BOISE (ABC4 Sports) – After four tortuous weeks of defeat, BYU finally took the lead.
Puka Nacua received 14 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including an acrobatic hold to score the go-ahead with 1:46 left, Jaren Hall went through 377 yards, and BYU defeated Boise State 31-28 on Saturday night.
BYU (5-5) scored a four-game losing streak in the final match of a 12-game streak with neighboring Boise State. It was only the second time that the Cougars have won on the famous blue turf of the Broncos.
“This is a dream come true,” Nacua said. “Those are the moments we live for. I dreamed of it since I was a kid, 4th and goal. It wasn’t the best aspect to throw that go-ball, but they threw it at me and that’s my job to go out there and make plays and I got it. “
“We wanted to establish our running game to give us some space to work on our gameplay passes,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “I think we are able to stay balanced. Their defense was fantastic. We knew it was going to be a fight and there was going to be a tough slip, but we keep following it. “
BYU didn’t seem to struggle much, except in the first half when the Cougars entered Boise State 25 where they committed two turnovers and one turnovers on downs.
Boise State (6-3) saw its four-game winning streak ended when the Broncos’ second home defense surrendered by 532 yards, the highest of the season.
“We are still able to achieve our goals,” said Boise State manager Andy Avalos. “We decided to protect the Blues tonight, but we didn’t make it. But we can learn a lot from this ”.
It looked like the Broncos were learning how to win a tight match after falling behind. But BYU had other ideas.
Trailing 28-24 with 6:28 remaining, Hall put together a nine-game 75-yard drive that ended when Nacua made a 6-yard juggling touchdown on the fourth down. He passed Boise State cornerback Caleb Biggers, spun in the air while securing control of the ball, then stomped his feet down.
“That guy is the most energetic guy on the field, most confident, most convinced, and he puts time into the game, he’s impressive,” Hall said of Nacua. “I love seeing him go out there and do his things.”
“He’s one of the best college football players,” Sitake said of his main receiver. “And he gets so much attention that he opens things up for everyone else.”
BYU dominated the first half on the stats sheet, but not on the scoreboard as the half ended with the score of 7.
The Cougars missed a field goal in chip shot on the fourth and goal from the half-foot line with one second remaining in the half. But after four combined timeouts in a cat and mouse match, Lopini Katoa’s dive from the right tackle was filled by Boise State’s Ezekiel Noa on the goal line.
But that was a decision Sitake won’t be scrutinized long after the Cougars ran off with a win.
Boise State, which collected just 76 yards of attack in the first half, found its rhythm in the second half and turned the game into a seesaw. There were six lead changes in the second half as neither defense had a good response to the offensive outburst.
Boise State quarterback Taylen Green had 17 of 23 for 220 yards and two touchdowns. George Holani added 75 yards to land.
During the Cougars’ four straight losses, their defense struggled, giving up over 400 yards in each defeat and over 500 yards twice. But the Cougars answered the bell, keeping Boise State less than 400 yards with 324, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since their last win, a 38-26 win over Utah State.
After ten grueling weeks, the Cougars finally have a week off before hosting Utah Tech in the Cougars home final on November 19th.