PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – It was an historic night for BYU, as the Cougars won their first Big 12 Conference game over Cincinnati, 35-27 at LaVell Edwards Stadium Friday night.
Kedon Slovis threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns, LJ Martin rushed for 66 yards and two scores, while Chase Roberts hauled in six catches for a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown as the Cougars improve to 4-1 on the season.
The BYU defense came up with the first score of the night, as Jakob Robinson picked off a pass from Emory Jones and returned it 42 yards for a pick-6 to give the Cougars an early 7-0 lead. For Robinson, that was his third interception of the season.
“We haven’t had a touchdown as a defense this year, so that was big for us,” Robinson said. “We knew the offense would come back and start putting up points.”
“They finished with 84 plays, and we had 53 on offense,” said head coach Kalani Sitake. “The fact that we scored that many points on that few plays means that we probably had some explosive plays, but we also need to possess the ball, convert some first downs and get some drives going. Defensively, we also need to get off the field and get some stops. I’m glad we were able to force some turnovers and turnovers on downs.”
The Bearcats came back to take a 10-7 lead as Jones hooked up with Chamon Metayer on a 27-yard strike. But after amassing just 38 yards before its final drive of the half, the BYU offense finally found the end zone with 14 seconds left in the half on a 22-yard scoring strike from Slovis to Darius Lassiter to give the Cougars a 14-10 lead.
“We started looking at their tendencies and what they were doing,” Roberts said. “We were talking as wide receivers, quarterback and offensive coordinator, and started calling plays that fit what we were seeing. I think it was just getting the right feel for what they were doing
and how we could best attack them. Then we got it going.”
The Cougars stretched the lead to 21-10 in the third quarter when Martin rumbled 29 yards for a touchdown, his fourth TD of the season.
After a field goal lead cut BYU’s lead to 21-13, Slovis found a wide open Roberts for a 59-yard touchdown to give the Cougars some breathing room.
Following a muffed punt by Cincinnati, Martin added another touchdown from a yard out to give BYU a comfortable 35-20 lead.
“It was really fun,” Martin said about his touchdown. “The offensive line did a great job. I didn’t even get touched until 20 yards in, and they are going to continue to do a great job. I couldn’t ask for a better offensive line.”
Cincinnati out-gained BYU in total yardage, 498 to 295, and had 26 first downs to 17 for BYU. But the Cougars won the critical turnover battle, 2-0. In last week’s loss to Kansas, the Cougars turned the ball over three times.
Slovis completed 13 of 24 passes for 223 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Max Tooley led BYU with 16 tackles, while Harrison Taggert had 11 and AJ Vongphachanh had 10. Tyler Batty had BYU’s lone sack of the game, while Slovis was not sacked by the Bearcats.
Emory Jones threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns and added 94 yards on the ground to lead the Bearcats.
BYU (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) now has a bye week before facing TCU in Fort Worth on October 14.