It’s a good thing the BYU football team allows freshman punter Ryan Rehkow to hold on extra points.
Otherwise he would’ve been really, really bored during Saturday night’s game against Texas State at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
BYU put its offensive efficiency on display as it scored touchdowns on six of its first seven offensive drives (the other ended on a fumble off of a bad snap) as the Cougars routed the Bobcats, 52-14, in front of 6,000 fans.
“I’m happy we got the win,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “It was so good to see our fans at home. They made a lot of noise and I’m pretty sure we used all 6,000 tickets. That 6,000 that came made a lot of noise and I’m really happy they were able to enjoy the game. We’ve had a lot of games without fans this season so that was a lot of fun. I’m just really thankful that they were able to be here and cheered our guys even when the game was easily in control.”
Cougar junior quarterback Zach Wilson had another impressive showing, going 19-for-25 through the air for 287 yards and four touchdowns. He added 15 yards rushing on four carries and even had a 16-yard reception on a pass from wide receiver Neil Pau’u.
The Bobcats actually had a nice start to the game, using unusual line formations to confuse the BYU defense as Texas State marched 75 yards in eight plays and scored a touchdown to go up 7-0.
“I think Texas State had some new wrinkles in their scheme that we hadn’t seen all year long,” Sitake said. “We were able to adjust, but that first drive went quick and wish we could have gotten that one back. We have our defense set up so that if we get that look we’re ready for it, but usually it is only one or two plays and they did it for most the night. They did a lot of wide splits and things we hadn’t seen. A lot of credit to Texas State for being innovative and creative in finding ways to get the ball down the field and get a score early. I’m glad our guys settled down and our offense was able to keep playing and stay on top of it to give us some time to make adjustments to our defensive scheme.”
That would virtually be the last thing that really went in favor of the visitors, however, as the Cougars dominated all three phases of the game the rest of the way.
It start with an offensive answer by the Wilson-led offense as BYU tied the game with a 10-play drive capped by a four-yard TD run by junior running back Lopini Katoa.
The Cougar defense stopped Texas State on its next drive, then BYU marched to the Bobcat 33-yard line before facing a fourth-and-3.
Instead of taking a chance on the long field goal, the Cougars elected to go for it. Wilson faked a handoff, then found freshman wide receiver Keanu Hill open down the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown and BYU never looked back.
“I have a lot of faith in our players,” Sitake said. “It was early in the game and there was an opportunity for us. You go with your instincts. If we execute well, we are a really tough team to stop.”
Cougar offensive lineman Brady Christensen said that players love the trust that is shown in those moments.
“We came in knowing that we were going to go for it more on fourth downs and be aggressive,” Christensen said. “We’re never surprised when the call comes in. We always know that we’ve got to buckle up on fourth down and short. We’ve got to make a play to back our coaches up for being aggressive.”
In the second quarter, the Cougars added an 11-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier, a three-yard TD pass from Wilson to freshman tight end Isaac Rex and a 45-yard bomb from Wilson to junior wide receiver Dax Milne to build a 35-7 halftime lead.
Not only did the BYU defense keep Texas State from putting together any more long drives, it also had a big defensive stand after the Cougar offense fumbled the ball at its own 10-yard line because of a bad snap.
The Bobcats tried four plays but the fourth-down pass was batted down by junior defensive back Keenan Ellis to force the turnover on downs.
Although Rehkow didn’t get much punting work in the first half, he did get four opportunities after the break.
The first came on the opening drive of the third quarter and he had to field a low snap, but he got the ball away before getting nailed.
The resulting roughing-the-kicker penalty kept the BYU drive alive and the Cougars turned it into another Wilson-to-Rex touchdown connection, this one covering 30 yards.
Rehkow would later add a 60-yard punt that was fielded at the goal line and ended up at the 4-yard line, then took advantage of an opening on a fourth-and-1 punt play to run for 49 yards.
“I probably should’ve told him to punt it,” Sitake said. “I apologized after the game to Texas State head coach Jake Spadival because that’s not the type of team we want to be.”
BYU also added its first defensive touchdown of the season when Cougar senior linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi snatched a McBride pass near the sideline, then weaved through traffic to return it 31 yards to the end zone.
With the outcome decided, BYU emptied the bench on both sides of the ball. Texas State took advantage with a scoring drive in the fourth quarter to get to the final Bobcat score.
“It’s nice to get our guys that experience,” Sitake said. “We want to make sure our team is really deep and know we have guys we can count on with a lot of experience.”
The Cougars will now turn their attention to getting ready to host Western Kentucky on Oct. 31 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.