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BYU vs San Jose State Recap: Cougars defense steals the day in 17-16 win

A late night game in San Jose turned into a defensive battle.

Bronson Kaufusi and the Cougars defense showed up to play in San Jose.
Bronson Kaufusi and the Cougars defense showed up to play in San Jose.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The BYU Cougars and San Jose State Spartans were gifted with a red eye game tonight and both teams took their turns looking sluggish. The Cougars were playing without a number of their offensive lineman due to injury or "non-injury" missed time. San Jose was also hurt on offense as their top receiver had his season ended due to injury last game.

The Spartans won the toss and elected to play offense first. Between a combination of passing and running they moved the ball down the field and found themselves at the three-yard line before a Bronson Kaufusi and Jherremya Leuta-Douyere sack pushed them back to the 15 and forced a field goal. BYU took their own turn with the ball and drove 75 yards in 10 plays as Mitch Mathews and Terren Houk each caught three passes, the last a four-yard touchdown pass that Mathews reached back to catch the pass as the ball was thrown behind him.

Down 7-3 the Spartans once again ran a number of plays but only went 26 yards before settling for a punt that landed in the endzone. BYU would once again prove effective on the ground and through the air as they went 80 yards in 17 plays to take the 14-3 lead on an Algernon Brown five-yard touchdown run. The teams stalled a bit as they traded punts before San Jose State drove inside the Cougars 20 before fumbling the ball on a fourth and inches that was recovered by Fred Warner. On the ensuing drive the Cougars recorded their first catch by a tight end as Remington Peck grabbed a ball for 18 yards before the drive stalled once again. With less than two minutes in the half the Spartans punted inside the Cougars 20 yard line. The Cougars drove down the field as Devon Blackmon hauled in a 40 yard pass with the pass interference. Mitch Mathews almost pulled in another long pass but the ball fell out before the touchdown was called. The next play the Cougars had a miscommunication on a route and the ball was thrown directly to Cleveland Wallace III and returned 61 yards for a touchdown. At the half the Spartans were only down 14-10 in a half that was dominated by the Cougars, giving them life in the second half.

The second half started much like the end of the first as BYU stalled on their first drive after a 47 yard kickoff return by Trey Dye. The Spartans subsequently held onto the ball for 14 plays and almost eight minutes before stalling in Cougar territory and opting for a 46 yard field goal. Trying to pull within one the ball went from the right hash-mark and hit the left pole and bounced back to keep the Cougars up by four. The teams would once again trade punts before BYU took over at their own 17 after a personal foul call on Colby Pearson.

On the first play Tanner Mangum scrambled to his left and found Mathews downfield for a 30 yard jump ball catch with another pass interference. Once again in Spartan territory the Cougars found themselves with a long 3rd down. After going 0 for their last four 3rd down attempts, Mangum found Nick Kurtz for a first down inside the 20. After a holding call pushed the Cougars out of the blue zone, Mangum found Pearson inside the five but it was again called back for a hold on Francis Bernard. With 2nd and 30 the Cougars rolled out Mangum and he found Blackmon for a 24 yard gain. An incomplete pass intended for Blackman, that would have gone for a touchdown, ended the threat and Trevor Sampson slipped the ball through the posts for a 31 yard field goal to give BYU the 17-10 lead.

Once again the Spartans appeared poised to move the chains as they gained 12 yards on first down but ended up with another 3rd and 3. Fred Warner was not going to let them get the first down this time as he chased Potter down from behind for his second sack of the game. With just under nine minutes to go in the game the Cougars wanted to put together a drive to take time off the clock, and score a few more points. Once again a penalty hurt the Cougars as a delay of game call pushed the Cougars to 2nd and 1 from just outside their own 20. Mangum didn't care as he threw a screen to Bernard who avoided two defenders in route to a 19 yard gain. After a sack the Cougars faced a 3rd and 12 but only manged to get 11 on a pass to Blackmon.

The stalled drive once again gave the Spartans life with just over five minutes left in the game. Starting from inside their own 20, the Spartans were looking to drive the field and tie the game up. The first play looked good for the Cougars as they dropped the Spartans for a two yard loss. However, the next play should have ended after just a couple of yards but a missed tackle by Kai Nacua allowed the Spartans a short third down. With a tough line the Cougars held on third forcing the Spartans to go for it on 4th and inches inside their own 25. With the blitz called to stuff the run, the Cougars defense lost track of Potter as he ran a bootleg and gained 34 yards before being hit out of bounds for another 15 yard penalty. BYU forced the Spartans to face 3rd and eight from the 25 with less than two minutes in the game. Once again Potter found a receiver that was able to stretch just past the first down at the Cougar 16. With less than 1:30 Potter was tripped up for a five yard loss before launching the ball into the endzone and a controversial pass interference call. With the ball at the six and less than a minute to go, the Spartans threw the ball just out of bounds on first down. On second down the Spartans once again ran Potter on a sweep and he found the endzone for the touchdown. The Spartans wanted to win the game and went for the two point conversion, shocking everyone in the stadium. The play looked like a sweep to Tyler Ervin but he slowed  up and tried to throw the ball to Freeman but the Cougars defense held and knocked the ball away. The ensuing onsides kick found it's way out of bounds and the Cougars were able to run out the clock for the 17-16 win.

Once again the Cougars survived but it was an ugly game that the Cougars may have nightmares about. The defense held their ground as they held Ervin to only 80 yards rushing and Potter to 147 yards passing. The offense struggle on the ground with only 36 yards rushing and 293 yards passing. Now with a 7-2 record the Cougars will travel to Kansas City to take on the Missouri Tigers at 5:30 MT on the SEC network.