Las Cruces, N.M. • It didn’t start out as the crisp, dominating performance — at least on defense — that they were hoping for against one of the worst teams in college football, but the BYU Cougars will take it.
BYU quarterback James Lark, who made his first career start, threw for 384 yards and six touchdowns as the Cougars rolled past New Mexico State 50-14 on Saturday afternoon at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
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Cody Hoffman set a school record with five touchdown receptions for BYU (7-5) and eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for the season with a career-high 182 yards receiving.
Hoffman’s fourth TD catch, which came with 12 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the game, gave the Cougars a 36-14 lead. His fifth, a career-high 64-yarder, made it 43-14 with 9:09 remaining.
Kyle Van Noy led BYU’s defensive effort with three sacks after the Aggies started the game as if they were going to have a lot of success against the No. 3-ranked defense in the country. New Mexico State (1-9) got on the board first with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Manley to Perris Scoggins.
The Cougars answered the TD with a 73-yard drive for a score, a 5-yard touchdown pass from Lark to Hoffman on fourth down. Justin Sorensen missed the PAT, the first missed PAT of his career after 70 straight successful ones. He later missed another PAT in the second half.
BYU took the lead for good, 13-7, after JD Falslev returned a punt 42 yards then caught a 4-yard pass from Lark. Falslev had a career-high nine catches.
The score became 20-7 just before the end of the first half when Hoffman caught his second TD pass of the day, a 2-yarder.
The Cougars moved the ball on their first possession, but Sorensen’s 39-yard field goal attempt was wide left. They were forced to punt on their next two possessions.
New Mexico State got back in the game midway through the third quarter when Kemonte’ Bateman caught a 67-yard touchdown pass to trim BYU’s lead to 23-14. But Lark threw a 31-yard TD pass to Hoffman to give the Cougars some breathing room with 3:34 remaining in the third quarter.
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