It was awesome. It was an experience I’ll never forget to have my family here and to share a moment. It’s something I’ll remember forever. —BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy
RENO, Nev. — For BYU senior Kyle Van Noy, playing in his final regular-season collegiate game in his hometown was memorable.
“It was awesome,” he said after the Cougars’ 28-23 win over Nevada. “It was an experience I’ll never forget to have my family here and to share a moment. It’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Van Noy had hundreds of people in the stands at Mackay Stadium to support him. He spoke at the team’s fireside Friday night, then greeted friends and family members after the game.
“It was a cool experience,” he said. “I was happy to be a part of it. I was excited to play in front of friends and family, some that couldn’t travel to Utah for a game. To play in front of family is awesome.”
After Nevada cut the deficit to 28-23 with 2:42 remaining, the Wolf Pack tried a two-point conversion that was stopped when Van Noy intercepted Cody Fajardo’s pass in the end zone.
“I was just trying to make a play,” Van Noy said.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he’s been trying to help Van Noy deal with the bright spotlight that’s been on him this week and this season.
“I’m not sure anyone can imagine the attention, and pressure and exposure on him,” the coach said. “I’m trying to downplay it as much as possible. But teams do a nice job accounting for him. His ability just keeps increasing. We’re trying to support and help him to just be a college football player and play. But he’s earned that because he’s a really good player and he’s earned that. He wanted to win this bad.”
PENALTY FEST: The Cougars were penalized 14 times for 142 yards against Nevada. Penalties especially hurt BYU in the first half.
“It felt like we’d have a big play, then a penalty. Those were drive killers,” said quarterback Taysom Hill. “Penalties had a lot to do with it and we didn’t play very disciplined. We can’t put that on the refs. We need to play disciplined. In the second half, we did that.”
Mendenhall said the penalties got into his players’ heads.
“What bothers me is (the players) want to use that as an excuse as why we’re not having success,” Mendenhall said. “We’re responsible for the penalties. Rather than feeling like they were imposed on us, I felt like we were reactionary to the penalties rather than taking charge and playing better and cleaner. We made it hard on ourselves.”
BYU’S IRONMAN: Senior nose tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna now holds the BYU all-time record of games played with 55. The previous record was held by David Futrell (1984-87), who played in 53.
Manumaleuna went down with a shoulder sprain in the first half and did not return to the game.
INJURY UPDATE: BYU continued to be decimated by injuries Saturday.
Aside from Manumaleuna, JD Falslev missed part of the first half after feeling pain in his broken hand. He received X-rays, but they were negative and he was cleared to return to action. Falslev ended up catching a second-half touchdown.
Meanwhile, cornerback Robertson Daniel went out with a neck sprain and did not return. He intercepted his first pass as a Cougar in the first half.
FIRST START: Freshman Michael Davis made his first career start for BYU at field corner in place of Skye PoVey, who is done for the year after reinjuring his foot. PoVey was injured during the week.
SENIORITIS: Prior to the game, Nevada honored its 17 seniors. It marked the third consecutive senior day game for BYU. The Cougars had their own on Nov. 16 against Idaho State, followed by senior day at Notre Dame and Nevada.
BYU VS. MOUNTAIN WEST: BYU is 9-2 vs. current Mountain West Conference teams since becoming independent.
EXTRA POINTS: Cody Hoffman extended his streak to 42 straight games with a pass reception. BYU now has 12 interceptions as a team in 2013, matching its 13-game total from last year. Defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi recorded back-to-back sacks in the first half. BYU has allowed its opponents to score on its opening drive four times this year (Middle Tennessee, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Nevada). BYU is now 72-11 under Mendenhall when allowing 24 points or less.