BYU vs. San Diego State: Mo Moments

The Brigham Young Cougars beat the San Diego State Aztecs 23-6 in the Poinsettia Bowl. Perhaps more than any other BYU game this season, the Poinsettia Bowl showed how the momentum from one play can completely change the dynamics of a game.

Mo Moment 1
BYU had stopped San Diego State’s game opening drive with an interception by Ezekiel Ansah on a tipped pass. The Cougar offense, however, a false start penalty and wet field conditions resulted in BYU punting after three plays. Riley Stephenson was second in the nation coming into the game averaging over 47 yards per punt. His punt went just 29 yards.

Momentum shift! San Diego State should have had the ball around the 20-yard line. The shanked punt gave the Aztecs the ball at their own 38-yard line. San Diego State took the ball and scored the first points of the game on a field goal.

Mo Moment 2
Near the end of the first quarter, San Diego State had forced another three and out by the BYU offense. BYU was in position to pin San Diego State deep in its own territory with a good punt. Stephenson shanked it again. This time for 26 yards.

Momentum boost! The Aztecs had good field position again. Taking over at their own 33-yard line, the Aztecs moved down the field and kicked a second field goal to take a 6-0 lead.

Mo Moment 3
With the BYU offense continuing to struggle, BYU made a change at quarterback and inserted Riley Nelson. With approximately six minutes to play in the first half, Nelson threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Except, San Diego State made an illegal block below the waist on BYU offensive lineman Ryker Mathews as he chased after the ball carrier.

Momentum swing! Rather than taking control of the game with a 13-0 lead, San Diego State took over at BYU’s 29-yard line. A holding penalty on second down negated a first down run. San Diego State ended up punting the ball on 4th and 17.

Mo Moment 4
Following San Diego State’s punt on 4th and 17, BYU had 2:07 to score before halftime. BYU was moving the ball, but it didn’t look like they were going fast enough to get any points. On 3rd and 10 from the San Diego State 44-yard line, James Lark connected with Devin Mahina for 38 yards.

Momentum boost! With 9 seconds left, BYU was now in field goal range. After an incomplete pass, BYU kicked a field goal on the final play of the first half to make it a 6-3 game.

Mo Moment 5
BYU received the ball to start the second half. With the momentum gained at the end of the first half, the BYU offense moved the ball better than it had all first half. BYU moved the ball into San Diego State territory, but the Aztecs got pressure and forced a bad throw that was intercepted.

Momentum swing! If BYU scores a touchdown on that drive, they are in control of the game. The interception turned this game back into a defensive struggle. BYU could do nothing the rest of the third quarter. Not even after blocking a punt and taking over at a San Diego State’s 35-yard line could BYU score points.

Mo Moment 6
San Diego State thwarted another BYU scoring threat at the start of the fourth quarter by intercepting a pass at the 3-yard line. On the first play after the interception, Kyle Van Noy flew off the edge to strip the ball from the San Diego State quarterback. He fell on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.  

Momentum swing! Van Noy’s third career touchdown gave BYU its first lead of the game 10-6.

Mo Moment 7
On San Diego State’s very next offensive play after the Van Noy touchdown, a bad exchange on the snap between the Aztec center and quarterback resulted in a fumble that bounced around and around and around. Finally, BYU defensive back Jordan Johnson fell on the ball.

Momentum boost! Johnson’s fumble recovery opened the flood gates. BYU had been unable to run the ball all night long. Following the fumble, Jamaal Williams broke loose for a 14-yard touchdown. That made it 16-6. Even though there was still over 12 minutes to play, you could sense that BYU was in complete control and there was no way the Aztecs were going to comeback from the 10-point deficit.

The rest of the game, BYU continued to gain momentum with two more turnovers.

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