Cougars Win Confidence Booster on the Road

BYU's young offense, so close but yet so far in two narrow losses, apparently found itself last Saturday in San Diego's Qualcomm Park. At game's end, 418 yards of total offense and 44 points was the result of a winning 44-36 effort against the No. 4 ranked Aztec defense in the country. Even more impressive was the Cougars won despite two <b>John Beck</b> fumbles that were returned by the Aztec defense for touchdowns.

True freshman quarterback Beck's positives were: Completed 17 of 26 for 180 yards, two touchdowns, with no interceptions. The Beck negatives: He fumbled three times and he needs to learn to get down or out of bounds, instead of taking the big hit at the end of a run.

Game balls go to David Nixon, another true freshman, on defense and sophomore fullback Naufau Tahi, on offense. Nixon came up big time in place of the injured Levi Madarieta. Tahi, filling in for injured Taufui Vakapuna, was nails of critical blocks and scored two acrobatic touchdowns from throws by Beck.

Further evidence of improvement: only five penalties for 55 yards, and even one of them should have been a no-call against Lance Pendleton for a late hit, which was in reality a minor push at the end of a play.

For a still-developing BYU team, this was a big win. The defense was impressive in stopping the run, though they gave up some big passing plays and improvement is needed. Nevertheless, consider what the outcome would have been but for the mistakes: three lost fumbles by Beck; at least three drops by freshman tight end Daniel Coats that would have moved the chains; and a dropped interception by David Nixon, which would have been a walk-in touchdown.

Are the young Cougars on the verge of a major offensive rout? Could it happen this week at home against Colorado State? Be forewarned, however, that this is still a young team, with a lot to learn.

Next up for BYU: Colorado State visits Provo on Thursday in an ESPN game.

Meanwhile, here is a wrap of the weekend past with MWC teams:

CSU 34, Fresno 10

The Rams trailed 3-0 after the first quarter, but outscored the Bulldogs 34-7 thereafter. The Rams used a balanced attack, rushing for 270 yards and passing for 197. BYU will have to avoid key mistakes to beat a Ram squad which, although experienced, has been erratic this year.

Utah 17, Oregon 13

The enigmatic Ducks lose two in a row. After upsetting then No. 3 Michigan in Eugene, Oregon, the Ducks were similarly routed at home by Washington State 55-16 before losing last week in Salt Lake City.

So how good is Oregon? It's hard to say after Michigan fell yesterday in Iowa City. How good is Utah? The Utes managed to beat a Cal squad (that defeated USC at home by one score; it was 24-all with 1:06 in regulation); needed a last second miracle to defeat Colorado State at Ft. Collins; and nipped Oregon by four points after trailing until the fourth quarter. It seems the Utes may be the class of the MWC to date. The Utes are ranked No. 27 in this week's poll, only two points behind No. 26 Washington.

Next up for the Utes: SDSU in Salt Lake City Saturday night.

New Mexico 34, Utah State 7

No problems for the home-standing Lobos as DonTrell Moore rushed for 132 yards on 30 carries. Aggies fall to 1-4, UNM improves to 3-3.

The Lobos now have a week off before traveling to SDSU on October 18.

UNLV 16 @ Nevada 12

The Rebels avoided embarrassment for themselves and the conference by scoring ten fourth quarter points to down their in-state rival for the fourth consecutive year. The Rebels made it closer than necessary by giving away two fumbles and an interception. Rebel coach John Robinson was also struck in the head by a beer can or plastic beer bottle as the teams left the field at halftime, but was not seriously injured. They held the ball for over 38 minutes, but because to their turnovers, could squeeze only 16 points out of what should have been the decisive advantage.

Next up: at Air Force.

AFA 25 @ Navy 28

While UNLV avoided an embarrassing loss, the same cannot be said for Air Force. A week after defeating BYU in a game marred by a controversial ending, the Falcons were out-rushed by the Middies, had more penalties, and less time of possession. This was not a fluke. Air Force was outplayed.

Next up: UNLV at home.

Wyoming did not play.

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