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(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
By DOUG ALDEN, AP Sports Writer
PROVO, Utah (AP) -- The way his defense was playing, Brigham Young quarterback Max Hall could have afforded a few mistakes in his college debut.
He didn't need much of a cushion.
Hall passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns in his college debut as BYU beat Arizona 20-7 Saturday in the season opener for both schools.
Hall was playing in his first game since his senior year of high school four years ago but showed no signs of a lengthy layoff. He completed 26 of 39 passes, didn't throw an interception and was sacked just once.
After redshirting as a freshman at Arizona State, serving a Mormon church mission and sitting out last year under NCAA transfer rules, Hall was glad the wait was over.
"It was good to get out there and finally play football again," Hall said. "The whole week long, I just kind of prepared myself. I just wanted to kind of stay within myself, stay within the offense, don't try to do anything special."
That was exactly what coach Bronco Mendenhall wanted from the new quarterback, who is replacing John Beck -- the second-leading passer in school history.
"We had anticipated a relatively low scoring game with an emphasis on run and balance to help Max and I think he managed it very well," said coach Bronco Mendenhall, who improved to 1-2 in season openers.
Hall kept it simple. His longest play of the day was a 48-yard pass to Harvey Unga, who was wrapped up for a short gain but his knee never touched the ground and the 220-pound back rumbled his way down the field. Hall threw nine passes to Unga, who took one in for the first touchdown and added an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Unga ran for 67 yards had 127 yards receiving.
The Wildcats finished with just 255 yards of offense, including the 80 they gained against the BYU reserves on Arizona's only scoring drive.
The Cougar starters flustered quarterback Willie Tuitama, holding the Wildcats to just three first downs in the first three quarters.
"I expected us to play well and I would say I think we exceeded our expectations," said Bryan Kehl, who led BYU with 12 tackles. "We don't have a bunch of superman athletes. We're a bunch of small slow guys and we play great defense because we them in front of us. We hustle to the ball."
The Cougars ended last season with 10 straight wins and extended the streak to 11 by nearly shutting out the Wildcats, who didn't score until 53 seconds remained in the game.
"We made some critical mistakes in some critical times of the game," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. "We weren't quite in sync and against a quality team like BYU, you can't make those kinds of mistakes."
Arizona, one of two teams to beat BYU last year, had just 32 yards rushing and 223 yards passing as the offense sputtered under new coordinator Sonny Dykes' spread scheme. The Wildcats finally avoided the shutout when Tuitama completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Earl Mitchell with 53 seconds remaining.
Tuitama finished 26-for-36 for 216 yards. The Wildcats hadn't been shut out in a season opener since 1963.
"BYU isn't our whole season. It's one game and it's done with," said Chris James, who led the Wildcats with 41 yards rushing.
James' total was offset by the 19 yards Arizona lost when Tuitama was sacked twice.
The Cougars finished with 392 yards of offense and were 7-for-15 on third-down conversions under the rookie quarterback, who credited his defense with making it an easy day.
BYU stopped Arizona on a fourth-and-5 and got the ball back at the Cougars' 28. Hall led a seven play drive, hitting Unga on a 27-yard touchdown pass that put the Cougars up 7-0 with 6:02 left in the first quarter. Unga caught the ball around the 10, spun around and ran through Dominick Patrick's tackle attempt and into the end zone.
Hall added a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta with 38 seconds left in the second quarter, giving BYU a 13-0 halftime lead after Mitch Payne missed the point-after kick.
Unga added the final touchdown on an 11-yard run with 3:24 left.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)