With its 13-10 upset of 14th-ranked Arizona State, the BYU football team gladly rid itself of numerous proverbial back-riding monkeys.
The primate reference may be appropriate, since the Cougars soundly outplayed host ASU in front of a Sun Devil Stadium crowd of 62,376 Saturday night, despite seeming to monkey around with fumbles and missed and blocked field goals.Those monkeys no longer getting a free ride on BYU's back include: 1. an inability to win in Tempe since 1965; 2. an oh-fer winless record against the Pac-10 in nine previous games; 3. questions about the Cougar running game after a 2-yard net total in the season opener; 4. a recent absence in the national rankings; 5. quarterback controversies; 6. the need to fare well against top-notch nonconference competition to maintain colllege-football respect . . . and so on.
BYU's game-winner was Owen Pochman's 32-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the game - the only scoring play of the second half. Ironically, it came on a day when Pochman and most of the rest of the Cougars' special-team play was suspect at best. Other mishaps and miscues included a 15-yard punt and a total of four botched handlings of Sun Devil punts - one of which was fumbled away, setting up ASU's sole touchdown.
No matter. BYU has a week to work on its recent weaknesses. For now, they'll savor the victory. "In all of my years of coaching, I haven't been more proud of a group," said BYU coach LaVell Edwards, who downplayed the rare Pac-10 win and his first-ever Tempe triumph with statements such as, "I don't get hung up on that type of thing" and "We could have won down here a couple of years ago."
First things first: The Cougar quarterback question seems to be answered as BYU (1-1 overall) goes into Western Athletic Conference play next week at Southern Methodist. Kevin Feterik, who came in to relieve Paul Shoemaker in the second half of BYU's 42-20 season-opening loss to Washington, completed 17-of-30 passes for 328 yards. "He did a nice job and showed a lot of poise," said Edwards.
And Feterik has found a favorite target: Ben Cahoon hauled in eight passes - including several trademark acrobatic snags - for 209 yards.
The BYU defense halted Arizona State's much-ballyhooed rushing attack after the Sun Devils' tailback tandem of Michael Martin and J.R. Redmond both rushed for 100-plus yards against then-No. 13 Miami last week. This time, ASU (now 2-1) couldn't break triple digits as a team (92 yards total), and the Sun Devils couldn't pick away at the young, inexperienced Cougar secondary.
"I'm very pleased with the run defense," said Edwards. "Coming into the season, we thought our rundefense would be a force. We wanted to force them into throwing the ball more than they wanted to, and we accomplished that."
The Cougar defense held ASU quarterback Ryan Kealy to 12-of-29 passing for 153 yards.
BYU's scoring possession midway in the fourth quarter started deep in the Cougars' own territory, on the nine-yard line. Tailbacks Brian McKenzie (who finished with 112 yards on 23 carries) and Wil Snowden picked up all the positive yardage as BYU reached the 20. But a third-down holding call pushed the Cougars to the ASU 33 before a scrambling Feterik zipped a 19-yard pass to Cahoon to give Pochman his 32-yarder instead of a more difficult kick from back near midfield.
The Cougars closed off the Sun Devils offense in their final two possessions. An Andrew Nash pass deflection and a sack by freshman DB Roderick Foreman helped to halt the first drive, while the defensive pressure kept Kealy with only one completion and four misses in the final drive.
After the two teams played to a 10-10 draw through the first half, BYU threatened to score at the start and end of the third period.
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