The Kalani Sitake era begins with an 18-16 victory over the Arizona Wildcats in the Cactus Kickoff.
GLENDALE, AZ – With eight seconds remaining on the game clock, the BYU Cougars trailed Arizona by one point. Head Coach Kalani Sitake sent out the field goal unit with the fate of the game resting on the shoulders of freshman Jake Oldroyd – who was a late addition to the travel roster.
Lining up from the left hash, the snap was good, the hold in place, and Oldroyd split the uprights from 33-yards out.
Instantaneously, he became a legend among Cougar faithful.
“Ed Lamb, felt really comfortable with him [Oldroyd] especially after our prior field goal and PAT we had earlier and we know it probably wasn’t a good time to do it, but Ed felt really comfortable for Jake being in that position,” said Kalani Sitake. “I had to lean on Ed as the special teams coordinator and trust his decision and it worked out.”
The winning field goal came at the tail end of a 53-yard drive with less than two minutes remaining in the game and the Cougars executed the two-minute drill to near perfection in order to get the win.
Taysom Hill started the final drive with a 17-yard pass to Moroni Laulu-Pututau to get to midfield. Hill then hit Trinnaman for two strikes covering 14 yards to get into Arizona territory and the team used a combination of Jamaal Williams and Hill carrying the ball on the ground to get the ball within field goal range and to win the game.
“We knew we [were] going to have to pass and have great pass protection and that’s what we did. I’m just proud of how the offense came out and we stayed cool and collected. We did everything we needed to do to win,” said Jamaal Williams. “In practice, we do that all the time. To do it in a game, it shows our hard work in practice is working and I’m just extremely proud of my teammates.”
Arizona’s final drive began from their own 20-yard line and was capped off with a 49-yard run by running back Nick Wilson who reached the endzone with 1:26 remaining on the game clock.
While there was plenty of drama in the final minutes of Saturday’s Cactus Kickoff, but BYU was in control for the majority of the game.
It was a defensive slugfest in Glendale and the Cougars started off the scoring with a 24-yard field goal from Rhett Almond following an 8-play drive covering 45-yards.
The Cougars then followed that up with an 11-play, 65-yard drive capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run from Brayden El-Bakri.
Arizona’s defense held the Cougars out of the defense until the fourth quarter when Taysom Hill led the offense 80-yards down field to hit Colby Pearson for a 6-yard strike in the end zone to take a 15-3 lead following a failed 2-point conversion.
BYU’s touchdown lit a fire under the Arizona offense who was held in-check through three quarters. Nick Wilson put the offense on his back scoring two touchdowns on rushes of 15 and 49 yards in the final ten minutes of the game.
Picking up his first win, Sitake was visibly excited on the sideline, but was quick to credit his players for their hard work which resulted in Saturday’s victory.
“This is not about me, these guys deserve [the credit],” said Sitake. “I’ve been really impressed with the leadership on this team and that’s just the type of character and guys we have on this team.”
Taysom Hill finished the game completing 21 of 29 passes for 202 yards and one touchdown in his return as quarterback for the Cougars. Williams literally put the team on his back rushing for 162 yards on 29 carries in his return in a Cougar uniform.
BYU’s defense had a strong game with plenty of production across the board posting four sacks, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. The unit held Arizona’s potent offense to just 56 total plays in which they tallied 328 yards including 115 on the ground.
Butch Pau’u led the defense with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble. Fellow linebacker Francis Bernard turned heads in his debut on the defensive side of the ball posting four tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, and one interception.
The Cougars will prepare to face in-state foe Utah in the Holy War at Rice-Eccles Stadium next Saturday at 5:30 pm MT on FOX.
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