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This was the second week in a row that WSU has faced an FBS football team. Last week, the Wildcats lost to California State University, Fresno in Fresno, Calif., 37-10.
After a defensive 11 minutes from both teams to begin the first quarter of the game came the first touchdown just before the three-minute marker of the first period. The Cougars led a nine-play, 90-yard offensive drive that lasted more than three minutes. The drive ended with a 37-yard touchdown pass caught by BYU receiver Cody Hoffman.
After the first touchdown of the first quarter, offensive opportunities for Wildcats were halted, resulting in a 7-0 lead for BYU at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter opened with two big offensive plays for the Cougars, including a 27-yard pass to BYU receiver Alex Kuresa just short of the BYU goal line. The next play resulted in a two-yard touchdown run from BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, giving BYU a 14-0 lead over the Wildcats.
With four minutes left in the second quarter, BYU running back Michael Alisa scored an eight-yard rushing touchdown for the Cougars after an offensive drive of 72 yards.
The Wildcats intercepted a pass from the Cougars with a minute left in the first half, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity after they fumbled the ball to BYU as time ran out.
At the end of the first half, the Wildcats were down to the Cougars with a score of 21-0. WSU had a total offensive production of 38 plays, resulting in 85 yards. WSU running back C.J. Tuckett contributed with 54 rushing yards, and quarterback Mike Hoke finished the half going 8-18 in passing completions/attempts and throwing for 65 yards.
After a few offensive attempts from both teams to begin the second half, the Cougars scored another touchdown with a pass caught by BYU tight end Kaneakua Friel, making the gap wider for the Wildcats with a score of 28-0.
WSU scored its first touchdown late in the third quarter after a one-yard touchdown run from WSU running back Josh Booker. The touchdown scored was a result of a nine-play, 75-yard drive by the Wildcats. BYU blocked the extra-point attempt, making the score 28-6.
Within the final minute of the third quarter, WSU allowed a BYU field goal, giving the Cougars a 31-6 lead that carried to the fourth quarter.
BYU quarterbacks Hill and James Lark scored a pair of touchdowns on the WSU defense throughout the fourth quarter, expanding the Wildcats’ point deficit to 45-6.
The Wildcats scored their second touchdown with one minute left in the game. After a seven-play, 77-yard drive, WSU running back Kris Parham ran for a few yards into the end zone. These were the final points scored in the match, giving WSU its second loss of the season with a score of 45-13.
WSU finished with 254 overall yards of offense, including 80 rushing yards from Tuckett, 65 rushing yards and a touchdown from Booker, and 91 passing yards from Hoke.
“Probably on a scale of 1-10, I would say (we are) maybe a seven,” said WSU Head Coach Jody Sears about the Wildcats’ level of toughness and play. “I like it. I like where we are. I think we’ve got some callous to us. I think we’ve got some guys who are craving some contact, and they’re not afraid to shy away from being tough and getting into those tough environments . . . I like where we are from a ‘toughness’ standpoint, but by no means are we where we need to be. . . . we’ve got to continue to build and get better.”
One of the highlights of the game for the Wildcats came from kicker/punter Tony Epperson. Epperson’s longest punt of the game traveled 74 yards, making it one of the longest punts in WSU history.
“I’ve never kicked the ball that far in my life,” said Epperson with a laugh.
Concerning Epperson’s quality of play and his long-distance kicking, Sears said, “Oh boy, he turned the field over for us — I don’t know how many times! I think he averaged 50 yards a kick . . . I was really happy with that.”
The Wildcats (0-2) will play their home opener against McNeese State University this Saturday at WSU. The game begins at 6 p.m.