Senior day couldn't have played out any better for the BYU Cougars as they picked up a 52-13 win over the Idaho Vandals Saturday night. Riley Nelson tossed three touchdowns to go with 236 yards on 19 of 31 passing to spearhead a potent offensive attack that racked up 537 yards of offense. Nelson also picked up 49 yards rushing to add to his scrambling legacy with Cougar fans.
Nelson's early success meant senior James Lark would have a chance to play for the final time in LaVell Edwards Stadium. Lark efficiently ran out the clock to get the Cougars bowl eligible for the the eighth straight year with an invite to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Calif. Lark completed six of eleven passes for 49 yards and a touchdown, putting an exclamation point on his career at BYU.
From the oldest 25 year old senior down to the youngest freshman, the Cougar offense was hitting on all cylinders in the frigid November air. Jamaal Williams, the 17 year old from California, looked like a seasoned veteran, carrying the ball 10 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
If there was any doubt Cody Hoffman is Nelson favorite target, that went out the window Saturday night. Hoffman snagged nine passes for 108 yards and added three more touchdowns to his season total.
Although the Vandals actually scored points on offense, a feat the likes of Washington State, Hawaii, Georgia Tech and Boise State couldn't pull off, the defense was dominant once again. In the final seconds of the first quarter, the Vandals had a snap go over their quarterback's head that bounced right into the hands of Spencer Hadley for a touchdown, effectively neutralizing the one touchdown the Vandals managed to score.
Bronco Mendenhall's top ranked defense took care of business and manhandled the nations lowest ranked offense, winning the turnover battle 5-2. The Cougars picked off Logan Bushnell twice and fell on three fumbles, giving the offense all the time they would need to build a solid lead.
The defensive unit held the Vandals to 14 plays on their first three drives, getting the ball back to the offense each time, and the offense scored on each of their first three drives, effectively putting the game out of reach. After a touchdown for Idaho and a defensive stop, it looked for a moment like the Vandals could start to gain momentum and chip away at the Cougars lead.
As quickly as hope appeared, it dissipated with a bad snap that turned into a defensive touchdown and BYU slammed the brakes on the Vandal's comeback attempt as it built up a 42-7 lead and put the final nail in the coffin before the half ended.
Justin Sorensen added a chip-shot, 21-yard field goal to cap off the scoring for the Cougars at 52-10. The Vandals picked up three points as time ran out after JD Falslev fumbled a punt. With six second left, Idaho kicked a field goal to end on a positive note.
A well rested Cougar squad will leave the snow behind and head to California to take on the Spartans of San Jose State next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company