BYU welcomed an SEC opponent, Mississippi State, into Lavell Edwards Stadium for what became a defensive show down Friday night. This game, at times, felt like an SEC game with run heavy offenses and strong defenses ruling the game. It was also a night with BYU fans hoping to see fan favorite running back Jamaal Williams break the BYU all-time rushing record.
Mississippi State struck first on a nifty run-pass option from quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to Keith Mixon. The bitter pill to swallow for BYU was that play should have never happened. BYU was called for a silly five yard penalty on a fourth and four yard to go situation that kept the drive going.
The BYU offense immediately answered with a long fifteen play, seventy-five yard drive that took over eight minutes off the clock. The offensive line opened a few holes to run through and Taysom Hill made some plays with his feet and hooked up with Nick Kurtz for an eighteen yard gain for some excitement. BYU scored on a fourth and goal on a great play action fake with Hill finding tight end Hunter Marshall wide open in the back of the end zone.
On the next drive BYU seemed to finally get something going after Micah Hanneman picked off Fitzerald. BYU then started running the ball well and were aided by a key passive interference penalty call to get into scoring position-only to miss a 42 yard field goal.
The momentum quickly changed as Fitzgerald started marching Mississippi State down the field on a 75 yard drive. BYU struggled to get pressure as Fitzgerald was able to pick apart the BYU zone coverage. This drive was also aided by a silly offsides penalty on a 3rd and goal that was stuffed by the defense. Mississippi State scored on the next play to take a 14-7 lead.
The game went back and forth with neither team really gaining any edge until the end of the third quarter. Johnny Linehan was able to pin the Bulldogs deep in their own side of the field and the defense was able to force a punt leading to good field position. BYU marched down the field for a first and goal and it all went wrong after that. Eventually, they ended up with 3rd and goal from the 15 yard line where Taysom threw a dart to Moroni Laulu-Pututau for the game tying touchdown.
The excitement of the fourth quarter continued with both teams seemingly having chances to win the game but Kai Nacua picked of Fitzerald once while the Bulldogs were driving and Fitzgerald tripped in the backfield on 4th and 1. BYU was not able to convert on either situation.
After regulation, Mississippi State got the ball first in overtime. Fitzgerald was able to convert a first down and then a pass interference penalty put the ball on the 2 yard line. On the next play Fitzgerald broke out of the pocket and then leaped over a defender into the endzone.
On BYU's first play of overtime, Jamaal Williams gained 8 yards to finally break the record. On possibly the most exciting play of the night, Hill was strip-sacked and fumbled the ball, but Tanner Balderee (the game MVP) was johnny-on-the-spot and picked up the fumble and gained 8 yards. Taysom tied the game on a qb sneak from the 1-yard-line sending the game to a second overtime.
On the first play of the second overtime Taysom was able to find Tanner Balderee for a 25 yard catch and run. The led immediately into a perfectly thrown ball by MSU's Fitzgerald, but it was dropped in the endzone. Mississippi State gained a first down on combined runs by Fitzgerald and Aries Williams. BYU's d then combined for a sack by Sae Tautu, then a pass break up in the endzone by Michael Davis and Micah Hanneman and stopping an option play to bring up 4th and 9. Then Corbin Kaufusi was able to apply edge pressure forcing a bad throw by Fitzgerald leading to a pass break up by Fred Warner to win the game.
Overall this was a great win for the Cougars. They showed resilience and made plays when it was critical to stay in the game, tie the game, and then eventually win the game in overtime.
This marks the first time that BYU has beaten a Big 10 team and an SEC team in the same season.