DALLAS — BYU came away with a 24-21 victory over Tulsa in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, giving BYU a 10-win season for the fifth time under coach Bronco Mendenhall. Here are some of the instant observations from the game.
The defense once again kept BYU in the game. On the first defensive series of the game, Tulsa marched down the field and easily got a touchdown. BYU quickly made the needed adjustments and the defense was once again on track. Early in the second half after a Reilly Nelson interception, Kyle Van Noy rallied the defense to come up with a huge red zone stop, which resulted in a missed field goal, keeping the Cougars within four points. The defense kept Tulsa in check and gave the offense the opportunity to come up with a few plays to win the game.
Nelson struggled to get the offense moving in the first half. The Tulsa defense knew who it was dealing with. Nelson seemed to throw a worse ball than normal and he seemed to struggle with his ability to keep the play alive. Tulsa dialed up pressure that contained and stopped Nelson.
In the second half, Nelson seemed to provide a little spark to the offense. With three minutes to go in the game, Nelson once again reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out the needed tools to will the Cougars to a victory at the last possible moment. Nelson was able to pick up a first down on a 4th and 9. Somehow he made the first defender miss on his way to a 14-yard run, keeping BYU hope alive.
Nelson later threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Cody Hoffman on a fake spike play. The Tulsa defense was caught off guard as Hoffman caught the final touchdown of the season.
The offensive play calling seemed to be off in the first half. Brandon Doman called several misdirection plays while the Tulsa defense seemed to be ready to play good assignment defense. The running game never really got going throughout the game. Several of the running plays attempted to get to the edge, but nearly all those attempts failed. The offense struggled in the game but just enough plays were made and the Cougars were able to squeak out a victory.
BYU special teams played a great game. Riley Stephenson pinned the Tulsa offense deep in its own territory time and time again. JD Falslev made several great decisions when fielding punts and provided BYU with good field possession to begin their drives.
BYU played a good game against a good Tulsa team. BYU was faced with several struggles but was able to find ways to overcome those struggles. Both the offense and defense stepped up in their moment of need, allowing the Cougars to beat Tulsa.