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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Live Blog: BYU downs UConn, wins its season-opener

It wasn't pretty -- especially in the second half -- but it was effective.

The Cougars built up a big lead and held off the UConn Huskies on Friday night at Rentschler Field.



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Taysom Hill's 26-yard TD run with 4:06 remaining gave BYU a 35-10 lead and fans scurried to the exits -- those that were left.

No scoring in third

Both teams blew scoring opportunities to start the third quarter.

UConn drove into BYU territory, but a fake field goal try on 4th-and-16 was snuffed out by BYU.

The Cougars then drove 68 yards to the UConn 15, but two passes fell incomplete in the end zone and Paul Lasike went nowhere after a short catch.

Trevor Samson came on to try his first-ever FG as a Cougar, but his 33-yarded was a bit wide left.

Generally, BYU’s kicking game was suspect on Friday night.

Samson couldn’t get his kickoffs into the end zone, resulting in some good field position for the Huskies. Then he missed the chip-shot field goal attempt.

The Cougars were driving at the end of the quarter, but Algernon Brown fumbled the ball away near midfield, BYU's second turnover.

Hill Shining

Taysom Hill is answering his naysayers at Rentschler Field.

The BYU quarterback played nearly flawlessly in the first half, and BYU leads UConn 28-7 at the break in East Hartford, Conn.

Hill completed 17 of 20 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.

The Cougars out gained the Huskies 329-158 in the first two quarters.

UConn got back into the game with a six-play, 52-yard touchdown drive toward the end of the half, but Hill and the Cougars answered with a five-play, 69-yard drive. Hill threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Terenn Houk.

UConn scored after BYU’s only turnover of the half, a fumble by Mitch Mathews after the junior caught a pass and picked up an apparent first down.

The Cougar defense has played well, for the most part. It missed a few tackles on UConn’s TD drive, but forced two turnovers.

BYU 21, UConn 0

The Cougars punted twice after taking the 14-0 lead, then got it together offensive (and cut down on the penalties) midway through the second quarter.

They drove 46 yards after a long punt return, and capped it off with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Adam Hine on a well-designed pla

y that fooled the Huskies.

For a walk-on, Mitchell Juergens is making quite a debut for the Cougars.

The freshman from Houston is BYU’s primary punt returner, and he had a long punt return in the second quarter. He also caught a 43-yard pass from Taysom Hill, but it was nullified by a personal foul on Brock Stringham.

Juergens’ name wasn’t mentioned much in fall camp — Jordan Leslie and Keanu Nelson were said to be the guys at punt returner — but he has been the man so far.

End First: BYU 14, UConn 0

After the Cougars took a 14-0 lead, the game turned into a penalty-fest.

UConn started to gouge the Cougar defense with some long runs and a screen pass, but Craig Bills picked off Casey Cochran to end the threat.

BYU started on its 10 and caught a break when Taysom Hill’s 6-yard run appeared to be a yard short on third down. UConn was called for a hands-to-the-face penalty, keeping the drive alive.

But more yellow flags ensued — the Cougars were flagged for two straight holding penalties (Koroma and Stringham), and on the second holding call Terenn Houk was flagged for a late hit.

Aside from penalties and the inability to get kickoffs inside the 10, BYU played well in the first quarter.

Hill still tucks the ball and runs way too quickly, but he picks up chunks generally, so there hasn’t been a reason for him to stop.

BYU takes 14-0 lead

The 2014 season couldn’t have gotten to a better start for the BYU offense.

The Cougars drove 75 yards in 15 plays for a touchdown on their opening possession. Taysom Hill ran in from the 7 for the score and Trevor Samson booted the PAT.

The key play was an 11-yard pass from Hill to Mitch Mathews on third-and-8.

Moments later, UConn fumbled its first play, and Bronson Kaufusi recovered. Skye PoVey forced the fumble.

Hill then threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Mathews and Samson's kick made it 14-0.

The starting offensive line for BYU was Ului Lapuaho (LT), Kyle Johnson (LG), Tejan Koroma (C), Brock Stringham (RG) and De’Ondre Wesley (RT).

Converted receiver Michael Davis and redshirt freshman Jordan Preator were the starting corners, while in a late-change, Jherremya Leuta-Douyere got the start at inside linebacker with Zac Stout. Manoa Pikula was listed as the starter, instead of JLD.

Pregame Post:

BYU’s defense will bear little resemblance to its depth chart released Monday when the Cougars take the field tonight against UConn.

Senior Skye PoVey, who was listed behind sophomore Dallin Leavitt at safety on the two-deep, will get the start tonight. He will run alongside senior Craig Bills, but look for Leavitt and Nebraska transfer Harvey Jackson to play a lot if the Cougars go to their nickel package.

As mentioned previously, projected starting corners Robertson Daniel and Jordan Johnson didn’t make the trip to East Hartford.

The starting corners will be Michael Davis and Jordan Preator.

There will be a lot of blue on the field tonight at UConn’s Rentschler Field.

Uconn will be decked out in all blue — blue pants, blue jerseys, blue helmets.

The Cougars, who have worn all-white uniforms on the road more often than not, will wear blue pants and white jersey tops.

BYU took the field first for warmups an hour or so before kickoff.

UConn officials warned that it would be a late arriving crowd, and they were right. A 7 p.m. (local) kickoff on the Friday night of Labor Day Weekend is a recipe for traffic snarls, they said.

Eight months after playing miserably (on special teams, at least) in a 31-16 Fight Hunger Bowl loss to Washington in San Francisco, the BYU Cougars are back on the football field tonight on the other side of the country.

They’s still playing a team called the Huskies, however.

BYU faces UConn at 5 p.m. MDT at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, and the game will be televised live by ESPN.

Last year’s opener against Virginia was marred by rain and lightning storms that halted the game down in Charlottesville, but weather shouldn’t be a factor tonight.

Winds are calm, and temperatures are in the high 70s. There were a few clouds in the sky two hours before kickoff, but nothing threatening.

The Cougars will be a bit shorthanded tonight. Projected starting corners Robertson Daniel and Jordan Johnson did not make the trip, due to suspension.

For weeks, it has been known that BYU will be without star running back Jamaal Williams, juco transfer receiver Devon Blackmon, and projected starting NT Marques Johnson.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Preator and sophomore Michael Davis, a converted receiver, will start at the cornerback positions.

I will be updating this post throughout the game, so check back early and often for updates and analysis.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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