PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The Zach Wilson is off to a roaring start.
In his first collegiate start, BYU’s freshman quarterback completed 16 of 24 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars dominate Hawaii at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday night, 49-23.
BYU racked up 474 total offensive yards on its way to scoring a season-high in points to improve to 4-3 on the season.
“I think everybody’s pretty grateful for what they have and I trust the coaches,” Wilson said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity and I’m just trying to make the most of it and luckily I have my teammates. Everyone knows that a quarterback can’t be successful without a good line or good receivers or a good scheme, so I think everything’s in place.”
“I’m happy about the result; a lot of guys contributed,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “There are some things we can work on, but we got out of the slump of not playing our style of football for the past couple weeks.”
The 474 yards is the most for BYU since earning 598 yards against San Jose State in 2017. The Cougars also set a season high in rushing yards with 280 and had four players score on the ground. Matt Hadley had a career night with 91 yards on nine attempts and a game-high 39-yard rush while also scoring his first touchdown. Lopini Katoa gained 83 yards on 16 attempts and a score and Riley Burt rushed for 59 yards on nine attempts and a score.
Wilson completed passes to nine different receivers, with Aleva Hifo leading the team with three receptions for 45 yards and one touchdown. Wilson hooked up with Gunner Romney for a touchdown for the second week in a row on a 26-yard pass while tight end Dallin Holker pulled in a 12-yard reception for his first collegiate score.
“As we talk about it over and over again, you guys have heard us say that guys are competing in every position,” Sitake said. “We feel like everyone needs to do their job every week and there are a lot of positions where we’ll be making some changes and that just happened to be one of them this week. Going into it we felt like the competition, especially in the last couple of weeks, he was good enough to give him the starting spot because he deserved it.”
Wilson, the youngest starting (19 years, 2 months) in program history, gave the Cougars a 14-0 lead on a 23-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.
BYU scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and on three of its first five. Katoa’s 12-yard scoring run capped 12-play, 87-yard drive to open the scoring. After Hawaii failed to convert a fourth-and-6 from near midfield, Hadley’s 21-yard touchdown run made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter. Hawaii answered with a 33-yard field goal about three minutes later, but Austin Lee intercepted a pass from Cole McDonald and returned it 36 yards to the 13. On the next play, Wilson hit Dallin Holker for a TD that pushed the lead to 25 at the break.
Hawaii (6-2), which came in averaging more than 468 yards per game, was limited to 311 against BYU. The Rainbow Warriors had just 63 yards rushing on 28 carries.
The defense recorded a season-high four sacks. Austin Lee recorded his first career interception and Dayan Ghanwoloku recovered his first fumble.
“For us to come out and respond the way we did was amazing,” said defensive end Corbin Kaufusi, who led the Cougars with 8 tackles and 2 sacks. “You can’t really coach physicality. You can tell someone to be physical, but it’s all about just bringing it. Everyone has to find that fire. It was cool because before the game you could see it in everyone, everyone had that fire in their eyes. Everyone responded personally and took it upon themselves.”
BYU has a bye week before hosting Northern Illinois on October 27th.