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BYU football: Cougar offense leads to shutout victory against Hawaii

BYU football: Cougar offense leads to shutout victory against Hawaii



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PROVO — The BYU Cougars had a convincing win against the Hawaii Warriors Friday, shutting out the Warriors 47-0.

BYU's offense had been shaky the past two weeks, and the team felt like it was time to reignite its fire and execute well.

Heading into Friday's contest, Riley Nelson had been suffering from a back injury for a few weeks and people were unsure about who the starting quarterback would be.

As the game began, freshman Taysom Hill trotted out as the starter and helped lead BYU to its victory.

Hill's skills played a major role in the convincing win. Hill finished the game passing 12-for-21 and rushing for 143 yards and one touchdown.

Hill connected with wide receiver Ross Apo during the beginning of the second quarter for a 22-yard touchdown, Apo's first touchdown of the season.

One of Hill's best plays came during the second quarter. He kept the ball and rushed 68 yards to score BYU's third touchdown.

Hill was excited that he was able to have the chance to run that play and make the touchdown.

"I had been asking for that play all night," Hill said. "My line did a phenomenal job and I was able to run up the midddle. Luckily, I outran them and it was great."

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall was pleased with how Hill handled being the starter.

"Taysom is progressing in terms of vision and poise," Mendenhall said. "He is a great runner as you saw, and the drop-back game will catch up."

Another star offensive player was fellow freshman Jamaal Williams. Williams became the main running back after starter Michael Alisa fractured his arm during the first quarter.

Williams finished the game as BYU's leading rusher with 155 yards and two touchdowns. His longest rush was 35 yards.

Williams was happy he could step up and help his team when it needed him.

"It feels good to come in at 17 and to have everyone believe in me like they do," Williams said. "I didn’t know that Mike was really injured, so when they told me, I knew I had to step up. Whether that meant carrying the ball or blocking for Taysom, I had to step up."

Mendenhall was also happy with how Williams performed and is looking forward to see how he performs in the future.

"Jamaal can run with speed," Mendenhall said. "He isn’t a power back, but he can also makes some catches. This was a nice start for him. Now, we will get to see how he handles it against tougher and stiffer competition."

BYU finished the game with 396 rushing yards, the most under Mendenhall.

All seven of BYU's touchdowns were scored by either a freshman or sophomore — with tight end Devin Mahina and running back Paul Lasike adding TDs.

Mendenhall was happy with how his team, specifically the offense, has improved.

"After the past two games, I think there has been a lot of improvement in clean play and moving the ball offensively," Mendenhall said. "Even though Hawaii was struggling, we needed to see some success tonight for our own confidence.”

While the offense had a chance to shine and prove itself this game, BYU's defense was also able to make some vital plays.

BYU had gone two games without forcing a turnover. Against Hawaii, the Cougars forced three turnovers — two fumbles and an interception.

BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was proud of the defense for forcing turnovers and that it held Hawaii to zero points.

"It means a lot to us to get a shutout," Ansah said. "We have been working hard towards this. We can do better, and we have things to improve on. Turnovers are something we always focus on, and we need to get more of them. All we need is a plus one or more. We keep practicing them in practice. They say practice makes perfect, so that’s what we’re doing."

Even though BYU is excited about its win, it is already ready to get back to work on focusing on its game next week against Utah State.

"This isn't the best game we have played," Preston Hadley said. "We still have a lot of work to do so we can get ready for Utah State this week."

Ashley Anderson is a senior at BYU majoring in public relations with the hope of one day having a career in sports public relations.

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