Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Flashback: Strong Start to the Season

The Brigham Young Cougars don't have a long history of starting the football season by stringing together a lot of wins. Twenty years ago, that wasn't the case. BYU came out strong, and it was crucial to the overall outcome of the season.


In 1993, BYU jumped out to a 4-0 start. That has only been done twice in the last 20 years (2001, 2008), and only three times in BYU history before that season (1984, 1981, and 1979).

The first win was a 34-31 nail biter in New Mexico. John Walsh had a good performance in his first game back after a knee injury ended his season early the year before. He passed for 384 yards on 24 of 38 passing. His 52-yard touchdown pass to Tim Nowatzke in the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner. Eric Drage (7 receptions, 124 yards) and Bryce Doman (5 receptions, 111 yards) were Walsh's favorite targets. On the final play of the game, New Mexico lined up for a game-tying field goal. The kick missed by the slimmest of margins, and the Cougars escaped 1-0.

BYU was at home for game two. Hawaii was the foe for the home opener. It was another shootout that came down to a last second field goal attempt. BYU jumped out to a 14-0 lead with two touchdown runs by Kalin Hall. Although the Cougars had a 10-point halftime lead, 31-21, they had fallen behind 38-31 in the fourth quarter. Needing to tie the game, on 4th and 10, Walsh hit Tyler Anderson for a 34-yard touchdown. Hawaii missed a go-ahead field goal attempt with 39 seconds left in the game. Once again, a tie looked inevitable, but Walsh found Drage for 58-yards to set up Joe Herrick's 40-yard game winning field goal with 18 seconds to play. A second three-point win made BYU 2-0.

On the road in Fort Collins, Colorado to play Colorado State for game three, more special teams blunders helped BYU secure a 27-22 victory. The Rams fumbled the opening kickoff, which BYU turned into a touchdown three plays later. During the game, BYU blocked two field goals and a punt. The Cougars started the game with a 17-0 lead, but turnovers in the second quarter allowed Colorado State to comeback and make this a close game. Colorado State tried to tie the game in the fourth quarter with a two-point conversion, but it failed and BYU held onto a 24-22 lead. A Herrick field goal later pushed the lead to five for the final score of 27-22.

BYU didn't need any late game heroics in game four. Back in Provo against the Air Force Academy, BYU blew open the game in the second quarter with back-to-back touchdowns by Drage. The second was a 69-yard catch and run. The scores were part of a 12 reception, 213 yard game for Drage. The Cougars' dominance of the Falcons continued as they scored just three points and had just 244 yards of total offense. The 30-3 win moved BYU to 4-0.

Thanks to this 4-0 start, BYU found itself back in the Holiday Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons, and claimed a share of the WAC Championship for the fifth consecutive year.
 
The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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