Ghanwoloku breaks 28-year old BYU record; moves up the all-time charts

Dayan Ghanwoloku returns an interception against Mississippi State (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)

For the first time this season, the BYU defense had another player besides Fred Warner rise to the occasion and repeatedly made big plays. Dayan Ghanwoloku did his best to keep BYU in the game at Mississippi State this weekend. In the process, he raced into the BYU record books.

In the second quarter, Ghanwoloku returned an interceptions 67 yards. He intercepted another pass late in the third quarter and returned it 38 yards. That gave him a total of 105 return yards for the game, and a spot in the BYU record books.

Ghanwoloku's total was eight yards more than what Brian Mitchell had in the 1989 season opener at New Mexico. Mitchell's 97 yards came all on one return. It was also a touchdown.

It appeared that Ghanwoloku had a clear path to the end zone on the first interception. With a blocker in front of him and one man to beat down the sideline, he veered back to the middle of the field and was tackled by the Mississippi State quarterback.

"I was a little tired on that. I saw the open field and I thought, 'I’m going to take it to the house,'" Ghanwoloku told reporters after the game. "Unfortunately, it didn’t go as I planned. I tried to follow my blocks." He also added, "It’s always bad getting tackled by the quarterback."

Besides setting a new school record, the sophomore from Layton, Utah achieved a rare feat. Something not even current Cleveland Browns safety Kai Nacua did. Ghanwoloku is just the third player in BYU history to have two seasons going over the century mark in interception return yards. Last year, playing under the surname of Lake, he had 113 interception return yards on three interceptions (49 yards vs. Toledo, 50 yards vs. Boise State, 14 yards vs. Wyoming). Dan Hansen (1970, 1971) and Mike Russell (1973, 1974) are the other two players.

With 218 career interceptions return yards, Ghanwoloku ranks fifth all-time at BYU. He trails number four, Dave Atkinson, by just four yards.
  1. 421--Dan Hansen, 1970-72
  2. 249--Mike Russell, 1973-74
  3. 246--Kai Nacua, 2013-16
  4. 222--Dave Atkinson, 1971-73
  5. 218--Dayan Lake Ghanwoloku
It isn't crazy to think Ghanwoloku could jump all the way to number two on the list. He only needs 32 more yards. If he can get those yards this season, or at least 27 more, he would have bragging rights in the locker room. As it stands, Cornerbacks Coach Jernaro Gilford has a higher one season total with 131 yards when he player for BYU in 2001.

The record for most interception return yards in a single season is 239 by Hansen in 1971.

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