Provo • After allowing 46 points in a near-loss at Houston last week, BYU got a little defensive Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Cougar defense forced four turnovers, including three on consecutive possessions in the second half, during an impressive 37-20 victory over Boise State.
BYU won its fifth straight game, improved to 6-2 for the season and put its defensive debacle against Houston in the rear-view mirror.
“I really feel good about the way the team prepared after last week,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Boise State finished with 499 yards against BYU, but the Broncos managed only 37 in the first quarter and failed to convert three times on fourth down.
In the last two years against Boise, the Cougars have held eight of 10 times when the Broncos have gone for it on fourth down.
“There is an emphasis we place on it,” Mendenhall said, “and our players … find a way to make it happen.”
BYU’s ability to recover three fumbles and intercept one pass, however, helped the Cougars maintain control from the start.
“I told [Boise coach] Chris [Petersen] that I thought that was one of the main differences in the game,” Mendenhall said. “Being able to take the football away was huge.”
The biggest turnover was a Kyle Van Noy fumble recovery late in the third quarter, just when it looked like Boise State was trying to get back in the game.
After a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Grant Hedrick made it 31-13, the Bronco defense forced the Cougars to punt.
Boise State took over at its own 20-yard line and, on first down, Hedrick completed a pass to Geraldo Boldewijn. As he was struggling for additional yardage, however, Boldewijn fumbled. Van Noy jumped on the ball. Although BYU couldn’t reach the end zone, Justin Sorensen kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 34-13 and slow Boise State’s game-long search for momentum.
The Broncos turned the ball over on their next two possessions, too.
First, BYU’s Skye Povey intercepted Hedrick’s pass moments after Sorensen’s field goal.
Then, defensive lineman Remington Peck made his second fumble recovery of the game to give BYU the football with a 21-point lead and only 13:37 remaining.
“We created enough turnovers … to beat a team that hasn’t lost in October since 2001,” Mendenhall said.
With 4:43 left in the game, BYU’s defense held the Broncos on fourth-and-1 from the Cougar 41.
“Those [stops] are huge in terms of emotional momentum,” Mendenhall said.