BYU snaps bowl losing streak with defense; Cougars honor Elsie Mahe, Hayes Tate

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

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SAN DIEGO — Jamaal Williams ran for 210 yards and a touchdown to help BYU football snap a three-year postseason losing streak with a 24-21 win over Wyoming on Wednesday night in the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.

“To compete in the Poinsettia Bowl is an accomplishment,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “The win is for the players and the fans. Being able to help these young men achieve their goals and facilitate their goals off the field, I’m just happy to be a part of it.

“I’m happy, but they are the ones who are dirty.”

Here are three quick thoughts on Sitake’s first postseason appearance as a head coach.

Defense, and/or weather, holds down Pokes

Whether it was the massive rainstorm that descended on Qualcomm Stadium just prior to kickoff, or BYU’s defensive effort, the Cowboys were held scoreless in the first half for the first time all season.

Wyoming became the second-ever team to be held scoreless in a first half in Poinsettia Bowl history, and the first since Northern Illinois was shut out in a 37-7 loss to TCU in the 2006 bowl game.

BYU held Wyoming to just 104 rushing yards through three periods, including 64 from all-Mountain West running back Brian Hill, who missed the first quarter for suspension. The defensive thrust featured two tackles for loss and Dayan Lake’s interception to wind down the third quarter.

The Cougars finished with two tackles for loss and two picks, including Nacua’s game-sealing interception in the waning moments of the game.

Even with Jamaal Williams’ career bowl record-setting performance of 210 yards and a touchdown, the Cougars needed one final defensive stop after Wyoming receiver Tanner Gentry scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to cut the lead to three with 2:11 left in the game.

“That’s the game. Those guys are physical, and we knew that we would see that,” Sitake said. “We had our opportunities, and they converted their chances and hurt us.

“I think that’s what a good idea of what Wyoming football is about, and I give them a lot of credit.”

Suspended Cougars

Sitake announced a host of BYU suspensions for the bowl game, not the least of which was outside linebacker Francis Bernard.

The sophomore from Herriman High was out for internal team reasons (non-injury related), and was replaced at outside linebacker by Harvey Langi. The versatile former Bingham High standout was thus listed on the BYU depth chart at middle linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end and fullback.

It didn’t matter one way or the other to Langi, though.

“Everyone always comes up and asks me what my favorite position is,” said Langi, who had 13 tackles en route to defensive MVP honors. “I just like to play football. If I’m going to play football at place holder, or kicker, or defensive end, linebacker or running back, I’m happy because I get to play football.”

#ForElsie and #HayesTough

BYU took to the field for its postseason game with a patch that came together as a tribute to Elsie Mahe, the 3-year-old daughter of running backs coach Reno Mahe, and Hayes Tate, the infant son of former Utah safety Steve Tate, who both passed away last month.

> We love you Elsie and Hayes! []( > > — Jasen (@Jasen\_AhYou) [December 22, 2016](

The little Mahe girl died following complications from an accident in the family’s Lehi-area home, while the Tate triplet died after battling cancer for his young life.

The Mahe family also carried out a special pink flag with the name “Elsie” printed on the bottom.

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