BYU football: Drive into wind sends Cougars sailing

Published December 22, 2009 11:20 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Officially, the BYU Cougars just tied the game with a touchdown late in the first quarter Tuesday night.

In reality, they may have won the Las Vegas Bowl right then and there.

By driving 84 yards for a touchdown against a gale-force wind and an aggressive defense, the Cougars permanently altered the game on their way to a 44-20 victory over Oregon State.

The Cougars had netted minus-3 yards on their first two possessions, trailed 7-0 and were losing the field-position battle badly. But they steadied themselves with a 14-play drive that included three third-down conversions and that lasted nearly six minutes, ending with Harvey Unga's 1-yard run.

That touchdown launched a 37-0 run for the Cougars, who dominated OSU on both sides of the ball for much of the night. The drive "changed the momentum of the game," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, "and I never thought Oregon State got it back."

Max Hall got things going with a crisp, 17-yard pass to McKay Jacobson and later found Dennis Pitta for 10 yards and another first down. In between, a defensive-holding penalty on a third-down play near midfield kept the drive alive.

Before the possession, Hall told teammates Andrew George and Pitta, "Let's just go out and do our thing."

That required an adjustment. BYU was assigned to the north end of the stadium during the pregame warmup, so Hall had thrown only with the wind behind him. The Cougars then went into the wind in the first quarter, and Hall "realized I was going to have to fire it in there," he said, relying mostly on short passes.

OSU coach Mike Riley was impressed with Hall's helping BYU convert eight of 14 third-down plays, beginning with that pivotal drive. "The wind did affect us a lot," Riley said. "I thought they handled it better."

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The drive

Key plays on BYU's first-quarter scoring drive into the wind:

» Second-and-3, BYU 23: Max Hall pass to McKay Jacobson for 17 yards.

»Third-and-3, BYU 47: Oregon State defensive holding penalty.

» Third-and-6, OSU 39: Hall pass to Dennis Pitta for 10 yards.

» Third-and-1, OSU 20: Harvey Unga run for 5 yards.

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