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Saturday morning quarterback: Stars and stats from BYU's thrilling win over Mississippi State

BYU fans go crazy as Brigham Young Cougars tight end Tanner Balderree (89) runs in for the go ahead touch down as BYU and Mississippi State play in Provo at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.
BYU fans go crazy as Brigham Young Cougars tight end Tanner Balderree (89) runs in for the go ahead touch down as BYU and Mississippi State play in Provo at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.
Scott G Winterton,

The BYU Cougars did just enough on both sides of the ball to outlast the Mississippi State Bulldogs 28-21 in double overtime in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday night.

The Cougars came from behind to tie the score on three separate occasions before taking their first lead in double overtime to come away with the thrilling victory.

Scoring recap

The Bulldogs got on the board when Nick Fitzgerald found Keith Mixon for a 44-yard touchdown. The key play on the drive came when BYU was penalized for a substitution infraction on a fourth and 4 to give the Bulldogs a first down.

The Cougars tied the score on the next possession when Taysom Hill connected with Hunter Marshall for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth and goal. BYU converted three third downs on the drive, including a pair of runs by Hill and an 18-yard reception by Nick Kurtz.

Mississippi State regained the lead when Fitzgerald scored on a 1-yard plunge. Fred Ross was the big playmaker on the drive with catches of 21, 14 and 17 yards to move the sticks.

After a scoreless third quarter, BYU tied the game on a leaping 15-yard touchdown grab from Moroni Laulu-Pututau to tie the game at 14. Kurtz had another big play on the possession with a 16-yard catch and run on third and 3.

Moroni Laulu-Pututau's 15-yard touchdown catch in the 4th quarter brought @BYUfootball into a 14-14 tie with @HailStateFB pic.twitter.com/mObtvcfk6c

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 15, 2016

Nick Fitzgerald pushed the Bulldogs back on top with a 2-yard touchdown on the first drive of overtime.

BYU tied the game on a 1-yard touchdown run from Hill. A key play on the drive came when Tanner Balderree picked up a Hill fumble deep in the backfield and took it for a 6-yard gain.

Balderree finished the scoring on the Cougars' next possession with a 25-yard touchdown reception for the 28-21 lead.

Here's the game-winning TD pass to @BYUfootball's Tanner Balderree in Cougars' 28-21 win over @HailStateFB. First career TD for Balderree pic.twitter.com/TvOopLOS1s

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 15, 2016

Three stars

3. Tanner Balderree

Balderree had two touches in the game, and they were key in the win for the Cougars. He had a huge run in the first overtime, followed by the game-winning 25-yard touchdown catch.

2. Francis Bernard

Bernard was a tackling machine for the Cougars in the win. He totaled 16 tackles, including 13 solo and a tackle for loss.

1. Sae Tautu

Tautu had a monster performance, making a number of key plays for the BYU defense. He finished with eight tackles, two and a half tackles for loss, one and a half sacks and a pass defended.

.@BYUfootball's Sae Tautu, shown here making a key 4th Q sack, with a monster game Friday: 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL vs. @HailStateFB pic.twitter.com/9bWMuFFtpt

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 15, 2016

Analyzing the stats

The game was even all the way down the line, outside of total yards. Time of possession was 30:58-29:02 in favor of the Cougars, while turnovers were two to two. The Bulldogs had the edge in first downs, 23-20 and total yards, 386-311.

Jamaal Williams finished with 26 carries for 76 yards to break the BYU all-time rushing record.

And here's where @BYUfootball's Jamaal Williams (@jswaggdaddy) breaks the school record for career rushing yards pic.twitter.com/t6BUhGEvmq

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 15, 2016

Taysom Hill accounted for all four Cougar touchdowns, including three through the air and one on the ground in the win. It was his most touchdowns in a game since the opening game of the 2014 season when he had five touchdowns in the 35-10 win over Connecticut.

Jonny Linehan had a big night for the Cougars on special teams. He averaged 47.7 yards on six punts, including four punts that pinned the Bulldogs inside the 20-yard line.

Kai Nacua now leads the nation with five interceptions after picking off Fitzgerald in the fourth quarter.

Up next

The Cougars head back on the road to square off with the undefeated Boise State Broncos. The Broncos are 5-0 on the season with wins over Louisiana Lafayette, Washington State, Oregon State, Utah State and New Mexico.

Brett Rypien leads the Boise State offense with 1,415 yards passing and 11 touchdowns with just three interceptions.

His favorite weapons are Thomas Sperbeck and Cedrick Wilson. Sperbeck leads the team with 33 catches for 629 yards and five touchdowns while Wilson has totaled 23 receptions for 432 yards and five scores.

Jeremy McNichols leads the ground attack with 558 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. He is also a threat in the passing game with 16 catches for 216 yards and three scores.

The Broncos are also very solid on the defensive side of the ball, giving up just 18.6 points a game. They average nine tackles for loss and four sacks a game.

Two players to watch from the impressive defensive line are Sam McCaskill and Davis Moa. McCaskill has 23 tackles, including nine and a half tackles for loss and five sacks, while Moa has six tackles for loss and a team-leading five and a half sacks.

Jay Yeomans is a sports writer for DeseretNews.com. Contact him at jyeomans@deseretdigital.com.