PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – What a difference a week makes for the BYU offense.
After struggling in their season opener against Sam Houston, Kedon Slovis and the Cougar offense got it rolling against Southern Utah Saturday in a 41-16 blowout victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
BYU scored just two touchdowns the entire game against the Bearkats a week ago, but the Cougars doubled that output in the first half alone.
Slovis completed 22 of 32 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for another TD as the Cougars built a 27-3 halftime lead and cruised to the victory.
“I think we just came out and played better and executed,” Slovis said. “That’s the team that I have seen all fall camp, and that’s the offense that we are. We still have a lot of plays out
there and yards on the field. It wasn’t a perfect game, by any means, but I’m proud of
the guys, and when adversity hit, I thought we did a pretty good job executing.”
“We are 2-0,” head coach Kalani Sitake put it simply. “It wasn’t the best game, but I saw some really promising things. Obviously, I would like to play better in all three phases. I am thankful for some of the plays that the guys made to put some points on the board for the offense. We will keep getting better from now until next week when we are on the road. For the most part, I’m happy we got the win.”
Eight different BYU players recorded a reception, four of which posted three or more. Chase Roberts led all BYU pass catchers with six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Isaac Rex led BYU in receiving yards with a career-high112 on four receptions and a touchdown. Rex tied Gordon Hudson for most touchdown catches by a BYU tight end with 22.
Keanu Hill recorded his first touchdown grab of the season, while Darius Lassiter snagged the first of his Cougar career.
LJ Martin led BYU in rushing for the second time in as many games with 27 yards on six carries.
After a sluggish start and 6-3 lead in the first quarter, the Cougar offense roared to life, scoring 27 unanswered points to close the half. Slovis went 10-of-14 for 161 yards and threw two touchdowns in the second quarter alone.
BYU special teams helped spark the Cougars in both halves with a blocked punt and recovery following a Southern Utah muff. Return man and receiver Parker Kingston amassed 105 all-purpose yards.
Ben Bywater led the BYU defense with seven tackles (two solo), half a tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hurry. Ethan Slade also contributed seven tackles with four solo stops. BYU recorded seven quarterback hurries for the second straight week. AJ Vongphachanh led the Cougars in pressuring the quarterback with two on the day.
“I think you could definitely tell a different sense of urgency with the tone of our defense,” said linebacker Max Tooley. “It’s cliche but ‘guys are firing around’ and trying to gain tackle. I think that’s what’s going to make a defense aggressive — it’s being willing to impose your will on the other team to play, and make them quit.”
Justin Miller completed 16 of 30 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown to Isaiah Wooden for Southern Utah. Zack Mitchell led the Thunderbirds with seven catches for 135 yards. Targhee Lambson had a touchdown run for SUU (0-2).
BYU wraps up the non-conference schedule next week at Arkansas.