by Daniel Olsen
It is safe to say that this game played to the usual script when these two teams have faced off in the last five years. It would be a one-possession game, but the BYU Cougars would come out on top in a 24-16 win over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Slow Start First Quarter
Both teams would start off scoreless in the first quarter as they combined for five punts. The only players that looked good were the punters as they both offenses were pinned deep in their own territory. The Cougars did have a 47-yard drive near the end of the first, but elected to punt as they were just outside field goal range.
Cougars Pounce in Second
The Cougars made their move as Tyler Allgeier capped off a 73-yard drive with a 15-yard scamper to the end zone. It culminated with a sour taste though. The snap was bobbled and BYU would fail to get the extra point off.
An Arizona score would have to wait another possession as Lucas Havrisik would fail to convert a 31-yard field goal. The Cougars would seize the opportunity and make the play of the game as Neil Pau’u beat his man for a 67-yard touchdown reception. The crowd, including New York Jets quarterback and former Cougar Zach Wilson, was on their feet at this point. BYU would get the two point conversion and go up 14-0. The Wildcats would tack on a field goal for their only score of the game at halftime.
Arizona Down but not Out
When BYU scored their third touchdown of the game, it looked pretty bleak for the Wildcats. However, the Wildcats scored 10 points in a span of 72 seconds thanks to a safety and their first touchdown of the game with a two-point conversion to pull within one possession.
At this point, Wildcats fans could be heard chanting “U of A!” They were quickly drowned out by a sea of Cougar fans chanting “B-Y-U!” as the house of the Las Vegas Raiders was about three quarters full of BYU fans.
BYU Hangs on to win
In the end, the Cougars did just enough to win but still have some questions remaining. The two teams traded field goals and a failed onside kick attempt by the Arizona Wildcats in the final minute resulted in a win for the Cougars. The only winners in Arizona were the sports gamblers who predicted the Wildcats to cover the 12.5 point spread.
Player of the Game
Neil Pau’u was the main target as he had 126 receiving yards and the two receiving touchdowns on the night. The BYU defense also deserves some credit for holding the Wildcats to only 81 rushing yards on the night.
However, Hall proved that he is a Swiss Army Knife of an athlete as he was able to catch, run and throw at a high level. He caught a 9-yard trick pass from his usual target in Pau’u that would result in the first BYU touchdown of the game in the ensuing possession. His 39-yard rush set the Cougars up for their third and final touchdown of the game. He gets a pass in his season debut as he did so with flying colors.
With the win, the Cougars are 1-0 for the second straight season. They defeated Navy on Labor Day to begin their magical 2020 season. This game set a Nevada record for the largest attended college football game in state history.
BYU now has an even 14-14-1 record against the Arizona Wildcats, and has won three straight games against the school. The Cougars are slated to make a return trip to Las Vegas to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next year.
Featured image courtesy Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News