PROVO — When BYU decided to run the ball right into the teeth of the Wyoming defense, it needed the offensive linemen to dominate.
And dominate they did.
The big guys in the trenches opened up monster holes for running backs Curtis Brown and Fahu Tahi and helped push BYU to a 24-13 victory over the Cowboys Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"As an O-line, it was a great feeling to be able to take the game and put it on our shoulders," said senior right guard Scott Young. "We knew by the third quarter that we could do it. That play-calling, running the ball like that, is the funnest thing in the world."
Overall, coach Gary Crowton called 44 running plays, compared to 26 passing plays, against the Cowboys.
Late in the third quarter, the Cougars began a drive that consisted of nine consecutive running plays. That drive culminated with a 9-yard touchdown by Brown early in the fourth quarter, lifting BYU to a 17-13 advantage, a lead it would not relinquish.
The Cougars added another score late in the fourth quarter with a 12-play drive featuring 10 running plays. It was capped by a 15-yard TD run by Tahi.
For the game, Brown carried 24 times for 159 yards (6.6-yard average) while Tahi totaled 70 yards on 12 carries (5.8 yards).
Nobody enjoyed seeing that kind of success on the ground more than the offensive line.
"In the first half, we were moving the ball but weren't getting anything out of it. Things were a little bit shaky. We knew if we hung in there, we would eventually break (Wyoming's) will," Young said. "It was like they gave up in the fourth quarter. We were pushing people back, knocking people on the ground. It was a great feeling looking up and seeing No. 6 (Brown) and No. 3 (Tahi) just trucking down the field. We were thinking, 'That's what we've been working for.' We've been getting stronger in the run. We needed to run the ball. It wore the clock down, and it completely destroyed them. They couldn't stop us. Their safeties had to come up to make tackles. We were breaking through their front seven."
What's more, BYU did not give up a sack.
Quarterback John Beck heaped praise on the offensive line.
"Those guys won us the ball game offensively," he said.
"After I handed the ball off, I could see the holes those guys had opened for the running backs. They did an extremely good job. The combination of our hogs just completely tearing their defensive line and linebackers apart and our running backs running hard, they couldn't stop us."
Crowton also credited the offensive line's effort, as well as that of fullback Moa Peaua. The 6-foot, 285-pounder also paved the way for the running backs by flattening would-be tacklers.
"The offensive line and Moa did a really good job," Crowton said. "Our line's coming together. Coach (Jeff) Grimes and coach (Lance) Reynolds and coach (Mike) Empey have done an outstanding job with the run game."
The Cougars improved to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain West Conference. They take on Air Force Saturday (1 p.m.) in Colorado Springs.