SALT LAKE CITY — Even without leading rusher Sione Finau, who is out for the season, and with the starters playing for barely one half, BYU football didn't let up or let down in its penultimate game of the season.
Jackson McChesney ran for 228 yards and his first two career touchdowns, Tyler Allgeier added 94 all-purpose yards and a score, and Lopini Katoa had 72 yards and two scores to lead BYU to a rout of Massachusetts, 56-24 Saturday afternoon in Amherst, Massachusetts.
"The lines were opening the holes, guys like Masen Wake were throwing their bodies around," McChesney told reporters after the game. "Coaches told me I had to make someone miss, or someone else would come in and score. That was the mentality for the whole group."
McChesney pulled up with an apparent ankle injury during an injury-plagued day in Amherst, but returned to the game to lead BYU (7-5) in a historic day.
The Lone Peak product set a BYU freshman record for single-game rushing yardage with his 228, a mark that ranks sixth-most in school history.
Allgeier, who moved back to running back from linebacker after an injury to Finau, took a screen pass from quarterback Zach Wilson and rumbled 57 yards for a touchdown to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
By the end of the half, the Cougars had added touchdowns from Katoa (twice), McChesney, Talon Shumway, Gunner Romney and Aleva Hifo for a 49-0 lead. The Cougars’ 42 points in the second quarter were the most points in a single quarter against an FBS opponent since a 59-0 win over UCLA back in 2008.
"I'm proud of our effort in the first half," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. "Obviously, I'm not happy with some of the things that happened in the second half. But we can learn from that."
Shumway caught four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown to lead all BYU receivers.
BYU poured in close to 400 yards of offense in the first half, including 150 yards on the ground spread out primarily between McChesney, Allgeier and Katoa. By halftime, Wilson’s day was done.
Wilson completed 17-of-20 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns in the first half for BYU. If last week's 42-10 win over FCS Idaho State could be described as "rusty," Saturday's showing shook off a lot of that rust for Wilson — just in time to face former Mountain West rival San Diego State in the regular-season finale.
Of course, the Cougars were just focused on the Minutemen (1-11), they claimed all week and even after the game.
"That was a huge focus all week; no offense to these guys, but we need to play well in games that we should win," Wilson said. "We can’t play down to anyone's level.
"That was the focus — playing against ourselves this week, and we’ve got to battle."
Joe Critchlow started the first series of the second half for the Cougars, but the backup quarterback didn’t have to do much in his second game of the season.
That’s because McChesney got plenty of run and fared plenty well for the Cougars against one of the worst defenses in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Dayan Ghanwoloku led BYU’s defense with five tackles, including a tackle for loss. Jackson Kaufusi, Keenan Pili and Ben Bywater each added five tackles, and Max Tooley, Isaiah Kaufusi and Atunaisa Mahe added four tackles apiece.
"We just knew going into practice that we were going to treat this game like any other game," said defensive end JJ Nwigwe, a converted offensive lineman and tight end who caught his first career interception. "We knew it was senior night, and they would come out with a chip on their shoulders.
"As soon as kickoff happened, we knew we had to bring it."