BYU football: Kyle Van Noy scores 2 touchdowns to lead BYU to victory in Poinsettia Bowl (+video)
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SAN DIEGO — Offense? Offense? Who needs an offense when you have all-everything, do-everything linebacker Kyle Van Noy?
While BYU struggled moving the ball and scoring points, Van Noy, who spearheaded another strong Cougar defensive effort Thursday night, pretty much took matters into his own hands and took control of the defensive slugfest in the fourth quarter.
In what could have been his final game in a BYU uniform, Van Noy scored two touchdowns in the Cougars' come-from-behind 23-6 Poinsettia Bowl victory over San Diego State before a crowd of 35,422 at Qualcomm Stadium.
It marked BYU's fourth consecutive bowl victory and its sixth straight win over SDSU.
Early in the fourth quarter, BYU trailed, 6-3, before Van Noy burst around the corner and drilled SDSU quarterback Adam Dingwell in the end zone, forcing a fumble. Van Noy pounced on the ball for a touchdown, giving the Cougars their first lead in the Poinsettia Bowl, 10-6. It was the beginning of a 20-point, fourth-quarter onslaught.
"It happened to land in my lap. I'm grateful that it did," Van Noy said. "We were talking about how someone needed to cause a turnover. All 11 guys were working as a unit. I just happened to get lucky and make the play."
And if that wasn't enough, Van Noy scored another TD with 6:09 left on a pick-six, returning an interception 17 yards into the end zone. And by the way, he also recorded a blocked punt in the third quarter.
Of course, Van Noy didn't act alone. Once again, just like they had all season, the Cougars (8-5) relied on their defense to keep them in the game.
"You can count on them for everything," said freshman running back Jamaal Williams. "You know they're going to come out and do what they do. They're the key reason why we won."
Van Noy was named the game's defensive MVP, while wide receiver Cody Hoffman earned offensive MVP honors after catching 10 passes for 114 yards.
Meanwhile, senior punter Riley Stephenson was BYU's special teams MVP after he booted six punts inside SDSU's 20-yard line, including three that landed at the 5-yard line, the 1-yard line and 2-yard line.
"Our punting game, I think, ended up making the difference," said coach Bronco Mendenhall.
"When you're inside the 50, you have to drop it down in the corner and hope it stays inside the 10," Stephenson said. "It's not much of a kick, but look what it did tonight."
Van Noy, a junior, could skip his senior year and declare himself eligible for next spring's National Football League Draft.
"He's a playmaker. He's an athlete. He's intelligent," outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga said of Van Noy. "That's what allowed him to make those plays. It was phenomenal. I hope we get him back, but I don't think it's going to happen, personally. It was a great performance by him. And if it's his last one as a Cougar, that's the way he'd want to go out. He's going to missed if he decides to leave. If he does, I don't blame him."
After Van Noy's fumble recovery TD, Dingwell fumbled a snap that was recovered by Jordan Johnson. One play later, Williams ran 14 yards for a touchdown to give BYU a 16-6 advantage.
Prior to Van Noy's first touchdown, SDSU (9-4) came up with a turnover on an interception on a deflected pass to Hoffman that was caught at the SDSU 3-yard line.
BYU's defense came to the rescue again.
In all, there were three consecutive turnovers by both teams in a matter of seconds. But the Aztecs' proved to be more costly.
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