PROVO — BYU’s rush offense featured more than three options Monday night against Navy.
The Cougars probably only needed two.
Tyler Allgeier ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and fellow running back Lopini Katoa totaled 112 all-purpose yards with three touchdowns to help the Cougars blow by the Midshipmen 55-3 Monday night in front of an empty Navy-Marine Corps. Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.
Jackson McChesney added 56 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars, who posted 580 yards of offense — the most yardage since a 51-9 win at UMass last season.
“I have a biased opinion, but I feel like if you can get the running game going, then everything else opens up,” said Katoa, who ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns. “The lanes the O-line opened for us made us run through anybody. Big credit to the O-line.”
The American Fork product gave credit to the offensive line of Brady Christensen, Clark Barrington, James Empey, Tristen Hoge and Chandon Herring for the lanes and the routes, and for making things “easy” for the BYU backfield.
But then he also stopped and admired the work of Allgeier, who burst on the scene at running back during the Cougars’ win over Western Michigan in the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — then took a step toward linebacker for much of the past season.
It’s safe to assume Allgeier has found himself squarely in the running back camp.
“I always knew what Tyler could do,” Katoa said. “To be able to run with him is great.”
Zach Wilson completed 13 of 18 passes for 232 yards, two touchdowns and an interception — in just 2½ quarters. The junior Corner Canyon product made way for backup Baylor Romney with 6:15 left in the third quarter and a 45-0 advantage.
Gunner Romney hauled in four catches for 134 yards and a touchdown, scoring on a 45-yard breakaway with 13:05 on the clock in the third quarter.
Again, it all started with the offensive line, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said.
“They’ve been doing that all camp,” Sitake said. “We’re a little concerned because when we started doing our live work, they took it to our defense. That was a little shocking … and the defense had to respond. You had a great battle of physical football on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”
COUGARS STRIKE FIRST ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/njFw0wDfsu— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 8, 2020
BYU nose tackle Khyiris Tonga slightly disputed his coach’s praise of the offensive line — “I don’t know about ‘kicking our butts’,” he joked — but added plenty of his own praise to the 300-pound scale-tippers.
“They always gave us great looks, and especially our Scout O and Scout D this week,” Tonga said. “They gave us nothing but great looks.”
On the other side of the field, the 52-point loss is the worst suffered by Navy under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, who took full responsibility for the Monday night rickrolling in Annapolis.
“The game was 1,000% my fault. Looked like that was our first live game,” Niumatalolo said. “The first live stuff is usually against yourselves. That’s the worst Navy game we’ve ever played.
“That’s my fault. I chose to block bags and tackle donuts. All my fault.”
The physicality made manifest in fall camp, where BYU earned as much as an extra week of practice by not pausing practices due to the coronavirus pandemic, paid off in the end. The Cougars (1-0) were prepared for a physical Navy defense and executed a comprehensive game plan better en route to their largest margin of victory over an FBS opponent since a 52-0 win at Wyoming in 2009.
“It kind of came full circle, with all the work we’ve put in this offseason,” BYU offensive lineman Tristen Hoge said. “I’m proud of every one of these guys. They didn’t back down an inch.”
Navy transfer Pepe Tanuvasa had a team-high eight tackles, including four solo stops and a quarterback hurry for the Cougars, who will face a second-straight option-based team and another service academy, Army, in two weeks.
Navy didn’t reach 100 yards of offense until the middle of the third quarter, at which point BYU had amassed more than 400 yards split evenly on the ground and through the air. The Midshipmen (0-1) were held scoreless until Bijan Nichols’ 48-yard field goal with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
Isaiah Kaufusi added five tackles and two tackles for loss playing the “rover” linebacker for BYU, and Morgan Pyper recovered one of two fumbles forced on the day.
“Our defensive depth chart, you guys scoffed at it because there are 15 guys on it,” Sitake tol the media after the game. “But we’re going to utilize a lot of different schemes and sets. We’re going to have to change it against Army.
“We have safeties who can play backer, backers who can play D-end, Khyiris wants to play D-end but he’s good where he’s at,” he added. “All those guys did a great job; man, they were so physical … I can’t wait to watch this film and I can’t wait to build off this.”
10:07 — BYU: Tyler Allgeier 34 touchdown (Oldroyd kick)
07:16 — BYU: Lopini Katoa 39 touchown (Oldroyd kick)
13:31 — BYU: Katoa 15 pass from Zach Wilson (Oldroyd kick)
05:00 — BYU: Jake Oldroyd 22 field goal
00:08 — BYU: Katoa 1 touchdown (Oldroyd kick)
13:05 — BYU: Gunner Romney 45 pass from Wilson (Oldroyd kick)
07:10 — BYU: Allgeier 17 touchdown (Oldroyd kick)
03:09 — BYU: Oldroyd 34 field goal
00:54 — NAVY: Bijan Nichols 48 field goal
07:26 — BYU: Jackson McChesney 9 touchdown (Oldroyd kick)
Final: BYU 55, Navy 3