Thinking about the possibility of the BYU Cougars having another true freshman quarterback in 2018 got me thinking of some of the previous BYU quarterbacks who have started as a true freshman. Fifteen years ago, John Beck was a true freshman. He got his first win as a starter against the San Diego State Aztecs.
BYU entered game six of the 2003 season with a 2-3 record. John Beck was making his third career start, but getting his first win had been elusive. When the Aztecs were the first to get on the board by returning a Beck fumble 44-yards, it didn't feel like this would be the night. However, Beck was able to atone for that mistake and tie the game with a four-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter. Not only was that Beck's first career touchdown run, it was the first rushing touchdown allowed by San Diego State all season.
San Diego State used another big play, a 70-yard pass, to regain the lead, 14-7, before the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, BYU took control of the game. The Cougars scored 24 more points before halftime.
The scoring barrage began with Beck throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to fullback Fahu Tahi. That was followed by a school record 95-yard touchdown run by Reynaldo Brathwaite. BYU was now in front 21-14.
The running threat of Brathwaite helped Beck lead the Cougars to victory. Brathwaite would finish the game with 144 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Timely plays by the BYU defense was also a big key to Beck getting his first win as a starting quarterback. Although San Diego State amassed 352 yards passing on just 18 completions, plays like Colby Bockwoldt's 13-yard fumble return for a touchdown helped keep BYU ahead on the scoreboard.
The defensive touchdown put BYU up by 10, but the Aztecs were able to add a field goal on the final play of the half to make the difference just a touchdown, 31-24.
BYU put the game out of reach in the second half with a second Beck-to-Tahi touchdown from eight yards out and a second Matt Payne field goal. That made the Cougar lead 41-24.
Two big plays helped San Diego State make a game of it (55-yard touchdown pass and a second fumble return for a touchdown) in the fourth quarter, 41-36. The Aztecs tried two-point conversions after each touchdown and failed both times.
BYU added three more points on Payne's third field goal to make the final score 44-36.
Beck finished the game completing 17 of 26 passes for 180 yards, and two touchdowns with one interception. He added 48 yards rushing on 16 carries, and scored one rushing touchdown.
The Cougar defense was susceptible to the big play, but held San Diego State to just 40 yards rushing and allowed just two third down conversions on 15 tries.
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