BYU’s defense corrals Broncos in Potato Bowl rout

(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Western Michigan Broncos quarterback Kaleb Eleby (9) is sacked by Brigham Young Cougars defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea (55) as BYU faces the Western Michigan Broncos in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018.

Boise, Idaho • As BYU’s offense got so much postgame praise for its performance in the Famous Idaho Potato

(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) throws the ball as BYU warms up before facing the Western Michigan Broncos in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018.

Bowl, a 49-18 win, the defense could take its share of credit, as well.

The Cougars’ D, led by senior linebacker Sione Takitaki, who collected 19 tackles, a career high, was stellar, effectively shutting down Western Michigan’s offense, particularly as the game wore on.

“I wanted to go out there and leave it,” Takitaki said.

He did.

He left WMU’s offense in a mess.

“Credit to all the guys,” he said. “They were taking up blocks and going sideline to sideline. Give those guys credit, taking on two guys, and I’m just running free.”

All told, the Broncos gained 313 yards, and could manage only 10 points before the contest was put out of reach, also adding a late touchdown that mattered not at all. By then, BYU was ahead by 32 points. Game over.

Other significant contributions were offered by guys like Austin Lee, who intercepted a pass in the third quarter and returned it 26 yards, setting up one of six second-half touchdowns for the Cougars. Lorenzo Fauatea, who had been moved from defensive end to linebacker, got one-and-half sacks. Dayan Ghanwoloku, who normally plays safety, played cornerback over long stretches, collecting three tackles. In a strange twist, he was also inserted on offense, scoring a touchdown as a running back.

Khyiris Tonga had a big stop on a big WMU third-and-1 play, snuffing it, causing a 2-yard loss, forcing a punt. He also anchored the defensive front and shared a sack.

Late in the game, the Broncos’ offense got more and more desperate, resorting to throwing the ball, and mostly struggled. Freshman WMU quarterback Kaleb Eleby did pass for 175 yards, but overall, the WMU offense could muster few scoring threats.

“They have a great defense,” Western Michigan coach Tim Lester said. “Up front, they were really good. We knew that, coming in.”

Return to Story