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BYU can’t pull off upset

Extended scoring streak and defense provide silver lining

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For BYU, there was a host of positive things that came out of a 29-3 season-opening loss to Florida State Saturday night in the Pigskin Classic at Alltel Stadium.

For starters, the Cougars won't face a better team than the No. 2 ranked and defending national champion Seminoles the rest of the 2000 season. They held FSU's potent offense to just 14 points in the final three quarters. They extended their NCAA record streak to 313 games without being shut out. Barely.

"Playing that well against that quality of team," said senior defensive tackle Chris Hoke, "is exciting."

Not that BYU was happy to go back to Provo 0-1 on the season.

"It was a little bit frustrating," said coach LaVell Edwards. "It was typical of an opening night game."

But it was not a bad start, especially for a team that was playing with a pair of inexperienced quarterbacks in Bret Engemann and Charlie Peterson.

"We did some good things," said running back Luke Staley. "We just need to build on them."

As for Florida State, it was a successful beginning in its national title defense. Quarterback Chris Weinke, who threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns, was impressed with the Cougar defense. "We thought we could tire them out coming into the game, but they played hard for four quarters," Weinke said.

Coach Bobby Bowden couldn't believe what he was seeing on the field. "The game surprised me," he said. "We've been struggling defensively (in practices) and the offense was going up and down the field. It was just the opposite tonight."

He also had high praise for the Cougars. "They had every disadvantage there was. Everything was in our favor. They played us even as far as I'm concerned."

Still, it didn't look good for BYU early. Right after kickoff, it became apparent that moving the ball against Florida State's speedy defense would not be an easy chore. Engemann's first two passes fell incomplete, and the Cougars wound up punting.


A short, 38-yard kick by Aaron Edmunds and a 14-yard return by Anquan Boldin gave FSU the ball at the BYU 46. And the Seminoles wasted no time putting up points, utilizing a no-huddle offense and scoring on their first possession in 1:36. FSU was aided by a dead ball personal foul on Hoke, who hit Weinke while he was still under center. Three plays later, Weinke rolled out near the Cougar sideline and found junior Javon Walker in the back of the end zone for a touchdown — the first of his career — to jump to a 6-0 lead. Matt Munyon, trying to replace the departed two-time All-America Sebastian Janikowski, missed his first PAT.

"Our kicking game was what I was afraid of," Bowden said.

BYU moved into FSU territory for the only time in the first half, thanks to three penalties on the Seminoles. The Cougars reached the Seminole 36 before having to punt again.

A couple of series later, Weinke guided FSU on a 12-play, 70-yard drive that resulted in a three-yard touchdown pass to Atrews Bell. This time, Munyon connected with his kick to lift the Seminoles to a 13-0 advantage.

"In the first quarter I didn't expect the no-huddle offense," Hoke said. "They scored a couple of touchdowns, but we settled down after that."

Meanwhile, the FSU defense got into the scoring act, too. On the ensuing possession, on first down from the BYU 18, the Seminoles' Jamal Reynolds blindsided Engemann and stripped him of the ball. The ball squirted backward and rolled into the end zone, where it was recovered by BYU offensive lineman Ben Archibald for an FSU safety. Seminoles 15, Cougars 0.

"Their defensive quickness made things difficult for us," Edwards said.

Peterson came in for Engemann late in the first half and started well, completing a 15-yard pass to Margin Hooks. But BYU's woes on the offensive side continued, including a bad snap from Jason Scukanec to Peterson that Peterson was forced to pounce on.

After taking over at the BYU 46, the Seminoles scored again, in 62 seconds, highlighted by a career-high 21 yard run by Weinke and capped by a six-yard run by Bell. Now it was 22-zip.

It could have been worse, as FSU later marched to the BYU 8. But a nine-yard sack by defensive end Setema Gali knocked the Seminoles to the 17, then Munyon's 34-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.

Aside from a couple of grabs on two different series by tight end Tevita Ofahengaue, good for 23 and 25 yards, respectively, the Cougars continued to struggle offensively. Of course, that had something to do with the Seminole relentless rush, which saw Peterson scrambling for his life.

"Their defensive pressure made us sputter more than it should have," said offensive coordinator Lance Reynolds. "It causes breakdown and mistakes. Then again, this was Florida State we were playing."

To end the half, FSU linebacker Jerel Hudson picked off Peterson. At intermission, people were wondering if this was the night that the scoreless streak without was going to end. It marked the first time BYU had been shutout at halftime since a loss at Washington in 1998.

The possibility of BYU going scoreless seemed more likely when Engemann was intercepted by Clevan Thomas and returned 30 yards on BYU's first drive of the second half.

Meanwhile, the Cougar defense held its own against the FSU offense, forcing the Seminoles to punt on their first four possessions of the third quarter.

BYU finally put together an impressive drive midway through the period after a roughing-the-kicker call on FSU that granted the Cougars new life at their own 49. A 15-yard pass from Engemann to Hooks, followed up later by a 25-yard catch by Hooks gave the Cougars the ball at the Seminole 10 yard line. But then BYU self-destructed with three straight penalties — a holding call, a delay of game and a false start — that set it back to the FSU 30. On first-and-29, Engemann completed a pass to fullback Ned Stearns, who gained 17 yards before fumbling at the FSU 12. Seminole linebacker Bradley Jennings recovered, squelching BYU's best scoring opportunity at that point.

But the Cougars responded well the next time they had the ball. Engemann led BYU from its own one yard line to the FSU 25, highlighted by a 25-yard pass to Ofahengaue. Owen Pochman booted a 42-yard field goal to put the Cougars on the scoreboard.

Engemann's last passing attempt of the night was intercepted by rover Derrick Gibson near the end of the third quarter, and Peterson played the fourth quarter.

The Cougar defense allowed only one more score, a five-yard TD scamper by Minor with 1:11 left in the game, and FSU claimed a 29-3 victory.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com