PROVO — After watching nose tackle Romney Fuga suffer a leg injury in the first half of Saturday's 27-13 loss to Nevada, BYU defensive lineman Vic So'oto decided to pay tribute to his fallen teammate.
At halftime, So'oto removed his No. 37 jersey and donned Fuga's No. 98.
"It was a symbol for my buddy," So'oto explained. "He's probably the best player on the defense. And seeing somebody like that go down on a play like that kind of hurts the morale of the team. You've got to play on. I talked to him and I decided to put his jersey on."
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall wasn't happy about the hit on Fuga that caused the injury.
"I thought it was not a positive football play," he said. "It was away from the play and it was below the waist and to me it looked like it was from behind."
Fuga, who was hobbling around on crutches, will undergo an MRI on his leg today, Mendenhall said.
So'oto finished the game with four tackles and in the fourth quarter, he picked off Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, returning it 14 yards.
RUGBY PUNT EXPERIMENT: BYU redshirt freshman J.D. Falslev entered the game early in the second quarter on fourth-down-and-8 instead of regular punter Riley Stephenson. Falslev's punt went off the side of his foot, and landed out of bounds, traveling only two yards.
Mendenhall explained that the play didn't go as planned.
"It was something we've worked on all week. It was a rugby-style punt. We were hoping (Nevada) would have a soft edge and we might be able to scramble for the first down. If not, then (Falslev) was going to kick it. He kicked the ball very well all week. Obviously, as you saw, the ball came off his foot. Easy to second-guess now — that was a poor decision. But I had a lot of confidence in him and I trusted him. It was my call. I thought it had a great chance to work."
FIRST-TIME STARTERS: BYU quarterback Jake Heaps made his first career start Saturday. It was also the second time a true freshman started at quarterback. The first was when Drew Miller accomplished the feat in 1997. Heaps completed 24-of-44 passes for 229 yards — all career highs.
Heaps wasn't the only Cougar who made his first start Saturday. Strong safety Zeke Mendenhall also made his first start and he made an immediate impact, causing a key fumble in the first half. BYU capitalized on the turnover, scoring its first touchdown of the game. Mendenhall replaced Steven Thomas in the lineup. Thomas suffered a concussion last week at Florida State.
STREAK'S OVER: The announced attendance was 61,471, ending BYU's home sellout streak at 19 games.
Also, before failing to score inside the red zone in the third quarter, BYU had scored on all nine red-zone opportunities this season.
FLAG-BEARERS: Wide receiver McKay Jacobson carried out the "Y" flag prior to Saturday's game. Former BYU wide receiver Danny Plater (1978-81), a native of Reno, Nev., carried out the alumni flag.
EXTRA POINTS: Safety Andrew Rich tied his career-high for single-game tackles with 14 ... Placekicker Mitch Payne booted two field goals converting from 27 and 29 yards, respectively. Payne has never missed a field goal of 30 yards or less in his career, hitting all 20 of his attempts from that range.
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