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BYU notebook: Sione Takitaki turns in impressive performance in return to the field

PROVO — Playing in his first game in nearly two years, BYU junior defensive lineman Sione Takitaki made quite a splash in his return to the field.

Takitaki recorded seven tackles, two sacks and a tackle for loss in the Cougars’ 20-6 victory over Portland State Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“I thought he did good. He was disruptive,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “We played him a little bit at linebacker. He did some really good things as an outside linebacker and obviously his pass-rushing skills are nice. He did a really good job in the run game.”

Takitaki was suspended midway through the 2015 season and was sidelined for the entire 2016 campaign.

“It was a lot of fun seeing him make plays again,” linebacker Fred Warner said of Takitaki. “He brings a lot of energy, and he’s disruptive. You see it on the stat sheet — he had two sacks today. Teams are going to have to be aware of him.”

THE RUN GAME: Going into the season, BYU coaches said the running back reps would be done by committee.

Saturday, Squally Canada received the most carries, 16, and rushed for 98 yards, including a 34-yarder, and a touchdown. Kavika Fonua had seven carries for 63 yards, including a 34-yard run.

“He did some really good things. He had a great camp,” Sitake said of Canada. “Going into this season, he had more experience. We’re going to see a good mixture of those guys.”

KJ Hall had three carries and Ula Tolutau had one. Riley Burt did not play.

LINEUP SHUFFLE: Middle linebacker Butch Pau’u did not play Saturday, and Johnny Tapusoa started in his place. Tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau also did not play.

Sitake does not discuss injuries unless there is a season-ending injury.

“There’s a lot of guys that we were hoping that would play this week,” Sitake said. “We plan on having a lot of those guys back.”

Safety Micah Hannemann sat out of the first half Saturday as a result of his ejection from the second half of the Poinsettia Bowl last December. Tanner Jacobson started in place of Hannemann, who played in the second half.

EXTRA POINTS: BYU safety Zayne Anderson, who made his first start, had an interception late in the fourth quarter. … Cougar fullback Brayden El-Bakri made the first tackle of the season on opening kickoff. He scored BYU's first TD last season. … Portland State freshman Hayden Cowden’s second collegiate punt traveled 70 yards.