The Cougars pulled off big plays, but even bigger mistakes en route to a 55–30 loss to Boise State on the road Friday night.
The Cougars were desperate for a win, and so were the fans, but the Cougars dropped a fourth straight game for the first time since 2010.
The Broncos held an 84–3 home winning record in regular season matchup’s since 1999 entering Friday. The Broncos used nine 20-plus yard plays as they scorched the Cougars through the air off stellar play from quarterback Grant Hedrick, who threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns to one interception.
Christian Stewart played OK, but the bigger problem was the BYU defense, which surrendered over 640 yards on offense–400 in the first half. It is clearly a problem caused by a plethora of injuries, but the Cougars need to rethink defensive schemes if they are to stay relevant this season.
BYU fans immediately showed signs of frustration on the Broncos’ opening two drives, which resulted in a field goal to open the scoring and a 12-yard touchdown-run from Hedrick that gave the Broncos a 10–0 advantage early.
— James English (@james_english16) October 25, 2014
Stewart, coming off his best performance of his BYU career against Nevada, didn’t look sharp in the early going. The Broncos front seven didn’t allow the Cougars to get a running game going in the first, and allowed just 13 yards of total offense in the first frame.
The social media situation turned from frustration to amusingly aggressive in a matter of minutes. Those of you who religiously follow BYU football will understand.
— J. Sheff (@sheffeazy) October 25, 2014
And then the BYU punt return team managed to muff the Broncos first punt and turn it over to the Broncos inside the BYU 15. It wasn’t looking good for the Cougars, and it wasn’t looking up for the kids who’s baby sitter was a BYU fan.
Tonight is not a good night to be in charge of people other than myself. Grumpy nanny for the rest of the night. Sorry kids. #BYUvsBoise
— Rachel Salisbury (@rachel_salz) October 25, 2014
The good field possession ended in a Broncos field goal that extended their lead to 13–0 to start the first quarter. Another three-and-out for the Cougars led to 76-yard punt from Scott Arellano, the longest in college football this year. Unfortunately, it’s not the stat the Cougars get up and crazy about.
The ensuing Broncos drive began to put a nail in the coffin for the Cougars, as the Broncos marched down the field on two plays 36 seconds off a 16-yard rush from Jay Ajayi and a 78-yard touchdown pass from Hedrick to Thomas Sperbeck, taking the Broncos lead to 20–0.
But the Cougars found some rhythm following an embarrassing defensive stand, marching down the field and accumulating their first 4 first downs, finishing the drive off in the end zone after a Jamaal Williams 17-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars on the board. Williams sat out most of the UCF game and all of the Nevada game due to an ankle injury sustained against UCF. It was good to have him back.
— Matt Michael Howard (@matty_howard) October 25, 2014
But it was only 1:07 minutes of hope, as the Cougars imploded defensively on the Broncos ensuing possession, giving up a 47-yard pass to Shane Williams-Rhodes who took it to the house and gave Boise State a 27–7 lead.
But then this happened…
Even quicker response for BYU. 81 yards in 1 play. Boise 27 BYU 14 #BYUvsBOISE
— James A. Jackson (@JamesJacksonKSU) October 25, 2014
It was an 81-yard pass play from Stewart to Colby Pearson for a one–play drive. The Cougars weren’t ready to concede a blowout just yet.
Huge plays were a staple for both sides, especially the Broncos, who benefited from a huge 45-yard prayer from Hedrick to Chaz Anderson who made a circus catch inside the four-yard line. Ajayi rushed the ball in for the score to finish another quick drive and build the Broncos lead to 34–14 nearing halftime.
Perhaps the BYU Honor Code should be adjusted to provide incentive for playing defense, as this fan pointed out.
BYU getting scored on so much it's an Honor Code violation. #BYUvsBoise
— Aaron Peck (@AaronPeck) October 25, 2014
The Broncos took a 41–16 lead into the half, having accumulated over 429 yards on offense, compared to BYU’s 194.
In chipping away at the huge deficit, the Cougars got back into the game in hurry, scoring on an interception at the Broncos 20-yard line by Fred Warner, who strolled into the end zone for a BYU defensive-score, and get the Cougars within 18.
But just as BYU gained a little momentum, the Broncos stole it right back with huge plays and another quick drive. They drove down the field on four plays and 36 yards, which ended in an eight-yard pass from hedrick to Jake Roh to take the score to 48–23, Broncos. The score remained the same entering the fourth.
One fan just wanted the pain to end.
Please Boise State. Make it stop. #BYUvsBoise
— Ryan Bennion (@RyBen3) October 25, 2014
Of course, it didn’t, as the Broncos zipped down the field again for another score off an Ajayi 2-yard rush to make it 55–23 with 8:21 to play. It’s the first time the Broncos have put up 50-plus points this season.
In what was essentially garbage time, Christian Stewart led the Cougars on another scoring drive with 5:10 remaining after he rushed into the end zone for a two-yard score and his first rushing touchdown of the season.
The Cougars are now 0–3 against the Mountain West Conference this year, and as the battle to get into a conference heats up, the last four performances will remain a dark spot on their push to be “power 5”.
The Cougars will battle to not lose five in a row when they travel to Middle Tennessee next week.