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3 takeaways from No. 14 BYU’s tougher-than-expected win over Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern running back Amare Jones (5) is tackled by BYU linebacker Ben Bywater (33).
Georgia Southern running back Amare Jones (5) is tackled by BYU linebacker Ben Bywater (33) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Statesboro, Ga.
Paul Abell, Associated Press

It took a while for No. 14 BYU to get going, but the Cougars picked up their ninth victory of the season Saturday.

One week after its lone bye week, BYU overcame a second-quarter deficit before grinding out a 34-17 victory over Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Georgia.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

BYU looked rusty at times

The Cougars looked like they were coming off a bye during stretches, particularly in the first half.

BYU built an early 14-3 lead only to see Georgia Southern respond by scoring back-to-back touchdowns to take a 17-14 advantage.

During that stretch, the Eagles attempted an onside kick that nearly went their way. While it went BYU’s way, the play was emblematic of the lackadaisical struggles the Cougars endured at times in the first half.

Logan Wright’s two second-quarter touchdowns gave Georgia Southern some hope, and the Eagles made things interesting in the third quarter for a time, but the Cougars made enough plays to earn the win.

Cougars respond well after going down

It took some time, but BYU found ways to power past Georgia Southern.

Thankfully for the Cougar offense, Jake Oldroyd hit a pair of field goals after the Eagles went up 17-14 to give BYU a 20-17 halftime lead.

In the second half, the Cougars outscored the Eagles 14-0. BYU scored on the opening possession of the third quarter, capping a 78-yard drive with a 1-yard Tyler Allgeier touchdown.

Then in the fourth quarter, BYU extended that lead to a game-high 17 points when Puka Nacua, who had five receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Jaren Hall to put the Cougars in control.

Hall completed 17 of 29 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

BYU’s defense settled in

Georgia Southern was able to move the ball on the Cougars early on, and that helped the Eagles take their brief lead in the game.

In the third quarter, Georgia Southern again had a promising drive going before Jakob Robinson picked off an errant pass in the BYU red zone.

Robinson then intercepted the Eagles’ Connor Cigelske on Georgia Southern’s first drive of the fourth quarter, and that led to BYU’s final touchdown.

Robinson’s timely takeaways provided the lift BYU needed to finish off the game on a day when the Cougar defense bent but did not break for the most part.

BYU held the Eagles to 268 yards of total offense in the game.