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BYU football: Isaac Rex records two more TD catches, is tied for nation’s lead among tight ends with 8

Freshman tight end Isaac Rex caught two touchdown passes in BYU’s 66-14 win over North Alabama on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium

BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake, center, walks onto the field with his team after the Cougars defeated North Alabama in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.
BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake, center, walks onto the field with his team after the Cougars defeated North Alabama in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

PROVO — North Alabama’s defensive back had no chance.

Zach Wilson lofted a short, fourth-down pass to the end zone in the northeast corner of LaVell Edwards Stadium, and 6-foot-6 tight end Isaac Rex easily plucked the football out of the air as one of the overmatched Lions tried desperately to knock it away.

Touchdown Cougars.

It was Rex’s second TD catch of the day, and it gave BYU a five-touchdown lead in an eventual 66-14 win that improved the No. 8 Cougars’ record to 9-0 and further helped fans realize that Rex is quite likely the next great tight end at a school that has produced many.

“Yeah, I think it is kind of at the point now where we know Isaac Rex is a legit guy,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “But we have been saying that for awhile now.”

Rex put BYU on the board with a 2-yard TD grab on the Cougars’ first possession, and finished with three catches for 20 yards and two TDs. He now has eight TD catches and is tied for fourth in the country in that category, after entering the game tied for 16th with BYU receiver Dax Milne and 10 others. Milne caught four passes for 101 yards Saturday, but didn’t get into the end zone.

Any fears that BYU’s offense would struggle a bit this season when All-America candidate Matt Bushman sustained a season-ending Achilles injury a few days before the season-opening 55-3 win over Navy have been erased by Rex’s emergence.

Now the returned missionary from San Clemente, California, is looking like a shoo-in for freshman all-America honors, maybe even the whole enchilada. No tight end in the country has more TD catches than Rex; Florida’s Kyle Pitts, the favorite to win the John Mackey Award as the top tight end in the country, also has eight.

“We have been saying all along we felt really good about Isaac’s skill, and the skill of Dax and Gunner (Romney) and Neil (Pau’u),” Sitake said. “We knew we were going to be good. It was just a matter of letting them out there to make plays. That’s all.”

Wilson has said, even when Bushman was lost for the season, that he has all the confidence in the world in Rex, the son of former Cougar great Byron Rex, who was also a tight end.

“Isaac has great ball skills and he is really big,” Sitake said. “I like what I have seen from our tight ends group.”

Fellow freshman tight end Carter Wheat had one catch, for 25 yards.

It was the third time this season that Rex has recorded two TDs in a single game. Byron Rex had seven TD catches his entire career at BYU, and he was an All-American.

The Cougars’ 42 points topped the 35-point outputs in the first halves against Texas State and Western Kentucky.

Running back Tyler Allgeier also had a big game, rushing for 141 yards on 13 carries to pass his season and career-high, which was 132 against Navy. Allgeier has had four games of more than 100 rushing yards this season.

“Give a lot of credit to our offensive coaches,” Sitake said. “I think we are playing good team football, complementary football. With the mindset of our team and our coaches and the philosophy of our program we are utilizing the skill that we have, and our strengths, and trying to make plays and trying to put as many points on the board as we can.”