|Senior running back Squally Canada led a balanced attack against Arizona (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News).|
The BYU Cougars began the 2018 football season the right way--with a win. They did it with a true team approach.
The offense was balanced (209 yards passing, 183 rushing). Ten different players caught passes. None had more than three receptions. BYU used two backs to carry the ball out of the backfield, while four other players picked up yardage on the ground on fly sweeps.
The Cougar defense was led by two players with just seven tackles each. In total, six defenders had four tackles or more. This unit played disciplined football to keep Arizona's Heisman candidate, dual-threat quarterback under 200 yards passing, and just 14 yards rushing.
Even special teams did its part. Punting was solid, no big returns were allowed, a field goal was tipped, and Michael Shelton had a 37-yard punt return.
It all led to a 28-23 win over an Arizona Wildcats club that was favored by more than 10 points.
BYU got off to a slow start. Arizona received the opening kickoff, and had success moving the ball on its first two possessions. Two big plays by Corbin Kaufusi kept the Wildcats from cashing in. He tipped the ball on a field goal attempt at the end of the first drive, and he made a 12-yard sack to force a punt on the second.
|Corbin Kaufusi had the only sack for both teams (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News).|
The Cougars didn't do much with their first possession. After a 14-yard pass from Tanner Mangum to running back Squally Canada on the first play of the drive, BYU could not pick up another first down. Canada got two first downs for BYU on its next possession--one through the air, one on the ground--but the Cougars were forced to punt afterwards.
As the first quarter ended and the second began, BYU turned things around long enough to take the first lead of the game. The Cougar defense forced a three-and-out on Arizona's next possession. The BYU offense then took the ball down the field in nine plays and finished the 59-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Canada to go up 7-0.
The touchdown was set up by a 30-yard pass from Mangum to Aleva Hifo to convert a 3rd and 10. Two plays earlier, Mangum overthrew Hifo, who was open, in the end zone, but the two were able to connect on a shallow crossing route that he turned into the big gain.
Arizona immediately answered with a field goal to cut the lead to 7-3. The Wildcat defense then forced BYU to punt just three plays later. That allowed Arizona to take the lead with less than a minute before halftime.
Aided by three Cougar penalties for 35 yards, including a pass interference on third down, Arizona moved 77 yards in nine plays to go up 10-7 with 45 seconds left in the second quarter.
Despite having two timeouts, and good field position after the Arizona kickoff went out of bounds, BYU didn't make much effort to score before going to the locker room. The Cougars didn't even use their final timeout to try a hail Mary from the Arizona 47-yard line.
In the locker room, the Cougar coaches were able to make all the right adjustments. The Cougars came out and played a perfect third quarter.
BYU got the ball to start the second half and retook the lead on a 24-yard pass from Mangum to tight end Matt Bushman. That came one play after wide receiver Dylan Collie made a spectacular 22-yard catch on 3rd and 12. Collie caught the ball falling to the turf after an Arizona defensive back initially broke up the pass.
It was everything Cougar fans have come to expect from the Collie name.
The Cougar defense forced a three-and-out, and the BYU offense picked up the tempo feeling they had the Wildcats reeling. Two freshmen did most of the damage for the Cougars. After running back Lopini Katoa picked up 24 yards on four straight run plays, tight end Dallin Holker's first career reception was a 14-yard catch to the one-yard line. Canada then punched it in the end zone to extend the lead to 21-10.
The Cougar defense got another three-and-out. Nose guard Khyiris Tonga made two outstanding plays on this series. On first down, he drove the Arizona center back nearly into the quarterback, which forced a bad throw. On third down, he got his hands on the pass and nearly intercepted it.
Arizona was forced to punt the ball back to BYU. Shelton fielded the punt near the sideline, and found his way through the oncoming Wildcats for a 37-yard return.
BYU took over with great field position. After a five-yard penalty for defensive encroachment, Mangum threw a perfect out route to Micah Simon on the sideline in tight coverage for a 20-yard gain.
In one play, BYU was at the Arizona 11-yard line. Everything was going BYU's way.
Facing 4th and 1 at the two-yard line, and having controlled the line of scrimmage most of the night, BYU showed some killer instinct. Rather than kick the field goal and make it a full two touchdown lead, Canada ran for his third touchdown of the night to put BYU up by three scores, 28-10.
Four plays later the third quarter was over. The Cougars had taken control of the game during that 15 minute frame, but victory wasn't in the bag, yet.
The Arizona offense fired back with a quick touchdown drive of its own to close the gap to 28-17.
The Cougar offensive line was still domimating in the trenches though. Highligted by a Collie 13-yard run and a Bayden El Bakri 13-yard reception, BYU chewed up 4:24 of the fourth quarter. However, incomplete passes on third and fourth downs at the Arizona 37-yard line ended the drive without points for the Cougars.
The BYU defense was back to its third quarter form following the punt, and forced a punt of its own without allowing Arizona to pick up a first down.
A holding penalty, one of the few mistakes made by the offensive line all game, killed BYU's next drive. That gave Arizona the ball back with 4:48 to play.
Still trailing by 11, Arizona needed to score quickly. The Wildcats had back-to-back 15 yard gains to start the drive. Then the Cougar defense stiffened forcing Arizona into a 4th and 10. Arizona was able to convert with a pass to the one-yard line. The BYU defender delivered a big hit as the receiver was coming down with the ball, but he was able to hold on. Arizona punched the ball into the end zone the next play. The two-point conversion, however, was not successful.
Trailing 28-23 with 3:20 to play and two timeouts, Arizona thought they had enough time that an onside kick was not necessary. When it mattered most, BYU's offensive line continued to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. That allowed the Cougars to run out the clock. Not even an illegal formation penalty was enough to kill the drive. BYU still picked up a first down on three straight run plays after 1st and 15.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Dylan Collie 22-yard reception on 3rd and 12 in the third quarter.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Squally Canada, 24 carries, 98 yards, 3 TD, 2 receptions, 29 yards.
NEXT: Cal, September 8, 8:15 PM
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