Loyal Cougars

BYU escapes from Reno, beats Nevada 28-23

Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill sparked BYU to a victory in Reno with a resurgent second-half performance.

For the entire season, the BYU football team has been, for better and for worse, a team of two halves.

We’ve seen the good (1st half against Boise State), the bad (1st half against Utah), and flat out ugly (second half against Notre Dame). The season finale against Nevada looked as if it could be the game where the Cougars finally put together a complete performance.

After a sloppy start eliminated the opportunity of a complete game, BYU came alive in the second half and escaped Nevada with a victory thanks to 219 hard-earned yards from Jamaal Williams. The big day for Jamaal put him over the century mark for the season, giving BYU two 1000-yard rushers for the first time in school history.

In the first half, Nevada drove the ball with relative ease on its first possession, jumping out to a 7-0 lead. From there, the BYU defense was able hold strong, blocking a field goal and intercepting a Cody Fajardo pass. The offense however, was a mess. Poor pass protection and penalties (the Cougars finished with 14 penalties for a whopping 142 yards) kept Taysom Hill and company from gaining any momentum.

In his post game interview with Greg Wrubell, Bronco Mendenhall said that he was furious at halftime and he let the players know that. It showed in the second half, as the Cougars came out looking like a completely different team — the team we hoped would show up from the beginning.

Following what was arguably the ugliest half of football BYU put together all season, Williams came out running like a man possessed. On the second offensive play in the 3rd quarter Jamaal busted a 66-yard touchdown run to tie the game.

After the Williams score, the Cougar defense seemed to have a 3-and-out stop, but the first half sloppiness was clearly not out of their systems as Alani Fui was flagged 15 yards for jumping over the punter shield. After the penalty, the Wolf Pack marched down the field and Cody Fajardo scored an easy 3-yard touchdown.

With the score tied at 14-14, the Cougars showed improvement in the red zone with two Taysom Hill touchdown strikes of 3 and 10 yards respectively.

Nevada was able to come within five points on a late touchdown with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter but were unable to get he ball back as BYU ran out the clock.

In addition to the 219 yards from Williams, Hill ended the day with 154 rushing yards of his own as BYU totaled 394 as a team. The Cougars outgained the Wolf Pack 492 to 363.

The win finishes BYU’s regular season campaign at 8-4. The Cougars finish the 2013 season at the Fight Hunger Bowl on December 27th in San Francisco against a yet-to-be-determined opponent from the Pac-12.