Provo • It took an Idahoan’s masterful quarterbacking performance and a series of uncharacteristic miscues by the visitors, but the state of Utah’s long nightmare against the Boise State Broncos ended Friday on a crisp autumn night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Emphatically, for the most part.
Quarterback Taysom Hill, of Pocatello, Idaho, accounted for 408 yards, and BYU rolled past Boise State 37-20 in front of 62,924 fans, snapping the Cougars’ three-game losing streak to the Broncos.
It was the first time a team from Utah has defeated Boise State in the last 22 tries, and it was the first time Boise State (5-3) has lost a game in October since 2001, snapping a 50-game winning streak in this month.
“That was a really big win for our program,” Hill said.
Essentially, BYU won the game in the first half when it took a 24-3 lead and knifed through Boise State’s defense as if it wasn’t there — after pretty much getting stonewalled in Boise last year in a 7-6 loss.
“That was as dominant a first half of football that we’ve played, against a quality opponent, since I have been the coach,” said Bronco Mendenhall. “That was strong football.”
The Cougars have a bye next week before traveling to Wisconsin for a Nov. 9 showdown with Gary Andersen and the Badgers, and they need the time off. Starting strong safety Daniel Sorensen suffered a concussion in the second quarter, and starting boundary corner Mike Hague left the game with a shoulder injury in the second half.
Mendenhall did not have an update on their conditions in his postgame press conference.
BYU’s opportunistic defense gave up 499 yards, but forced four turnovers — including three BSU fumbles — and kept the Broncos out of the end zone until 3 minutes and 44 seconds remained in the third quarter.
There were a few anxious moments for the Cougars after backup quarterback Grant Hedrick’s 5-yard touchdown trimmed the lead to 31-13, partly because they squandered some excellent field position and had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, but the clock finally struck midnight on BSU’s stranglehold.
“We got a little conservative in our play-calling,” Hill said.
The sophomore finished 27-for-41 for 339 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed 18 times for 69 yards, that after accounting for 545 total yards in last week’s 47-46 win at Houston.
Nine different receivers caught passes, and even the tight ends got into the act after being mostly AWOL through the first seven games.
Ball distribution like that “is when we become really formidable,” Mendenhall said.
Justin Sorensen’s 41-yard field goal with 7:09 remaining gave the Cougars a three-score lead, 37-20, and sealed the victory. After the game, BYU (6-2) accepted an invitation to play in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Francisco.
“I feel like we’ve gotten better every week,” Hill said, deflecting praise after another brilliant outing. “It’s been a team thing.
Senior receiver Cody Hoffman became the school’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 31 after catching a 4-yard pass from Hill at the end of the first half to give the Cougars the 18-point lead at the break.
“It feels great. It feels amazing,” Hoffman said. “The offense is just playing phenomenal right now.”
Hill picked it up again quickly in the third quarter, throwing a 40-yard touchdown strike to Mitch Mathews to give the Cougars a 31-6 lead. His other TD throw went to Ross Apo—his third TD catch in two games.
The Cougars racked up 376 yards in the first half, with Hill accounting for 306 of those, 253 passing and 53 rushing. In the past three first halves, BYU has put up 359 (Georgia Tech), 379 (Houston) and 376 yards.
Boise State had 202 total yards at halftime and finished with 499 — to BYU’s 568 — but couldn’t overcome the turnovers. And the Broncos were stopped several times on fourth down, finishing 2-for-5 in that category.
“I thought that [Boise’s turnovers] was one of the main differences in the game,” Mendenhall said.
O In short • Taysom Hill accounts for 408 yards as BYU beats Boise for the first time in 4 tries.
Key moment • Cody Hoffman’s 4-yard TD catch breaks BYU’s record for career TD catches (31) and gives the Cougars a 24-3 halftime lead.
Key stat • BYU forces four turnovers and commits none.