Coming of their worst season-record in 29 years, the Cougars face one of its most exciting but daunting season schedules ever this fall. Indeed, they play three teams that were ranked in the Top 25 last year.
Anybody who feels a 3-4 loss season is acceptable, raise your hands. Most knowledgeable Cougar fans have high hopes for this year's relatively unproven and untested team.
OK sports fans, welcome to the wonderful, wacky (deference to our previous WAC affiliation) and wild world of Cougar football...
Up first is Georgia Tech, a team which handed the Cougars a heartbreaking loss last year in Atlanta. It's payback time come August 28, in ESPN's first nationally televised Thursday night game of the season.
This game is in front of a near sell-out home crowd, who have higher expectations this year despite the Cougars toughest schedule in more than 10 years. No sweat, right Gary?
It's game time, folks.
It is a beautiful Thursday night. Temperatures in Provo were as high as 95 degrees today and what a beautiful and majestic setting it was earlier before sundown at the base of the Wasatch Mountains.
The air is beginning to cool down to a comfortable 75 degrees as the Cougars take the field. A crowd of 63,452 rises to their feet. The ESPN color commentary comes on and introduces its national audience to Provo, Utah's Garden City. Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler all pick Georgia Tech to run all over BYU.
Georgia Tech wins the coin toss and elects to receive. The crowd rises to their feet as Matt Payne boots it out of the end zone for a touchback. The Cougars set the tone early. On the very first play of the game, Mendenhall blitzes Francisco, Madsen and Gilford. All but Gilford penetrate Tech's backfield and swarm quarterback Demarius Bilbo. Francisco and Madsen sandwich him for a 5-yard loss before the play can even develop.
Three and out.
After an impressive defensive series, the Cougars start offensively with great field position after the Yellow Jackets botch a punt which wobbles out of bounds at the Tech 48. The Cougars run three straight plays with Marcus Whalen picking up five yards each play. The Cougars come out in a 5 WR, no back formation. Berry sets Daniel Coats in motion as the ball is snapped. He takes a three step drop and quickly finds Rod Wilkerson in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown strike.
The BYU faithful go bonkers.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tech returns it to the 33-yard line where Mendenhall's defense takes the field and only allows one first down and forces another Tech punt at the Yellow Jacket 45-yard line. After a Stancil return of 12 yards to the BYU 35, the Cougar offense takes the field again.
On this series, however, Tech decides to bring a little pressure of their own. They blitz their linebackers and safeties, forcing Berry to throw his first two passes out of bounds to avoid the sack. Berry connects on a third down pass to a wide open Breyon Jones to the Tech 49 yard line. After driving down to the 34 yard line, the Cougars face their first 4th and 1 situation of the game. Of course, Crowton opts to go for it. Fahu Tahi sees an opening close at the last minute and is stopped dead in his tracks behind the line of scrimmage.
1st quarter BYU 7 - Georgia Tech 0
It is midway through the second quarter, the score is unchanged and the game has settled into a defensive struggle. Defensively, things seem to be going well for the Cougars until Bilbo finds WR #21 streaking down the sidelines for a 55-yard gain putting the Jackets in great field position at the BYU 21. The Cougar defense holds and forces Tech to kick a 21-yard field goal.
On the very next drive, BYU drives down to the Tech 35 and Matt Payne add a 46-yard field goal of their own with 35 seconds remaining in the 1st half.
Halftime - BYU 10 - Georgia Tech 3
The Cougars, with obvious adjustments during the half, unleashes an impressive 3rd quarter showing, scoring 17 points and holding Georgia Tech scoreless in the third. The Cougar scores came at the hands of Berry to Bristol Olomua for 36 and 20-yard touchdown strikes. Matt Payne also adds a 50-yard field goal of his own. Defensively, BYU's key guy is Nebraska transfer Manaia Brown, who forces and recovers a fumble at the BYU 48. He also has two sacks and two tackles for losses -- all in the 3rd quarter.
3rd Quarter - BYU 27 - Georgia Tech 3
After a Matt Payne field goal early in the 4th set up by a Marcus Whalen 46 yard run, Crowton called off the dogs early and gave John Beck some reps at Quarterback. Beck goes 6 for 10 for 59 yards. Even with BYU's first stringers out, Tech valiantly tries to make the score a little more respectable, but to no avail. Georgia Tech does not gain a 1st down in the final quarter. As the Cougars watched the clock tick down, their first game jitters and impressive win is only tempered by thoughts of a waiting and more challenging battle next week against USC.
Final Score - BYU 30 - Georgia Tech 3
BYU ~ Georgia Tech 1st Downs 15 8 Total Off. 317 209 Rushes - Yds. 34-125 31-55 Comp-Att-TD 16-25-3 9-20-0 Pass Yds. 192 154 Sacked 1 3 Redzone-TD-FG 4-2-2 1-0-1 Turnovers 1 (downs) 2 Penalties-Yds 5-45 2-15 T.O.P 37:11 23:49
Berry 13-19/167 yds. ~ 3 Td ~ 68% ~ 8.7 Avg. ~ 1 sack ~ 36 long Whalen 19-113 yds ~ 5.5 yd Avg ~ 46 Long ~ 25 yds after 1st Hit ~ 10 broken tackles
Copyright © 2003 TotalBlueSports.com