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PROVO -- BYU came into the game versus UNLV looking to accomplish three things on offense; throw the ball more, be more balanced between the running and passing game, and convert on third down.
BYU was able to do exactly that with a dominant 55-7 win over UNLV. The Cougars came out throwing and proclaimed gunslinger Jake Heaps lived up to his nickname. Heaps had his best collegiate football game to date completing 20 of 32 passing attempts for a career-high 294 yards.
"I feel that I'm improving on each and every play," said Heaps who hadn't thrown for over 100 yards in the last two games. "It really felt good to play the way I played. I have great receivers and great tight ends. We have some amazing talent and great players. It's taken a little while to gel and get connected but at this point there's no excuse. We played a great game but we can get even better."
"I think we played probably our most complete game today from an offensive perspective," said Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. "We had more balance than what we have had, in terms of running the ball and throwing it. Overall it was a solid team performance on both sides."
BYU's offense clearly had a breakout day. The Cougars scored 30 more points than their previous season-high, they racked up 516 total offensive yards on 83 plays, nine different players caught a pass and the five different Cougar running backs rumbled for 216 yards on the ground.
True freshman running back Josh "Juice" Quezada had a career high day with three touchdowns, running for 65 rushing yards on 13 touches, and averaging five yards per carry.
"I feel grateful for the opportunity I had today," Quezada said. "I had a lot and the holes were beautiful. I didn't realize how many touchdowns I scored until afterwards."
"I can't give enough credit to the offensive line," said running back Bryan Kariya, who ran for 46 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. "Those guys play so hard every single week. It really is the most difficult thing to do."
BYU was also able to be efficient on third down. They completed 11 of 17 third down attempts. One of the most impressive of the completions came late in the third quarter.
BYU, facing a third down with 14 yards to go, looked to pass the ball. UNLV brought the heavy rush right off the snap. Heaps stepped up in the pocket and delivered a perfect pass to Luke Ashworth for a gain of 18 yards and a first down. On third and eight of the same drive, Heaps completed another pass to Ashworth again for a big first down. BYU was able to continue the drive and go on to score a touchdown.
"This is the breakout game we've been talking about all season. The running and receiving game was awesome. Heaps has been maturing every week. He's growing every week," said running back JJ DiLuigi, who ran for 80 yards and a score and caught four passes for 44 yards.
"Third down conversions and getting moving on third down was key," said Heaps.
On a side note, there was one act that caught attention almost more than any play during the game.
Towards the end of the fourth quarter BYU had placed their starters on the sidelines, and had their second string players on the field. After a tough run, sophomore running back David Foote took a hard hit to the head by UNLV defensive back Alex De Giacomo which knocked him unconscious. As Foote was being tended to, De Giacomo approached Mendenhall to apologize for the hit while other UNLV players walked over to check on Foote. Mendenhall responded to De Giacomo's apology with a pat on the back.
"He's a classy kid. He was just trying to play hard, and the fact that he would come up to me and apologize is really to be commended. It speaks a lot of Coach Hauck and the team he's raising." Mendenhall said.
The Cougars, having won three of their last four, now travel to Colorado State to take on the Rams, who lost Saturday to San Diego State 24-19.