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COUGAR DEFENSE CONTROLLED COLORADO STATE

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BYU football coach LaVell Edwards didn't like the fact his team had a bye week following their win two weeks ago over San Diego State. He was afraid the Cougars might lose some of the momentum they had built entering their game against defending champion Colorado State.

But the Cougars spoiled defending WAC champion Rams' homecoming game Saturday, 28-21.Now the Cougars have another bye week before traveling to play Arizona State.

"We have to take another week off and, again, we have to find a way to keep this momentum going," said Edwards.

The Cougar offense took some time to get going Saturday, but the defense was impressive from the start.

BYU won the coin flip and, for the first time in years, elected to receive the kickoff instead of deferring to the second half. It didn't work. Quarterback Steve Sarkisian was sacked the first time he went back to pass. Sarkisian's first pass two plays later was picked off by CSU's Mack Craft and returned 30 yards for a touchdown.

BYU had little offense going until on their ninth and final drive of the first half when they went 83 yards on 10 plays with the big one being a 25-yard TD strike on third down from Sarkisian to Mike Johnston. BYU had a 7-6 lead at the half.

"Colorado State is a good defensive team and it took us some time to figure out what they were doing," said Sarksisian, who finished with 254 yards passing and three touchdowns. "Our timing was off a bit in the first half."

BYU got the offense going in the second half - which included a running attack for the first time all season. Mark Atuaia carried the ball 22 times for 77 yards to lead the way. The Cougs scored three consecutive touchdowns at one point during the second half.

The Cougar defense dominated for more than three quarters of the game. With eight minutes to play Colorado State had just 98 yards of total offense. The Rams had two late touchdown drives to make the final score respectable, but BYU still dominated the total offensive yardage, 360 to 222.

Safety Eddie Sampson, with eight tackles, an interception and a pass deflection, had a fine game as did hard-hitting cornerback Tim McTyer (an interception, three tackles, two pass deflections) and linebacker Dennis Simmons (seven tackles).

The win puts the Cougars right back into the thick of the WAC race with a 2-1 record (2-2 overall).

BYU was last in the nation in running, averaging six yards per game, prior to Saturday's 106-yard rushing performance. It's still a matter of concern.