Storylines<br>• Starting quarterback Tanner Mangum suffers another leg injury and the Cougars fall to 2-8 with a loss to the 6-3 Bulldogs<br>• BYU out gains FSU 336-310, but misfires in the red zone and commits a costly fumble on its last possession<br>• With three games remaining, the Cougars will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2004
Fresno, Calif. • BYU’s modest winning streak didn’t last on Saturday night, and neither did its starting quarterback.
Tanner Mangum went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in the fourth quarter, and Fresno State held on to down the Cougars 20-13 at Bulldog Stadium.
Mangum was 20 of 33 for 163 yards when he left the game with just over 10 minutes remaining. Sophomore Beau Hoge came on in relief with the Cougars trailing by a touchdown, but could not deliver the win.
“We have to get better,” said a distraught BYU coach Kalani Sitake after addressing his team in the locker room. “This is not BYU football.”
Fresno State improved to 6-3 and became bowl eligible, a season after going 1-11.
Mangum suffered the injury to his right Achilles while he was stepping up to deliver a pass, and was not hit on the play. He had missed two earlier games with a left ankle sprain. He was on crutches leaving the locker room.
“I don’t know the specifics of it, but it doesn’t look good,” Sitake said. “I will get more information from our trainers, but I don’t want to speak until I know what the issues are. It didn’t look good on the field, and it doesn’t look good right now. I feel bad for him. … It was pretty bad.”
Hoge, who had briefly spelled Mangum in the first half when the starter limped off the field before halftime, drove the Cougars to the Fresno State 27 with under six minutes remaining.
However, his fourth-down pass was deflected by Fresno State’s George Helmuth and fell incomplete.
The Cougars got the ball back with 3:21 remaining at their own 5, but tight end Matt Bushman fumbled after his ninth catch and Fresno State recovered, then ran out the clock.
“It was very disappointing. We are just not playing good football right now, and that’s my fault. I am really disappointed in it, and there’s not much else to say about it other than we scored 13 points and couldn’t stop them on crucial downs, especially when we were trying to get the ball back,” Sitake said. “Just congratulations to Fresno. They did everything they wanted and they wanted it more. This puts them in bowl eligibility, and it wasn’t good for us.”
The Cougars (2-8) will be home for the holidays for the first time since 2004, coach Gary Crowton’s final season.
“Our players played hard. It just didn’t go our way and we left some great opportunities out there, and some big plays,” Sitake said. “But yeah, I will have to look at the film. I am really disappointed, and I am getting sick of saying that all the time.”
The Cougars had 336 yards of offense, but misfired several times in the red zone in the first half and settled for field goals. Fresno State had 310 yards, about 100 less than its average, but did not commit a turnover.
“It wasn’t good enough,” Sitake said of BYU’s defense, which gave up several big passing plays.
The Bulldogs took a 13-6 lead on their third field goal with 10:07 remaining in the third quarter, but the Cougars promptly drove 75 yards in 11 plays to tie it at 13 with 4:28 left in the third.
A 14-play, 88-yard drive that took 6:42 off the clock gave Fresno State a 20-13 lead with 12:40 remaining. Jordan Mims’ 2-yard TD plunge, his second touchdown of the night, capped the drive that was set up by Da’Mari Scott’s 35-yard reception.
Mangum went down on the fifth play of the following possession, and Hoge was 3 of 10 for 51 yards in relief. On the penalties that killed drives or prolonged Fresno State drives, Sitake said: “That’s just crap. It is way too late in the season for those … That’s on us coaches.”
BYU had 202 offensive yards in the first half, but had to settle for a pair of Rhett Almond field goals, and trailed 10-6 at the break. Almond’s second field goal, from 46 yards, barely cleared the crossbar and was a career-high.
Hoge replaced Mangum on the Cougars’ final drive of the first half and drove the team into field goal range. Jonah Trinnaman, Beau Tanner and Aleva Hifo dropped catchable passes on the drive, including a Trinnaman drop near the goal line.
Fresno State scored on its first two possessions, getting a 43-yard field goal by Jimmy Camacho and a 2-yard run by Mims, to take a quick 10-0 lead. It was forced to punt on its next two possessions, as BYU’s defense held the home team to 10 plays and 38 yards in the second quarter.
“It seemed like we had some bad things happen all at the wrong times, whether it was dropped passes or mis-timed throws,” Sitake said. “There were so many issues that need fixing. That’s on the whole team.”
The Cougars return to action Friday at UNLV.