game, a 17-point lead was back down to three.
BYU went back to pounding the ball with Jenkins to run 3:49 off the clock and score on a 9-yard Jenkins run to bump the lead to 46-36. However, San Jose State came right back and answered with its fourth touchdown pass of the day to make it a three-point game again.
With 7:07 to play, the game became really interesting when BYU fumbled the kickoff and San Jose State recovered at the BYU 19-yard line. The Spartans had played almost mistake free on offense all game, but made four crucial mistakes in the final seven minutes. A holding penalty negated a 19-yard touchdown run on first down. Brian Gray intercepted a San Jose State pass two plays later.
BYU was unable to score and had to punt the ball back to San Jose State. The Spartans drove into scoring territory one last time. Twice San Jose State appeared to continue the drive with first down runs, but delay of game penalties negated both first downs. Forced to try and tie the game, San Jose State attempted a 47-yard field goal with 1:22 to play that was short.
The 46-43 win moved LaVell Edwards past Ohio State legend Woody Hayes on the all-time wins list with win number 239.
BYU had 332 total rushing yards on 56 attempts. Jenkins’ longest run was 48 yards, and he averaged 8.1 yards per carry (31 carries). Wide receiver Ben Horton had a 65-yard catch, and 30.7 yard per catch average on his three receptions. Seven other Cougars caught passes. None had less than 21 yards or more than 29 yards receiving.
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