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BYU RB Lopini Katoa Ruled Out For New Mexico Bowl

Dec 12, 2022, 9:44 PM
Lopini Katoa, BYU Football...
BYU football running back Lopini Katoa will not be playing in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)
(Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football will be without Lopini Katoa in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl. The senior running back won’t play in his final game as a BYU Cougars.

Kalani Sitake announced that Katoa would be out from Saturday’s game.

“Lopini won’t be playing in this game. He’s not ready,” Sitake said.

The seventh-year head coach didn’t expound further into why Katoa being ruled out for the matchup that pits two 7-5 teams against each other in Albuquerque.

BYU career for Lopini Katoa comes to a close

Katoa, a sixth-year senior, rushed for 332 yards on 75 carries in 10 games this season. He missed the regular season finale against Stanford due to an illness and being “hurt.” Katoa hasn’t played since the first quarter of the Senior Day win against Utah Tech, where he had one carry that resulted in a fumble.

Being sidelined for the New Mexico Bowl brings the former American Fork High standout’s BYU career to an end. Katoa has been a member of the BYU program since the 2017 season. He participated in the past two Senior Day ceremonies.

Last year, at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, Katoa announced that he would return for a sixth season in BYU’s backfield.

He played for five consecutive years, from 2018 to 2022. During those years, Katoa rushed for 1,799 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns. In addition, Katoa had 86 career receptions through the air for 803 yards and six touchdown grabs.

BYU finished with at least seven wins in each of the five seasons Katoa was a member.

Who will carry the football for BYU against SMU?

Without Katoa, the workload in BYU’s backfield will go to senior Chris Brooks. Plus, underclassmen Hinckley Ropati and Miles Davis.

The good news for BYU is that their opponent, the SMU Mustangs, has one of the worst rush defenses in college football. SMU enters the Bowl Season matchup in Albuquerque with the nation’s 121st-ranked rush defense. The Mustangs give up 203.2 yards per game. So even without Katoa, BYU should be able to run the football.

BYU vs. SMU

2022 New Mexico Bowl

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: ABC

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Extended pregame begins at Noon)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Mitch will be in Albuquerque for the 2022 New Mexico Bowl between BYU and SMU. Follow his coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU RB Lopini Katoa Ruled Out For New Mexico Bowl