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Cougars prove they can run in season's first win

Brown gains 110 yards, while Tahi tacks on 59

BYU's Curtis Brown (6) tries to fend off the tackle of Eastern Illinois' Cline Sellers.
BYU's Curtis Brown (6) tries to fend off the tackle of Eastern Illinois' Cline Sellers.
Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — BYU has a running game, after all.

It was on full display Saturday during the Cougars' 45-10 thumping of Eastern Illinois as Curtis Brown rushed 18 times for 110 yards and a touchdown while Fahu Tahi ran nine times for 59 yards and a score.

Brown did fumble once, but other than that, BYU looked solid on the ground, accumulating 176 yards.

"It felt awesome. Besides the fumble, it was a great day running the ball," Brown said. "We've developed more as players, getting the opportunity last week to pass the ball and now an opportunity to run. We have a feel for both."

In last week's season-opener against Boston College, BYU mustered only eight yards rushing on 16 attempts.

"I thought the backs ran great. Anytime you see the running backs have a great day, it's due to the offensive line," said quarterback John Beck.

"Those guys up front were making big holes for those guys. We had some

big runs. Curtis and Fahu do a great job of running hard and breaking tackles."

It marked the first time since last season, during a 49-16 victory over San Diego State, that the Cougars had a back with more than 100 yards rushing. Brown racked up 106 yards that day.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE: The last time BYU scored at least 17 points in the first quarter was against Colorado State in 2001 in Provo. Meanwhile, the Cougars recorded their first first-half shutout since leading New Mexico 10-0 at intermission in 2003.

STARTING POINTS: Since 1974, the Cougars have opened a season with a loss 12 times. In those 12 years, BYU finished with winning records in 11 of them and wound up .500 in the other.

The last time BYU started a season with a loss and ended up with a losing record was in 1973 (5-6). Meanwhile, BYU opened with wins in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and finished with a losing record in each of those seasons.

NOTES: Attendance was 52,630 . . . Beck's interception was the first he had thrown since BYU lost to New Mexico last season. During that stretch, Beck completed 86 of 135 attempts . . . For the second straight week, BYU won the coin toss and elected to receive opening kickoff . . . Cornerback Justin Robinson, a junior college transfer, made his first career start on Saturday. On his first kickoff return, he gained 19 yards . . . Saturday's opponent was BYU's first-ever from the state of Illinois.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com