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3 takeaways from No. 25 BYU’s wild 66-49 victory over Virginia

SHARE 3 takeaways from No. 25 BYU’s wild 66-49 victory over Virginia
Brigham Young Cougars running back Tyler Allgeier (25) jumps over Virginia Cavaliers free safety Joey Blount (29).

Brigham Young Cougars running back Tyler Allgeier (25) jumps over Virginia Cavaliers free safety Joey Blount (29) as BYU and Virginia play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

What an exhausting game.

It was expected that BYU’s game against Virginia Saturday night — and the homecoming for former Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall — could turn into an offensive shootout. 

That expectation was clearly understated, as the two teams combined for 1,322 yards of total offense and the most combined points (80) during the first half of an FBS game this season.

In the end, though, the No. 25 Cougars’ 66-49 victory over Virginia showed these three key takeaways:  

Tyler Allgeier is a beast … again

BYU sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier has reset his career high in single-game rushing yards multiple times this season, and he did so again on Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Allgeier ran for a career-best 266 yards and five touchdowns — tying a BYU single-game record for rushing scores — while also passing the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He now has 1,127 rushing yards in 2021. 

Allgeier had 192 of his rushing yards in the second half, helping the Cougars rally for the win after they led 21-0 at one point. Allgeier scored three of his touchdowns after halftime, including two in the fourth quarter that helped BYU score the final 21 points of the game.

Two of his rushing touchdowns were over 30 yards — from 31 and 49 yards in the second half.

Allgeier averaged 9.2 yards per carry on his 29 carries, and he helped spark a BYU offense that rolled up 385 rushing yards and 734 total yards of offense.   

Role players make big plays

Guys like Allgeier and BYU quarterback Jaren Hall had their moments in the spotlight Saturday, which was warranted considering the Cougars put up 66 points, 31 more points than their previous season high of 35 against South Florida.

Hall threw for a career-high 349 passing yards and three touchdowns with a 165.4 QB rating, and he rushed for 42 yards and another touchdown in a big night. 

There were plenty of other guys, role players, who deserve praise for making important plays against the Cavaliers, too.

Two linebackers made key interceptions against Brennan Armstrong, Virginia’s quarterback who led the nation in passing yards going into the game. Payton Wilgar intercepted Armstrong in the first quarter, while Drew Jensen made his pick in the fourth, and both of those turnovers led to BYU touchdowns. 

Samson Nacua also had his breakout game as a Cougar. After transferring to BYU during the offseason with his brother Puka, Samson Nacua made his three receptions count against Virginia.

He finished with a season-high 107 receiving yards and a touchdown, including two receptions on BYU’s opening drive that led to a touchdown, and he scored on a 40-yard reception just before halftime that briefly gave the Cougars a 38-35 lead.  

Senior defensive lineman Uriah Leiataua made the momentum-changing play of the game, though, early in the fourth quarter.

Moments after the Cougars recaptured the lead at 52-49 on a Neil Pau’u touchdown, Leiataua forced Virginia’s Wayne Taulapapa to fumble at the Virginia 31, and Leiataua recovered the ball.

Two plays later, Allgeier scored on a 31-yard run, and the Cougars led again by double-digits.

BYU’s defense needed a reset, then it came up big

The Cougar defense knew it faced a big challenge in Armstrong and a Virginia offense averaging more than 40 points per game. BYU met that challenge early, forcing the Cavaliers into no points on their first three possessions — two punts and an interception.

BYU then gave up touchdowns to Virginia on six straight possessions, and in uncharacteristic ways. The Cougars rarely have been burned for long scoring plays this season, but in the second quarter, Virginia scored touchdowns on plays of 40, 70, 49, 30 and 12 yards. BYU gave up 367 yards in that quarter alone.

The Cougars, though, found ways to slow down the Cavaliers in the second half and gave up just one touchdown after the break.

Virginia went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, and then after a touchdown that put the Cavaliers up 49-45, BYU stopped them on their final three possessions.

The Cougars forced two turnovers (the Leiataua fumble recovery and Jensen interception) and a turnover on downs with backup quarterback Jay Woolfolk in the game after Armstrong left with an injury midway through the quarter. 

While giving up 49 points is a tough pill to swallow, the Cougar defense can hang its hat on making some timely plays as well.