Brigham Young Cougars offensive coordinator Robert Anae has returned to Provo with the mantra "go fast and go hard" for the offense. If there was any time during Anae's previous tenure at BYU (2005-10) that the entire team embodied this mantra, it was a three game stretch in 2008.
To be more precise, it was a span of 11 quarters five years ago that offense, defense, and special teams played exceptional. It all started with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Max Hall to Dennis Pitta in the first quarter of game three versus UCLA. An avalanche ensued in the second quarter when BYU scored 28 points in less than five minutes.
With 14:30 to play in the second quarter, Austin Collie caught a 2-yard touchdown from Hall. The Cougar defense recovered a fumble on each of the next two Bruins possessions, which resulted in two more touchdowns for BYU--a 37-yard Hall to Collie TD pass and a 12-yard Hall to Michael Reed TD pass, respectively. The BYU special teams got into the act with a fumble recovery of its own on the ensuing kickoff. It, too, was quickly turned into points in the form of a Hall to Harvey Unga 15-yard toss with 9:42 to play before halftime.
BYU wasn't done. The special teams came up big again with a blocked field goal on UCLA's next possession. That gave Hall enough time to engineer one more scoring drive before halftime that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown pass to Pitta with 14 seconds left.
In the second half, BYU added 17 more points (Unga 6-yard TD catch, Mitch Payne 24-yard field goal, and Wayne Latu 13-yard run), while the defense held UCLA scoreless.
The game ended in a 59-0 win for BYU. As impressive as that route was, it was only the beginning. The next week, BYU recorded another lopsided shutout, 44-0 against Wyoming.
BYU toyed around with the Cowboys for the first quarter scoring just one touchdown--a 64-yard fumble return by Scott Johnson--but Hall and co. exploded for 34 points over the next two quarters. Unga scored twice with a one-yard run in the second quarter, and an 11-yard reception in the third. Collie had two touchdown grabs in the second quarter of 62 and 7 yards. Linebacker David Nixon added the final touchdown on a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown. The only fourth quarter points were Justin Sorensen's 31-yard field goal. They were the first points of his career.
The back-to-back shutouts were the first by BYU since 1985, incidentally by identical scores. However, the 1985 Cougars had lost the game before the two shutouts, and in the game after surrendered the first 14 points. The 2008 Cougars kept its scoreless streak going into game three, while at the same time piling up a bunch of points early.
With a 103-0 run going, BYU went up to Logan, Utah to play the Utah State Aggies. BYU exploded for 24 points in the first quarter. Collie raced 76-yards for a touchdown on a simple curl pattern for the first points of the game. The Cougar defense then took over.
Cornerback Brandon Bradley returned a fumble 38-yards for a touchdown. On the next two possessions, BYU forced another fumble and intercepted a pass. The BYU offense turned these two turnovers into 10 more points (Payne 45-yard field goal, Unga 11-yard run).
The total dominance continued for two more quarters. Utah State was scoreless going into the fourth quarter, and BYU scored 10 more points in the third quarter on another Payne field goal (21-yards) and another touchdown reception by Collie from 12 yards out. BYU held a commanding 34-0 lead.
Over the last 11 quarters of play, BYU had outscored opponents 137-0. It was unprecedented in BYU football history. During this stretch, BYU scored 18 touchdowns--12 passes, 3 rushes, 3 defensive (2 fumble returns, 1 interception return). Eight different players scored touchdowns, and 10 players total scored points.
It is always a thrill to see an incredible display of offense or a phenomenal defensive performance, but when both come together at the same time it is truly something special.
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