ORLANDO, Fla. — Even before Thursday’s game against Central Florida, injuries had taken a big toll on the BYU football program.
Then at Bright House Networks Stadium, things went from bad to worse for the Cougars.
Quarterback Taysom Hill suffered a season-ending leg injury last week against Utah State, and a few other players sustained injuries against the Aggies.
Against UCF, the Cougars lost three starters to injuries in the first half alone.
Running back Jamaal Williams carried the ball on BYU’s first play from scrimmage and did not return after sustaining an ankle injury.
Cornerback Jordan Johnson was carted off the field at the end of the game’s first drive and went to a local hospital for X-rays on his right arm. A few plays later, safety Craig Bills went out with a concussion on a punt return when he was accidentally hit by teammate Kevin O’Mary, the long-snapper.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Nick Kurtz, a junior college transfer who joined the program last January, will apply for a medical redshirt, coach Bronco Mendenhall said Thursday.
Kurtz suffered a fractured foot during fall camp and came back for the USU game. However, he suffered a setback against the Aggies and will not play the rest of the season.
Cougar offensive lineman Brayden Kearsley (ankle) and wide receiver Terenn Houk (neck), linebacker Alani Fua (ankle) and safety Dallin Leavitt (ankle) did not play against Central Florida.
Freshman Fred Warner earned his first start in place of Fua, while Bills was replaced by sophomore Kai Nacua.
Michael Alisa, who sustained a minor head injury against USU, played Thursday.
In Williams' absence, Algernon Brown and Paul Lasike carried the rushing load for BYU.
BACK IN THE TIGHT END BUSINESS: BYU senior tight end Devin Mahina had four catches for 34 yards going into Thursday’s game.
Against UCF, Mahina caught back-to-back touchdown passes in the third quarter that gave the Cougars a 24-10 advantage.
EXTRA POINTS: Michael Davis started in place of Robertson Daniel at cornerback Thursday. Skye PoVey started at safety in place of the injured Leavitt. BYU beat UCF in the two schools’ first-ever meeting in 2011, 24-17. The flag bearers Thursday were defensive lineman Travis Tuiloma (team), kicker Trevor Samson (special teams) and Brad Smith (alumni). Smith was a BYU defensive lineman from 1980-84. Temperature at kickoff was 77 degrees with 85 percent humidity. Punter Scot Arellano had a 58-yard punt and a 59-yarder in the first half, and a 58-yarder in the second, giving him 11 punts of at least 50 yards this season.