On Labor Day night, BYU’s offensive and defensive lines, and the Cougar running backs, got some serious work done at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. 

While there were no fans in attendance in Annapolis, Maryland, to see it, due to the global pandemic, BYU still made plenty of noise in front of a national television audience, on ESPN, in college football’s first marquee matchup of the 2020 season. 

BYU boat-raced the Midshipmen 55-3 in large measure by exerting physical dominance in the trenches. 

It’s the most points the Cougars have scored in a season-opener since putting up 70 points against Tulane in 2001. 

“I’m pleased with the leadership on this team. I told the guys I was going to let loose and have fun tonight. All the coaching took place already. I wanted to see them lead and take over the game and they did,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “It was an awesome sight to see as a head coach. ... Against a good, physical team like Navy, we challenged our team to be physical. I’m glad that showed up. ... Our guys played out of their minds tonight.”

BYU finished with 580 yards of total offense, including 301 on the ground, while the Midshipmen, who averaged a nation’s-best 360 rushing yards per game a year ago, ended up with just 149.

“We had a really good game plan and we played our ‘A’ game,” said BYU linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa, a Navy transfer that led the Cougars with eight tackles.

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How dominant were the Cougars? BYU scored on eight of its first nine drives and didn’t punt until the fourth quarter after emptying its bench. The Cougars ran through big holes and broke a slew of tackles against Navy’s porous defense from beginning to end.

“We put it on the offensive line,” said BYU guard Tristen Hoge. “We had some great plays by our guys in the backfield.” 

Quarterback Zach Wilson completed 13 of 18 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Running backs Tyler Allgeier (14 carries, 132 yards) and Lopini Katoa (10 rushes for 80 yards) and Jackson McChesney (11 carries, 56 yards) combined for six TDs. Wide receiver Gunner Romney recorded four catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. 

“If you can get the running game going, everything else will get going. Credit to the O-line. They opened up the game for us.” — Lopini Katoa

“If you can get the running game going, everything else will get going,” said Katoa. “Credit to the O-line. They opened up the game for us.”

BYU wasted little time setting the tone. The Cougar defense forced a punt on the game’s opening possession and then the offense scored on seven plays — aided by a Navy facemask penalty — capped by a 34-yard run by Allgeier to make it 7-0.

Katoa was happy to see Allgeier shine.

“I always knew what Tyler could do and I was happy to see him show it tonight,” he said. 

After a three-and-out by the Midshipmen, the Cougars scored again on a 39-yard run by Katoa as part of a three-play series.

In what was one of BYU’s few mistakes of the first half, Wilson threw an interception late in the first quarter. But the Cougars struck again early in the second quarter when Katoa caught a 15-yard TD pass from Wilson to make it 21-0 for BYU. 

At that point, the Cougars had 200 yards of total offense while limiting Navy to 21.

Scoring summary:
BYU 55, Navy 3

First quarter

BYU, Tyler Allgeier 34-yard run (10:07), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Lopini Katoa 39-yard run (7:16), Jake Oldroyd kick

Second quarter

BYU, Lopini Katoa 15-yard pass from Zach Wilson (13:31), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Jake Oldroyd 22-yard field goal (5:00)

BYU, Lopini Katoa 1-yard run (0:08), Jake Oldroyd kick

Third quarter

BYU, Gunner Romney 45-yard pass from Zach Wilson (13:05), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Tyler Allgeier 17-yard run (7:10), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Jake Oldroyd 34-yard field goal (3:09)

Navy, Bijan Nichols 48-yard field goal (0:54)

Fourth quarter

BYU, Jackson McChesney 9-yard run (7:26), Jake Oldroyd kick

Later, the Cougars manufactured a time-consuming drive that resulted in a 22-yard field goal by Jake Oldroyd. The series took 11 plays, covered 43 yards and took 6:36 off the game clock. With five minutes left in the first half, BYU led 24-0. 

But the Cougars weren’t done. BYU’s final drive of the half ended, with eight seconds remaining on the clock, on a one-yard run by Katoa. 

At halftime, the Cougars were up 31-0.

Almost as impressive as the score, BYU rolled up 304 yards of total offense at intermission, compared to 48 yards for Navy. 

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It got so ugly that in the second half, ESPN’s broadcast team interviewed New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick — as the Cougars added a couple more third-quarter touchdowns, a 45-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Romney and a 17-yard run by Allgeier to make it 45-zip. 

It may have been the longest interview Belichick has ever granted in his life. 

BYU increased its advantage to 48-0 on a 34-yard field goal by Oldroyd. With 54 seconds left in the third quarter, Navy avoided a shutout by kicking a 48-yard field goal.

McChesney closed out the scoring with a nine-yard touchdown run with 7:26 left in the game. 

BYU (1-0) visits Army (1-0) on Sept. 19.

“I can’t wait to build off of this,” Sitake said.