BYU Snaps Two-Game Skid With Dominating Win Over Hawaii

Oct 14, 2018, 12:34 AM | Updated: Oct 15, 2018, 6:31 pm
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) breaks away and runs for a touchdown as BYU and ...
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) breaks away and runs for a touchdown as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (Scott G Winterton/ Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton/ Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU Cougars ended their two-game losing streak in dominating fashion, taking down Hawaii 49-23 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Freshman Makes First Career Start

BYU elected to start quarterback Zach Wilson over Tanner Mangum. Wilson became the youngest Cougar to start at quarterback in school history at age 19. Wilson was outstanding, throwing three touchdowns to go with 194 yards. He added a rushing touchdown as well.

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) who is making his first start gets warmed up with teammate Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum (12) as BYU and Hawaii prepare to play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

“I was grateful for the opportunity and tried to make the most of it,” said Wilson. “Everyone knows that a quarterback can’t be successful without a good (offensive) line and good (wide) receivers,” he added.

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was pleased with the overall performance from Wilson.

“I thought he did some really good things, I’m not happy about the pick that he threw. I thought he got a little greedy and tried to think too high of himself and tried to fit the ball in there,” Sitake said. “For what we recruited him to do, he came in and did it.”

Running Game Returned

The Cougars were without starting running back Squally Canada who was out with an undisclosed injury. In his absence, the running backs were productive on the ground, racking up 280 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Led by Matt Hadley with 91 yards and one touchdown and Lopini Katoa added 83 yards.

BYU Flawless In First Half

During the two game losing streak, head coach Kalani Sitake challenged his team to get off to a good start. Saturday night against Hawaii, BYU did just that.

Scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions, starting with Katoa on a 12-yard run. Wilson used his legs to get the Cougars in the end zone on their second drive from 23-yards out.

Brigham Young Cougars running back Lopini Katoa (4) tries to stiff-arm Hawaii Warriors defensive lineman Kaimana Padello (96) as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

BYU countered on the ground once again, this time from Matt Hadley on a 21-yard run. The Cougars had a 21-0 lead before Hawaii hit a 33-yard field goal.

Cougar’s defensive back Austin Lee picked off McDonald and returned it to the Hawaii 13-yard line, setting the offense up in prime field position. The first play after the pick, Wilson threw his first career passing touchdown to fellow freshman tight end Dallin Holker for 13 yards.

About as good of a first half that BYU has played all season, saw them with a 28-3 halftime lead. Compiling more rushing yards in the opening half than they did in their last two games combined, tallying 140 yards on the ground.

Cougars Finish Strong

BYU gained momentum from a critical miscue on special teams as Hawaii returner Justice Augafa muffed the punt and Cougars defensive back Dayan Ghanwoloku recovered the ball in giving the offense just 35 yards to work with.

Five plays later, running back Riley Burt ran in a three yard touchdown, carrying the ball every play of that drive.

Holding an 18-point lead with 10:50 remaining in the game, the Cougars added to the scoreboard with wide receiver Aleva Hifo catching a 24-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to bump their lead to 42-17.

BYU placed their final stamp on the game with 3:45 left, scoring another touchdown as Wilson hit wide receiver Gunner Romney from 26 yards out on fourth down.

Defense Stopped Prolific Offense

Hawaii’s high powered offense entered Saturday at No. 5 in the country in total offense, averaging 468 yards per game. The Cougar’s defense held them to 311 yards.

Rainbow Warriors quarterback Cole McDonald had 248 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver John Ursua was the bright spot for Hawaii’s offense, collecting 89 yards on 9 catches for one touchdown.

Hawaii Warriors quarterback Cole McDonald (13) is sacked by Brigham Young Cougars defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga (95) as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

Sitake was impressed with the performance of his defense.

I was pleased with the way the defense played for the most part,” Sitake said. “The second half we just gave away too many plays, part of that was the adjustments that Hawaii made,” he said.

Much Needed Win

This win was important for the Cougars, snapping a two-game losing streak, both of those losses in blowout fashion. BYU is back on track to become become bowl eligible, needing only two more wins.

Kalani Sitake was just happy that the losing streak is over.

“We feel good about ourselves and just got out of that slump of not playing our style of football,” he said.

BYU improved to 4-3 on the season. They will have the next week off before returning to action on October 27. They will host Northern Illinois at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

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