Provo • BYU’s second-leading rusher, Jamaal Williams, did not play in Friday night’s game against Middle Tennessee State.
It didn’t matter.
Quarterback Taysom Hill scored two touchdowns, senior Mike Alisa ran for two more and the Cougars overcame five turnovers during a 37-10 win over the Blue Raiders.
Williams, a sophomore from Fontana, Calif., carried 76 times for 378 yards during BYU’s first three games.
In last week’s 20-13 loss to Utah, however, Williams suffered a concussion and severe stinger. He was carried off the field and spent the night at Utah Valley Medical Center.
Williams’ status for the game against Middle Tennessee was uncertain during the week, but he did not dress against the Blue Raiders.
“We certainly missed Jamaal,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “Not only the explosive nature of his runs but ball security, too.”
With Williams sidelined, the top three running backs on the Cougars’ depth chart were junior Paul Lasike, sophomore Adam Hine and Alisa.
With BYU already thin at the position, things got worse in the first quarter when Hine was injured while trying to bock on a kickoff return. He suffered a concussion and did not return, leaving the primary running back duties to Lasike, Alisa and freshman Algernon Brown.
“Adam was [knocked] out for about two minutes,” Mendenhall said. “But his return to function has been very fast, according to the trainers. I can’t really say anything more than that.”
Lasike finished with only 27 yards on seven carries, but Alisa took advantage of the opportunity to produce his best game of the season. He ran 16 times for 55 yards after gaining 44 yards in the opening three games against Virginia, Texas and Utah.
In the first half, Alisa had one of three BYU turnovers. He fumbled the ball away inside the Middle Tennessee 5-yard line.
On the Cougars’ final drive of the second quarter, however, Alisa made amends by running 2 yards for a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining to make it 23-10.
The Cougars took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched for another score.
Alisa kept the drive alive when he gained 5 yards on fourth-and-4 at the Middle Tennessee 27-yard line. Four plays later, Alisa scored from the two, giving the Cougars a 30-10 lead.
In his first extensive playing time of the season, the newcomer from Skyline High School in Salt Lake City rushed for 68 yards on 11 carries. He gained 63 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
A closer look
Mike Alisa’s game-by-game rushing totals this season:
Opp. Att. Yards Avg. TDs Long
Virginia 2 9 4.5 0 8
Texas 8 23 2.9 0 4
Utah 6 12 2.0 1 6
Middle Tenn. 16 55 3.4 2 7