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The BYU Cougars had a convincing win against Georgia Tech as they beat the Yellow Jackets 41-17.
While there were many positive plays and accomplishments throughout the game, the play that changed the momentum of the game was when Kyle Van Noy blocked a punt.
With 7:15 left in the second quarter, BYU led 14-7. BYU’s defense had held Georgia Tech to a three-and-out and the Yellow Jackets were ready to punt the ball from their own 21.
However, Kyle Van Noy was in his zone and blocked the punt, recovered it and ran it to the Georgia Tech 13-yard line.
This crucial play ignited the team’s energy and set up a touchdown run from freshman Jamaal Williams and helped the Cougars take a 21-7 lead.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall believes this play affected the outcome of the game.
“Coach Howell has Kyle in the critical spots,” Mendenhall said. “He blocked it with one hand and changed the game. That’s who he is — he’s a good player.”
Van Noy said this play is something he has been working on all season.
“The whole year it was just keep trying,” Van Noy said. “Finally we were fighting the pressure and I happened to get my hands on it.”
Another bright point in the game was when BYU’s Daniel Sorenson caught an interception during the third quarter.
Sorenson intercepted the ball on the Georgia Tech 28-yard line and returned 26 yard to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Williams completed another touchdown to give BYU a 31-14 lead.
Sorenson credits his catch to luck and did not know how close to the end zone he was.
“I happened to be in the right place at the right time and caught it,” Sorenson said. “I didn’t know where I was and I just ran straight.”
With these two plays, BYU won the turnover battle and many players credit the win to this.
Receiver JD Falslev knows that BYU is a strong team when they win this battle.
“Our defense did a great job to get them off the field and give us the ball,” Falslev said. “We know if we are winning the turnover battle, we are a hard team to beat.”
The star for BYU’s offense was 17-year old freshman Jamaal Williams. Williams completed the game with 107 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 54 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.
Williams said he was happy with his performance and grateful for the opportunities he was given.
“I love working hard and I love the challenge,” Williams said. “I am grateful for getting the ball. This is my first time getting four touchdowns and I am really happy.”
BYU quarterback Riley Nelson is not surprised with how William played this game and progressed throughout the season.
“Ever since fall camp, I noticed how patient and natural of a runner he was,” Nelson said. “I knew it was only a matter of time before he picked up our offense. I am proud to call him my teammate and my brother.”
Falslev also had a stellar game with 182 all-purpose yards with a career high of 129 kick return yards.
He acknowledged the rest of the team helped him be able to gain these yards.
“Anytime I have an opportunity to help our team out I am going to do everything I can do,” Falslev said. “The 10 guys who were blocking did a wonderful job. I just took off and ran.”
BYU’s defense also had an outstanding showing in holding Georgia Tech to only 117 rushing yards when it had been averaging 340 yards per game.
Sorenson knew the Georgia Tech offense would provide a battle for the team but was ready to rise to the challenge.
“We knew they rushed the ball and it would be a grind and a fight out there,” Sorenson said. “It was fun and I am happy with the way we handled that. We love when teams run the ball and come after us.”
Van Noy says the team focused on Georgia Tech’s rushing this week in practice and it helped create the outcome.
“They were averaging 340 yards on the ground,” Van Noy said. “That was the biggest thing we focused on. I was trying to contain their wing guys and quarterback. I think we did a wonderful job.”
Mendenhall says the team worked hard to hold Georgia Tech’s offense and is proud of how the defense performed.
“We worked overtime this week,” Mendenhall said. “Georgia Tech has our respect in how well they move the ball and give our players credit. They just performed well and I am not sure if I have ever been more proud.”
Overall, this was a solid performance by BYU and Mendenhall thinks the team played well on all levels and is eager to see how the rest of the season plays out.
“Offensively we made significant strides,” Mendenhall said. “I thought Riley made excellent decisions and Jamaal ran the ball effectively. Defensively I think our players executed really, really well against a unique scheme and gave up three points. I am anxious to ride with this team down the stretch and see how good we get.”
Ashley Anderson is a senior at BYU majoring in public relations with the hope of one day having a career in sports public relations.