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(BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick) FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- A more confident Jake Heaps finally has the BYU offense clicking.
The freshman quarterback just needed some time to settle into the spotlight.
Heaps and Luke Ashworth connected for four touchdowns and the Cougars won their third straight game by routing Colorado State 49-10 on Saturday in the final matchup between the longtime rivals as members of the Mountain West.
The Cougars (5-5, 4-2) have found their groove the past two weeks, outscoring UNLV and Colorado State by a combined margin of 104-17.
"We seem to have some momentum and have become a unit that can make plays," said Heaps, who threw for 242 yards. "We are rolling (now). It's too bad it took so long to get rolling."
BYU took its lumps early in the year, dropping four of its first five games as Heaps struggled to find his footing.
He's again on solid ground, his confidence soaring.
"I think we're playing really good football," Heaps said.
Ashworth had a game he won't soon forget. He hauled in TD receptions of 62, 7, 36 and 8 yards to finish one shy of the school record for touchdowns in a game. The scoring catches were the only receptions Ashworth had on the gloomy afternoon.
"It was fun to catch some balls today," said Ashworth, who finished with 113 yards. "We slung it quite a bit."
The BYU defense did its part, too, forcing four turnovers -- including linebacker Kyle Van Noy's 44-yard fumble return -- as the Cougars beat CSU (3-8, 2-5) for a seventh straight time. A rematch will have to wait with the Cougars leaving after this season to become an independent and no future dates looming.
Did the Cougars have an inkling this was coming?
"We know what we're capable of," Heaps said. "It's a matter of going out and doing it. This isn't a shock to me; we could've been doing this since Week 1. It's taken us a little while to get there."
BYU built a 35-0 lead at halftime and sent many CSU fans scurrying for the exits, departing just as snow began to fall.
With a big lead heading into the second half, the Cougars turned to their ground game to run out the clock. Zed Mendenhall had a 1-yard TD plunge and little-used tailback David Foote scored on a 31-yard scamper late in the game.
"We just took another step forward in our execution and as a football team," coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I don't think we've reached our potential yet, and I there's an urgency that I feel and our team feels to reach that potential."
The win boosts the Cougars' postseason aspirations, needing just one more over either New Mexico next weekend or at Utah in the regular season finale to become bowl eligible. Mendenhall has guided the team to five straight bowls since taking over at BYU in 2005.
"That's in the back of my mind," Ashworth said of a bowl. "But we're really focused on New Mexico."
The contest was billed as a matchup between freshmen QBs, but Heaps stole the show, overshadowing and outplaying Pete Thomas, who threw two interceptions and was sacked twice. Thomas finished with 292 yards passing, giving him 2,565 for the season and moving him past TCU's Andy Dalton for second place in MWC history for a freshman.
Thomas had a late 22-yard TD strike to Raymond Carter with around 3 minutes remaining. Moments earlier, Ben DeLine hit a 34-yard field goal to thwart BYU's bid for a shutout.
"This is the most embarrassed I've been after a football game," Thomas said. "I know our fans are embarrassed. We didn't expect to come out like this. Thanks (goodness) we have another game because we need to redeem ourselves."
The Cougars resorted to a little gadgetry to get on the board first as Ashworth hauled in a 62-yard TD pass on a flea-flicker.
That's pretty much how the day went for the Cougars as they rolled up a season-best 526 total yards.
"It was great play calling," Ashworth said. "We had confidence those plays would work out. They worked in practice all week."
Ashworth's four touchdown catches ties the school mark for a contest set by John VanderWouden in 1976 and matched by Kirk Pendleton seven years later. The BYU record of five TDs for a game is shared by Luke Staley (2001), Ronney Jenkins (1998) and Eric Lane (1979).
"Luke played a phenomenal game. It was unreal," Heaps said. "He's giving everything he's got to this team."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)