PROVO — Talk about a fitting Senior Night for BYU's football team.
The Cougars sent their 19 seniors out in style Saturday in their final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium with a 42-7 blowout of New Mexico State.
Underclassmen contributed plenty in this rout, with sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps leading the way. Heaps, filling in for the injured Riley Nelson, threw for four touchdowns and 238 yards on 21-for-36 passing in his first start in over a month.
Freshman Ross Apo hauled in two of those TD tosses while accumulating 66 yards receiving on nine receptions. Sophomore receiver JD Falslev had a touchdown reception as well.
But it was the Cougar seniors — and some unheralded ones at that — who stole the show as BYU improved to 8-3 with win over the 4-7 WAC foe.
Senior receiver Matt Marshall, the Cougars' holder, was inserted in the QB position for a wildcat play in the third quarter. The move worked brilliantly as he scrambled two yards for a touchdown, giving BYU a safe 28-7 lead.
Senior tight end Matthew Edwards, the grandson of LaVell Edwards, joined in on the scoring fun with a 3-yard TD catch later in the quarter during BYU's 35-0 scoring spurt.
Seniors JJ Di Luigi (75 yards rushing) and Bryan Kariya (one touchdown) also made an impact in the win.
In another nice senior moment, sophomore linebacker Kyle Van Noy wore No. 1 instead of his usual No. 3 as a tribute to injured and sidelined senior defensive standout Jordan Pendleton.
The Cougars started off a bit more slowly than expected, but finished strong to go up 21-7 at the half.
New Mexico State took the opening kick off and drove down to the BYU 36-yard line before BYU's Jadon Wagner forced a turnover blitzing from his outside linebacker position. Jameson Frazier recovered the fumble with 10:16 left in the first quarter.
The Cougar offense took advantage of the turnover and drove the ball 52 yards on 12 plays for the first score of the game. Bryan Kariya ran it in from four yards out to put BYU up 7-0 with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
New Mexico State responded with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Matt Christian to Austin Franklin to tie it at 7-7 with 9:40 left in the half. The Aggies were given a short field due to a Jake Heaps interception and drove the ball 38 yards in nine plays.
The Cougar offense responded immediately with Heaps capping off a 15-play 90-yard touchdown drive with a 20-yard TD pass to Ross Apo. The score put BYU up 14-7 with 3:25 left in the first half.
Apo finished off the second half with a second TD pass from nine yards out. BYU took advantage of a short field and drove the ball 46 yards in nine plays for the touchdown.
Heaps finished the half going 13-for-22 for 115 yards, and the Cougars outgained the Aggies 190 yards to 125.