He was always open. I wouldn’t say I was trying to go to Mitch…it was more the situations we were in. Mitch just happened to be the guy in those positions I felt like would be open. – Christian Stewart
PROVO — When an offense accumulates 601 yards, there’s sure to be at least some standout individual performances and even some records achieved. Such was the case for BYU Saturday night in a tough 42-35 loss to Nevada.
Leading the way was receiver Mitch Mathews, who caught 16 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. His 16 receptions were second in BYU football history to Jay Miller’s record of 22 accomplished in a game against New Mexico in 1973.
“Mitch played phenomenal,” said quarterback Christian Stewart. “He was always open. I wouldn’t say I was trying to go to Mitch … it was more the situations we were in. Mitch just happened to be the guy in those positions I felt like would be open.”
According to Mathews, he benefited from being lined up on the short side of the field, which led to a variety of prime opportunities.
“I found myself at the boundary a lot today, which gave me an opportunity to get a lot of short throws (and) quick throws,” Mathews said. “Christian (Stewart) looked for me today and did a really good job. He had a lot of critical throws that I wouldn’t have caught unless he put it in the perfect spot.”
Another standout Saturday was running back Nate Carter, who was thrust into action when starter Algernon Brown left the game early in the first quarter with a reported ankle sprain. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound junior responded with seven carries for 87 yards.
“It’s a dream come true,” Carter said. “I had the opportunity to play a little bit today and honestly I think the offensive line did a really good job to carry me.”
For several years, Carter, a walk-on, has battled through practices and scout team duty with no reward in playing time. His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by teammates, who expressed excitement that the Dixie High School product produced the way he did Saturday.
“I was pumped for Nate,” Stewart said. “Me and Nate have been on the scout team. He’s a really good friend and I was really happy to see him come in and he had some great plays. It’s just (a result) of the hard work that he’s put in.”
Carter was quick to credit his teammates along with his position coach Mark Atuaia for his performance.
“Coach (Atuaia) did a really good job preparing me for the week,” Carter said. “He criticized me a lot, but in a positive way.”
Although thrilled with his opportunity, Carter left the field with some bittersweet emotions. Sweet in that he was able to contribute, but bitter it had to come in a loss and at the expense of Brown suffering yet another ankle injury.
“It’s hard because I was super excited for the opportunity to play, but toward the end I wasn’t even thinking about that,” Carter said. “I was just trying to get the (win.) It’s tough when you love the guys so much and work so hard all week and then don’t come up with the win.”