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BYU football vs. Southern Utah final: Cougars get bowl eligible with 37-7 win

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BYU took care of business to become bowl eligible.

Southern Utah v BYU Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

Despite an absolutely perfect fall afternoon and a surprisingly full LaVell Edwards Stadium, it wasn’t quite the perfect game for BYU — but the Cougars did what they needed to in a 37-7 drubbing of Southern Utah on Saturday.

For some reason, the BYU A-team struggled to run the ball. At one point, BYU had 16 yards on 14 rushing attempts, which included a 15-yard scoring run from Taysom Hill.

But, Hill made a few of his better throws all season in TD strikes to Nick Kurtz and Colby Pearson in the first half, and BYU took a 31-7 lead into halftime. He finished throwing 22 of 29 for 320 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Tanner Mangum took one series in the first half then played most of the second, finishing 10 of 12 for 105 yards, giving BYU 425 passing yards on the day.

Mitch Juergens topped all receivers with 82 yards on six catches. Kurtz (69), Brayden El-Bakri (69), KJ Hall (68), and Pearson (51) all finished with 50 or more receiving yards.

In fact, aside from the defense, Hall, son of BYU player Kalin Hall, was the star of the game. BYU’s rushing attack got going with Hall toting the rock. He finished with 59 yards and a score on 12 carries, giving him 127 total yards.

BYU’s second leading rusher was Mangum, who ripped off a scramble of 35 yards in the fourth quarter, then added another on a drive that finished with a 20-yard Rhett Almond field goal with less than a minute left, finishing the scoring at 37-7.

Mangum finished with 42 rushing yards.

Despite the curious struggles in the first-half run game, BYU still outgained SUU by a whopping 596-165 margin, totaling 33 first downs to the Thunderbirds’ seven.

The Cougars did turn the ball over three times, only forcing one turnover.

At 6-4, BYU qualified for a bowl game and accepted a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Ted Tollner extended the official invitation on behalf of the bowl, and Tom Holmoe accepted that invitation.

The Cougars finish their 2016 regular season campaign by hosting UMass on Saturday, Nov. 19 at noon, aired on BYUtv and ESPN3. The finale is a home game against Utah State on Nov. 26 with time still to be determined, airing on ESPNU.