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As Utah State traveled to Provo to face BYU, many were saying that Utah State was the best team in Utah. However, BYU came ready to dispel this thought and ended up winning the battle 6-3.
BYU’s one scoring drive was the turning point in this match. The drive came when BYU received the ball on its own 47 with 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill had perfect execution on this drive, completing 4-of-4 for 61 yards.
Three of the passes were to wide receiver Cody Hoffman, with two of the completions being more than 20 yards.
BYU was able to get the ball to the 3-yard line with three seconds left in the quarter and Hill completed a pass to wide receiver JD Falslev for the touchdown.
As BYU celebrated its touchdown, punter Riley Stephenson missed the extra point attempt, which made BYU settle for its final score of six points.
Hill said that his mentality going into the drive was to score and create a lead for BYU.
“We moved the ball pretty well on those guys,” Hill said. “Let’s go score was our mentality.”
Hoffman credits the clean play during that drive to practice and the faith Hill displayed in him.
“We knew that our defense was going to come up big and we would have less than a minute to score,” Hoffman said. “We work on that and our execution in practice. Taysom had faith in me, and we were able to make some big plays and score a touchdown.”
Hill finished the night as BYU’s leading rusher with 80 yards and completed 24-of-36 for 235 yards and one interception.
After a few not so great games for Hoffman, he returned as the Cougars' leading receiver with eight receptions for 114 yards.
Hill acknowledged Hoffman’s play and the talent he brings to the Cougars' offense.
“Cody was playing well and getting the ball tonight,” Hill said. “He made some great catches tonight, and that is what he does.”
While Hill and Hoffman helped lead BYU’s victory offensively, BYU’s defense deserves a lot of credit for holding Utah State to only a field goal.
Defensive linebacker Ezekial “Ziggy” Ansah continued to create a name for himself against the Aggies.
Ansah finished the game with five tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is extremely pleased with how Ansah played throughout the night and that he was a true challenge for Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton.
“I don’t think any team was able to hit Utah State’s quarterback the way we hit him,” Van Noy said. “Ziggy had him all night. He didn’t just hit him, he wrapped him up, swallowed him and dumped him on his head.”
Once again, the Cougar defense was able to stop big plays in the red zone. During the first quarter, Van Noy was able to stop Utah State from scoring on the one-yard line.
Linebacker Preston Hadley credits the defense being able to stop plays in the red zone to the mentality of the team.
“We tell them bring it,” Hadley said. “We practice for those situations and we put our best against their best and you saw the outcome.”
Another outstanding defensive play was during the third quarter when Utah State was on the 30-yard line and was looking ready to make a touchdown.
Utah State wide receiver Cameron Webb threw the ball, and it was intercepted by Hadley on the 2-yard line.
An outstanding achievement by BYU’s defense is to have 13 quarters of playing time in which an offensive touchdown has not been allowed.
Van Noy said he believes BYU was able to accomplish this because of its desire to perform well.
“Touchdowns are not good,” Van Noy said. “We train every day to stop offenses from scoring. We feel our secret is we try harder than other teams.”
Overall, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall was happy with how his team performed and the effort it put into this game.
“Utah State matched us down in and down out the entire game all the way to the end,” Mendenhall said. “I do think, however, our players were very resilient. They performed during some crucial plays up until the very end. It was a fantastic game and an excellent rivalry game. We are lucky, and I’m glad that we won.”
Ashley Anderson is a senior at BYU majoring in public relations with the hope of one day having a career in sports public relations.