Boise State hands No. 10 BYU first loss of season

The Cougars fall to 5-1 after 26-17 loss to Broncos, their first defeat at home since 2019.

Provo • Maybe it had been too good to be true. Maybe it was just bound to happen. But, whatever the reason, No. 10 BYU got a taste of its own medicine on Saturday when it hosted Boise State in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

The Cougars were victims of turnovers and lost the battle in the trenches as the Broncos picked apart BYU for a come-from-behind win, 26-17.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Keanu Hill (1) fails to pull in the pass battling Boise State Broncos safety Tyreque Jones (21) No. 10 Brigham Young University hosts Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Oct. 9, 2021.

The loss snapped BYU’s seven-game win streak that started at the end of last season and tarnished the Cougars’ 2021 record, now 5-1. It was also the first home loss since Sept. 21, 2019 (Washington, 45-19).

“Saw a lot of mistakes,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “And against a good team, it’s hard to overcome those mistakes. And it’s not just on one side, there’s a lot of mistakes — they can go around. I have to do a better job as a coach, getting guys ready for this game and minimizing the mistakes.”

To be fair, it didn’t start bad for BYU.

The Cougars actually had a strong first quarter and jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Jaren Hall, who was back as BYU’s starting quarterback, showed no sign of sitting out the last two games with a rib injury as he started off hot and fast.

By the end of the first quarter, Hall had thrown for 100 yards and one score while completing 7 of 9 passes.

But then the rain rolled in, and the Cougars started to fall apart.

Through the gloomy and wet conditions, BYU committed two turnovers that Boise State was able to convert into a field goal and touchdown.

The Cougars had no answer.

“Any time it rains, you tend to run the ball a little more, depending on how the ball’s feeling,” Hall said. “The run game’s always been great for us, so we began to run the ball, and that was really part of our offense anyways. I wouldn’t say [the rain] had much affect, because both teams had to play in it. [Boise State] just handled it better than we did.”

One of BYU’s best chances to try to regain momentum came in the fourth quarter. The Cougars advanced all the way to the Boise State 3-yard line, only to be stopped and pushed back to end the drive on a turnover on downs. It was BYU’s fifth consecutive unsuccessful drive.

But the Cougars never gave up.

On BYU’s next drive, Hall opened up with a 59-yard reception by Gunner Romney to set up the Cougars’ first scoring drive since the first quarter, and make it a one-score game halfway through the fourth quarter.

What really hurt BYU was its inability to establish the run. The Cougars finished with 111 rushing yards against a team that came in ranked 108th out of 130 in run defense.

A week after putting up a 200-yard rushing performance at Utah State, BYU’s top rusher, Tyler Allgeier, was held to 73 yards.

Boise State, which came in averaging 303.8 passing yards and just 74.6 rushing yards per game, played a more balanced approach this time around. When the rain looked to be a problem, the Broncos stuck to a successful run game.

At the end of the day, Boise State finished the game with 172 passing yards and 140 rushing yards. The Broncos took care of the ball, while getting more first downs and third-down conversions than the Cougars.

Boise State went on to add a 22-yard field goal with 3:27 left in the game, assuring the Cougars needed more than a touchdown — even with a two-point conversion — to tie the game.

To add to the sting, the Broncos forced another BYU turnover with an interception to seal the game.

“They executed in a good way,” linebacker Ben Bywater said. “It’s hard to beat a team when you shoot yourself in the foot with turnovers and penalties. But hats off to them. They played a great game and we respect them.”