Initially, things looked like they were going to be ok, as the BYU offense managed to get a couple of first downs, and a second and short in Virginia territory before a false start penalty stalled the drive and forced BYU to punt from UVA’s 35-yard line. While not an ideal opening drive, it was not a bad start for a new, and young, quarterback learning a new system, and a false start is typical of opening drive jitters. The remainder of the first quarter, BYU and UVA traded possessions without much fanfare as the storm clouds rolled in.
Halftime came early as the game was delayed for two hours due to lightning between the first and second quarters. When the game finally resumed, BYU had the ball, but went three and out to start the second quarter. BYU defensive back Craig Bills then came up with an interception, as Kyle Van Noy applied severe pressure, to stop a drive by the UVA offense, but the BYU offense once again went three and out. The defense held UVA to a three and out of its own, however, and then JD Falslev took the next drive into his own hands.
First, Falslev had an 18 yard punt return to the Virginia 32. On 2nd and 12 Falslev gained 24 yards on a catch-and-go to take BYU to the 10-yard line. Then after a couple of short runs, quarterback Taysom Hill connected with Falslev again for the touchdown giving BYU an early 7-0 lead.
BYU and Virginia trade the next few possessions. As the half wound down, Virginia managed to score on a 53-yard field goal to make the halftime score 7-3.
The two teams traded punts for the next 10 minutes before more stormy play hurt the Cougars. A bad shotgun snap on third down at BYU’s 13-yard line resulted in a safety, putting UVA up 12-7.
In the fourth quarter there was a break in the storm clouds for BYU. . Although they ultimately stalled, the Cougars started moving the ball on their first offensive possession., Hill was completing passes, and they picked up a few first downs. The BYU defense continued to hold, and on the next drive Hill led an impressive 92-yard drive that took just over two minutes and ended in the go-head touchdown with under 7 minutes to play. BYU failed to convert the 2-point attempt.
On the ensuing kickoff return momentum continued to build for BYU. UVA return man Khalek Shepherd fumbled and BYU recovered the ball just 27 yards away from the end zone. BYU was poised to take control of the game with a touchdown, but the thunder rumbled, albeit from a distance. BYU converted a field goal with about 5:02 to play, and given how well the defense had played, BYU appeared to be in a good position. Indeed, the defense forced a three and out, BYU got the ball back with 4:11 to play, and a couple of first downs would have sealed the deal. Not a problem with how they had moved the ball lately, right?
That is when lightning finally struck. On 3rd and 6 at the BYU 34-yard line, with just onder three minutes to play offensive coordinator Robert Anae had a tough call to make. A complete pass most likely means another set of downs, and three more plays to eat up clock. A more conservative run call keeps the clock running, but isn’t as likely to get a new set of downs. Anae went for option A—the pass.
The slippery ball went right through the hands of Jamaal Williams and into the hands of UVA defender Anthony Harris. Williams instantly wrapped him up, but couldn’t bring him down before he pitched the ball to teammate Henry Cole, who took the ball to the BYU 13-yard line. One play later, UVA running back Kevin Parks scored the game winning touchdown.
BYU got the ball back with 2:26 to play. While they got one first down, Hill then threw four straight incomplete passes, the last of which sailed over the head of a wide open JD Falslev, in Riley-esque fashion. (Remember Notre Dame?) Although BYU got the ball back with 20 seconds left, the opportunity had passed.
Hill finished with 175 yards on 13 for 40 passing, with 1 TD and 1 interception. Hill also had a rushing TD. Williams had 144 yards rushing on 33 carries. On defense Eathyn Manumaleuna had an impressive return from last year’s season-ending knee injury. He tied with Uani Unga for team high in tackles with 10. Kyle Van Noy had 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and four tackles overall.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Craig Bills’ diving interception with 9:06 to play in the 2nd quarter, and Kyle Van Noy getting the assist for applying a lot of pressure.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Eathyn Manumaleuna—10 tackles (6 solo), 1 TFL.
NEXT: Texas Longhorns
DATE: September 7
TIME: 5:00 PM (Mountain Time)
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