No. 13 BYU makes up for Neil Pau’u’s absence with a balanced passing attack against Georgia Southern

Allgeier runs for more than 100 yards again and is still tied for the most rushing touchdowns in the country.

(Paul Abell | AP) BYU wide receiver Puka Nacua, top, scores a touchdown against Georgia Southern safety Anthony Wilson in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Statesboro, Ga.

The BYU football team had some issues stopping Georgia Southern’s run game in the first half of its 34-17 road win.

But the Cougars, who are now No. 13 in the Associated Press Top 25, made some adjustments in the second half and were able to fix their issues on the defensive end, shutting out the Eagles for the rest of Saturday’s game. They also walked away from Statesboro pleased with a balanced effort from their wideouts — even with receiver Neil Pau’u sidelined by injury.

Gunner Romney, Puka Nacka, Samson Nacua and Keanu Hill combined for 303 receiving yards, an average of 75.8 per player. Romney had 87 with five catches, Puka Nacua had 83 with five, Samson Nacua had 68 with three, and Hill had 65 with two catches.

Puka Nacua said Georgia Southern did a good job of contesting passes in the first half. But the halftime adjustments bore fruit, especially with those explosive plays the receivers are used to making.

“Once we got one, it was back like we didn’t even miss in the first half,” he said.

Puka Nacua appeared to injure himself in the first half, but came back into the game and performed well. While the receiver downplayed the incident and indicated he should be OK, Cougars coach Kalani Sitake acknowledged that he was hurting.

“He was banged up,” Sitake said after the game. “He’s not feeling great right now, but it’s OK. … I’m just grateful that he was able to get back in there and make some plays for us.”

Sitake added that with Pau’u out, a host of his receivers were able to step in and make an impact.

It’s still unclear if Pau’u is officially out for the season. Sitake said last week that it is unlikely he will see action Saturday against USC, which is the team’s last game of the season.

But the way the receiving core played against the Eagles should give BYU’s coaching staff the confidence that they are capable of weathering the storm if Pau’u doesn’t play again this year.

Tyler Allgeier, meanwhile, now finds himself No. 2 among the nation’s leaders in rushing touchdowns.

Allgeier ended the game with 136 yards on 25 carries, finding his stride in the second half.

“I think they had a good scheme to start for stopping the run,” BYU quarterback Jaren Hall said. “But as it kind of loosened up and started to respect the pass game a little more, Tyler was able to get loose and get his 100 yards as he usually does.”

Allgeier’s one rushing touchdown brought him to 18 on the season. Among FBS players, only Marshall’s Rasheen Ali has more rushing scores (20).

Allgeier’s 136 yards nearly eclipsed that of the entire Georgia Southern running offense, which finished the game with 146 rushing yards.

Allgeier had only 46 yards rushing in the first half. In the fourth quarter alone, he tallied 63.