BYU can't capitalize on turnovers, falls short against Cal

Dayan Ghanwoloku returning a fumble for BYU's first touchdown of the game (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News).

Although the BYU Cougars trailed by four on the scoreboard at the end of the first half, they had dominated the time of possession, and had the advantage in total offense (193 to 124). It had a similar feel to the season opener at Arizona. The BYU home opener, however, didn't follow the same second half script. The Cal Bears' defense stymied the Cougar offense and built a 21-10 lead early in the fourth quarter that BYU could not overcome.

BYU was able to move the ball early in the game. After receiving the opening kickoff, BYU moved the ball 43 yards in 11 plays before Beau Hoge, playing in a wildcat role, was stopped short on 4th and 1. The Cougar defense got the ball back forcing Cal to punt after just three plays, and BYU moved 26 yards on seven plays.

The Cougar defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage on Cal's first series, but the Bears made some early adjustments and took the ball down the field and scored a touchdown on a 25-yard pass on their second possession. 

Each team went three and out on their next possessions. In the first minute of the second quarter, BYU cornerback Chris Wilcox had a nice pass breakup on third down to force Cal's punt.

This time, BYU moved the ball far enough to get into scoring position, but it was only for a field goal. Skyler Southam's first career field goal was from 36 yards and cut the lead to 7-3.

The Cougar defense forced another punt. Highlighted by Gunner Romney's first career reception for 18 yards, BYU moved the ball from it's own 15-yard line to the Cal 35. On 4th and 5, Tanner Mangum was sacked for an 11-yard loss with just 2:10 remaining in the half.

In the final two minutes, each team had two possessions. Neither team was able to pick up a first down on any of the four series.

Khyiris Tonga had another solid game for BYU
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News).
Cal received the ball to start the second half. The Bears had completed just three passes the entire first half. They completed four on this drive. The final completion was a 52-yard bomb that extended the lead to 14-3.

That touchdown was quickly neutralized on Cal's next possession when Dayan Ghanwoloku returned a fumble 36 yards for a touchdown. That made it a four-point game again, 14-10. 

On the ensuing possession, Cal was threatening to score again. The Bears crossed over into Cougar territory and reached the 38-yard line. That's when Isaiah Kaufusi intercepted the ball and returned it 15 yards to the BYU 43-yard line.

With the back-to-back turnovers, it felt like BYU could take control of the game with a touchdown. It quickly became evident that Cal was the team in control. The Bears defense forced a second three and out. After gaining nearly 200 yards in the first half, BYU had just 11 in the third quarter. (Cal had 208.)

Cal took a 21-10 lead on the third play of the fourth quarter.

The Bears defense continued to dominate the trenches. BYU could not pick up a first down on 3rd and 2. The Cougar offense still hadn't picked up a first down in the second half, but Cal dropped the punt and Ghanwoloku recovered for the Cougars at the Cal 16-yard line.

BYU was called for offensive pass interference on 3rd down. That created a 3rd and 21 situation. Cal intercepted Mangum's pass, so the Cougars came away with zero points.

BYU wasn't throwing in the towel. The Cougar defense bent, but it didn't break. Rather than kick a field goal and extend the lead to 14, Cal elected to go for the first down on 4th and 2 from the BYU 20-yard line. The Cal quarterback had no open targets, so he threw the ball out of bounds.

With 5:55 to play, BYU still had plenty of time to win the game. After scrambling from the pocket, Mangum had a lot of green grass in front him, but he saw Akile Davis deep a step behind the Cal defender. He heaved it up, but the pass was short, and Cal intercepted it.

The Cougar defense forced a quick punt, which gave the ball back to the offense with 3:38 to play. BYU still hadn't converted a first down in the second half. That drought ended two plays into this drive. An 11-yard completion to Micah Simon got the Cougars rolling. A 24-yard completion to Moroni Laulu-Pututau later in the drive to convert a 4th and 9 kept the drive going. Dylan Collie made a nice 20-yard catch on 3rd down to move the ball to the Cal one-yard line. Mangum completed a pass to Brayden El-Bakri on the next play to cut the lead to 21-16.

BYU went for the two-point conversion to make it a three point game. Mangum scrambled and found Simon wide open in the back of the end zone.

There was just 51 seconds left, but if BYU could recover an on-sides kick, then it only needed to move into field goal range to potentially force overtime. The kick went straight to Cal. BYU used all three of its time outs to try and get the ball back, but the Cougar defense couldn't force a punt.

Final Score: Cal 21, BYU 18.

It was the first time BYU lost to Cal in the regular season. The only other time Cal has beaten BYU was in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Dayan Ghanwoloku 36-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Dayan Ghanwoloku - 7 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD.

Next: At Wisconsin
Date: September 15
Time: 1:30 Mountain Time

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