LOGAN – A flurry of turnovers doomed BYU’s chances to retain possession of the Old Wagon Wheel.
The Cougars fell 40–24 to Utah State at Maverik Stadium on Friday night after committing seven turnovers. USU scored 26 points off of those takeaways. It marked the most turnovers Utah State forced in a single game since the Aggies snared a school-record eight takeaways in a 52–26 win over Boise State in 2015.
“It’s embarrassing how many turnovers we’re having out there,” junior receiver Beau Tanner said, “But it’s on everyone and we’re going to fix it. All you can do is just go back to work.”
“It’s embarrassing how many turnovers we’re having out there. But it’s on everyone and we’re going to fix it. All you can do is just go back to work.” — Beau Tanner, BYU receiver
BYU outgained Utah State, finishing with 396 total yards while holding the Aggies to 288 yards. USU averaged just 3.9 yards per play and had 14 first downs. Ula Tolutau tallied 102 yards on 21 carries to lead BYU. The Cougars rushed for a season-high 210 yards.
Tons of plays did not go in BYU’s favor. Here are five in particular that changed the game for the Cougars:
1. Jalen Davis intercepts Beau Hoge
BYU appeared to be firmly in control after scoring two touchdowns in the first 90 seconds of the second quarter to take a 21–7 lead. Things unraveled after the Cougars coughed up three turnovers later in the quarter.
The first of these turnovers came when Beau Hoge threw a pass that bounced off the back of Chase Christiansen and Jalen Davis ripped the ball out of the air. Davis returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown and cut BYU’s lead to 21–14.
“We can’t make mistakes like that, especially against a good team at home, and expect to win,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “That wasn’t the only one. There was a lot of errors made. I’m the coach. I got to fix this. That’s what it comes down to.”
2. Beau Hoge leaves with an injury
Things went south in a hurry after Hoge exited with an injury midway through the second quarter. Following his pick-six, BYU moved the ball well on its first two plays of the ensuing drive. Ula Tolutau ran for 11 yards. Then Hoge ran for seven more yards on a keeper. He stayed down on the turf after taking a hard hit at the end of the play and had to be helped off the field.
Before exiting, Hoge had thrown for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 5-of-9 passing. His replacement, Koy Detmer, Jr., did not fare well at all in moving the offense. Detmer totaled a mere 91 yards and three interceptions on 7-of-20 passing. BYU scored just three points over the remaining 2.5 quarters after Hoge was sidelined.
3. Austin Kafentzis fumbles the ball
Before facing Utah State, BYU had not lost a fumble all season. The Aggies recovered three fumbles against the Cougars. Perhaps the most costly one came from Austin Kafentzis near the end of the third quarter.
BYU inserted Kafentzis at quarterback out of desperation on its final third quarter drive. He got a first down on a 11-yard run. Then, on his second carry of the drive, Kafentzis lost the ball at the end of a 7-yard run when Mason Tobeck popped the ball out of his arm and Suli Tamaivena corralled it at the Cougar 41-yard line.
Utah State cashed in on the turnover. Kent Myers scored on a 19-yard run to open the fourth quarter. It gave the Aggies a 33–21 lead and put BYU in a two-possession hole through the rest of the game.
“In all phases, we could have done better,” senior linebacker Fred Warner said. “In all phases, we didn’t play the way we should have. Defense should have got more turnovers and got off the field when we needed to. Yeah, we’re just really frustrated right now.”
4. Jalen Davis intercepts Koy Detmer, Jr.
The final nail in the coffin for BYU came when Davis took another interception in for a score. With the Cougars trailing 33–24, BYU’s defense forced Utah State to punt and got the ball back for the offense with 3:29 left.
Detmer could not move the ball even a yard. He threw incomplete passes to Micah Simon and Matt Bushman before Davis intercepted him at midfield on third down and raced 50 yards for Utah State’s final touchdown.
BYU mounted one final drive after the second interception return by Davis, but the Cougars turned it over on downs at their own 42.
“It’s not going to snowball,” Sitake said. “We have great leaders on this team. We know exactly what the issues are. We just have to correct them.”
5. Micah Hannemann gets BYU on the board
For 1.5 quarters, BYU appeared ready to run away with another win over Utah State. Micah Hannemann swung the momentum in the Cougars’ favor when he returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown to put BYU on the board in the first quarter.
Hannemann read Myers perfectly and stepped in front of a bubble screen pass. He bobbled the ball for a second, but held onto it and raced untouched into the end zone. His pick-six tied the game at 7–7 and breathed life into BYU on both sides of the ball.
The Cougars eventually went ahead 21–7 early in the second quarter after Hoge threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Brayden El-Bakri off a flea flicker and a 40-yard diving grab along the side of the end zone to Beau Tanner.