BYU quarterback Ty Detmer gunned down an entire defensive secondary Saturday, adding to the trophies he collected in recent well-publicized hunting expeditions.
This foray was against New Mexico in Cougar Stadium, where Detmer passed for 464 yards as the Cougars destroyed the Lobos 55-31. And it wasn't that close.
Detmer completed 26 of 41 passes (63.4 percent), five for touchdowns, and ran for another TD - in less than three quarters of play.
Detmer didn't think he'd done anything fantastic, mind you. "I didn't do anything spectacular, just played and had a good time," he said.
Wide receiver Micah Matsuzaki had three touchdown receptions - his only catches of the day; Andy Boyce had a pair of TD catches among his nine receptions for 235 yards, a total that is most remarkable in that it isn't a single-game Cougar record; and Brent Nyberg had six catches for 139 yards.
Safety Derwin Gray was the defensive star, picking off three Lobo passes in his first start with the varsity. Gray previously had been the backup to Josh Arnold, but was given his first start in what appears to have been the coaching move of the season.
It didn't look like it would be this easy at the start. New Mexico quarterback Jeremy Leach, who has been in a slump lately, revived for this game and threw the ball well until he left the game with an injury in the third quarter.
On the Lobos' second drive, Leach hit Carl Winston for a 67-yard completion that was New Mexico's longest pass play of the season. It was also the longest completed pass against the Cougars this year. Three plays later Leach hit Eric Morgan in the end zone and the Lobos led, 7-0.
The Cougars, meanwhile, failed to score on their first two drives and appeared to be stopped on their third possession when a third-and-10 pass to Chris Smith fell incomplete. But a New Mexico defender was hit with a pass-interference flag on the play, and four plays later Detmer tossed to Matsuzaki to make it 7-7.
The Lobos scored on their next possession, with an eight-play drive that started with a 34-yard completion to Jerome Williams and ended with another Leach TD pass. The Lobos were up 14-7 and looking nothing like the team that got demolished by Colorado State last week.
"I wasn't surprised at how well New Mexico played at the start," BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said. "They played that way all year until the Colorado State game."
Besides, said Detmer, "We expect everyone to play their best against us."
The problem for the Lobos was that BYU wasn't through scoring. The Cougars' next drive went 77 yards in four plays, and featured one play in which Detmer dropped back to pass, had the ball knocked out of his hands, picked it up on the bounce and fired it to Stacey Corley for a 14-yard gain. The very next play was a 54-yard completion to Smith, and on the final play Detmer ran eight yards into the end zone himself.
The score was 14-14, but the Lobos were in trouble. They had come into this game promising to blitz often, but after the first couple possessions Detmer and the offensive line adjusted and picked up the blitzes easily. And all that defensive manpower rushing the quarterback meant open receivers, and Detmer didn't need a telescopic sight to find them.
"When they showed blitz, Ty picked it up and called audibles," Boyce said.
"It wasn't hard to figure when they were coming and when they weren't," Detmer added.
New Mexico Coach Mike Sheppard had also said that one of his team's goals was to "re-route" BYU receivers - bumping them off their normal routes. That didn't work, either.
"We've got a bunch of smart receivers here," Detmer said. "They know that if you're running into somebody you find somewhere else to go."
"One of Ty's reads that amazed me was on my long catch," said Boyce. "I was supposed to be in one spot, but I slid into another zone. Ty led me just right. There was no way anyone could stop that play."
Get the idea? The team's stats in the first quarter may have been nearly identical, but the trend was evident.The BYU defense picked it up a notch in the second quarter, giving up only one score on a 20-yard drive after a Detmer interception. The offense, meanwhile, scored everytime it didn't commit a turnover. Six possessions, one interception, one fumble, three touchdowns, and a field goal. The Lobos hurt themselves with a roughing-the-kicker penalty in the second quarter that kept a BYU drive alive, but it might be easier to consider that a big play if the score had been closer. As it was, it probably just made the inevitable happen a little sooner.
The half ended with BYU out front 38-21.
The third quarter was more of the same, as the Cougars proved that a punter is almost a redundancy. Detmer threw another interception in the period to end one possession, but the other three BYU drives ended in scores. With 5:22 left in the third, Detmer hit Matsuzaki in the end zone to make it 55-24 Cougars and Goodbye, Ty. Backup quarterback Joe Evans was called into the game at that point and played all but the last series, when freshman Brock Spencer from Clearfield got a chance to sample big-time college football. At least to hand off the ball as the Cougars ran out the clock.
The fourth quarter was mostly notable for the punting attempts of 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive tackle Brad Hunter, who relieved Joe Herrick, who had relieved Earl Kauffman. Hunter even outkicked Herrick, averaging 46.3 yards on three boots to Herrick's one punt of 35 yards.
Edwards was pleased with his team's performance, especially considering they had played only once in a month previously. "It will be nice now to start playing every week and get into a routine," he said.
If it gets any more routine, chalk up another WAC title.
Passing - Ty Detmer was 26 of 41 for 464 yards, 5 TDs and 2 interceptions. Joe Evans was 6 of 8 for 68 yards and Matt Bellini was 1 of 1 for 43 yards.
Receiving - Andy Boyce caught 9 passes for 235 yards and 2 TDs. Micah Matsuzaki caught 3 passes for 3 TDs.
Interceptions: New Mexico's Jeremy Leach threw 3, Ty Detmer threw 2, and BYU safety Derwin Gray caught 3.