In a late night affair between the BYU Cougars and the Fresno State University Bulldogs, the Bulldogs came out with a 20-13 win. Once again scoring less than 15 points doesn’t win the game for the Cougars and a rough season continues.
After a breakout game a week ago for the Cougars offense, the opposite happened in Fresno. BYU received the kickoff but went three and out and looked bored in the process. The defense followed the same game plan and let the Bulldogs march down field before finally holding on a third down, allowing only a field goal. Like most of the first half the Cougars once again couldn’t help themselves as dropped passes, bad reads, and limited rushes gave the Bulldogs the ball back. Fresno State would take advantage and on 3rd and 10 they completed a long pass to set up the only touchdown of the half, a few plays later.
The defense buckled down the rest of the half, only allowing the 10 points, and the offense managed to drive twice before settling for field goals. The Cougars made it to the 9 yard line on the first field goal but a penalty for 12 men breaking the huddle stalled that drive. Rhett Almond had a highlight as he kicked a career long 46 yard field goal to end the half. Both teams looked largely unimpressive during the first half but the Cougars defense kept the team within striking distance. Once again the Cougars found a new way to penalize themselves in the half as during a punt return they were called for having two players with the same number on the field at the same time.
The second half started with another drive by Fresno State, aided by a pass interference on Chris Wilcox, that ended with a field goal and a 13-6 Bulldogs lead. The Cougars offense showed some spark on their first drive as they drove down field with a mix of quality rushes and pinpoint passes. Once again as the Cougars entered the redzone the offense struggled as an apparent fumble would stop the drive. However, on review the ground caused Squally Canada to fumble the ball and BYU was given the ball back. Fast forward a few plays and the Cougars watched Canada waltz in from 4 yards out for their first touchdown of the game.
Suddenly with a tie game and a 75 yard drive under their belt, the Cougars were starting to feel good about themselves. Unfortunately the defense didn’t get the memo and allowed the Bulldogs to drive down the field once more, with only the end of the 3rd quarter stopping them. The drive continued into the 4th as the defense pretended to put up a fight, forcing two 3rd down plays inside the 10, but ultimately gave up the go ahead touchdown to the Bulldogs on a 2 yard touchdown run.
With only one drive in the 3rd quarter the Cougars offense needed to cash in on every possession they had in the 4th quarter but were put in a hole as they started on the 17 after a poor kick return. With a few precision passes and some quality runs from Canada looked to have the Cougars moving, And then Tanner Mangum went down untouched. Mangum managed to get rid of the ball before going down but it didn’t look good as he rolled around in pain and had to be helped off the field. For the second time in the game the Cougars had to put Beau Hoge in the game mid-drive. After a failed run and an overthrown pass, the Cougars were forced to punt in a critical situation.
With Mangum being carted to the locker room with his parents in tow, the Cougars defense stepped up and forced a punt to give the offense another chance with 8 minutes to go in the game. It looked like the drive was over but a pass interference on the Bulldogs gave the Cougars a first down inside the Bulldogs 40. Once again dropped passes crippled the offense and forced the Cougars into a critical 4th and 1 from just outside the 25. Unfortunately a roll-out pass attempt by Hoge ended up being tipped and falling to the ground and the Cougars turned it over on downs. With just under 6 minutes left in the game the Bulldogs had the ball and the lead.
Once again the defense stepped up and held the Bulldogs to a 3 and out, however a 67 yard punt and a poor decision to field it gave the Cougars the ball at their own 5. In complete BYU fashion on 1st down, Hoge found Bushman down the middle only to have it pop out on the hit and into the hands of the waiting defense. With the ball at the Cougars 24 the Bulldogs were content running the ball and the clock. The Cougars put up some fight but once again didn’t do near enough to win the game and finally eliminated themselves from the post season. The Cougars offense ended up out-performing the Bulldogs on the stat sheet, but still didn’t put up amazing numbers as they didn’t reach 350 total yards.
The Cougars didn’t only lose the game but very well could have lost another starter depending on the Mangum diagnosis. BYU now has a short week as they prepare for a night game on Friday night against UNLV in Las Vegas.