BYU doesn't start its season until Saturday afternoon, but a few former Cougars got the football party started Thursday with some highlights of their own in NFL and CFL action.
Lasike finds the end zone
NFL rookie Paul Lasike scored his first pro touchdown, helping Arizona defeat Denver 22-20 at Sports Authority Field in Denver in the preseason finale for both teams. With the Cardinals trailing the Broncos 13-0 in the second quarter, Lasike ran a route to the right corner of the end zone and caught a four-yard pass from Arizona quarterback Phillip Sims in front of a pair of Denver defenders, as well as a teammate, for the score.
Joining Lasike in the backfield on the scoring play was former Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams, who laid a block for Sims on the touchdown pass. Williams had a touchdown of his own, scoring on a nine-yard run later in the game.
Lasike, who plays fullback for the Cardinals, joined the team as an undrafted free agent in May and also carried the ball twice for 10 yards in preseason action. According to a report early Friday from ESPN's Josina Anderson, though, Lasike will be cut by the Cardinals, as teams must trim their rosters to 53 players by a 2 p.m. MDT deadline Saturday.
It's been an emotional week for Lasike, whose daughter was born earlier this week.
Fua family reunion
Another Cougar rookie in the NFL, linebacker Alani Fua, had a family reunion of sorts when the Cardinals and Broncos met. Fua plays for Arizona, while his older brother, Sione Fua, plays for Denver.
Alani Fua came in as a substitute for the Cardinals and, trying to prove he should earn a spot on the 53-man roster, had an impressive outing with three tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass deflection.
Sione Fua started at nose tackle for the Broncos and had two tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.
Sorensen with another first
It's been a preseason of firsts for second-year safety Daniel Sorensen. After recording his first pro sack two weeks ago against Seattle, he had another big pro first Thursday in Kansas City's 24-17 win over St. Louis.
On the first possession of the game, the Rams faced a third-and-6 from their own 17 when St. Louis quarterback Nick Foles threw over the middle. The ball was tipped, and Sorensen came up with the shoestring interception at the St. Louis 34, returning the pick 26 yards inside the Rams' 10-yard line. He fumbled at the end of the play, but the Chiefs recovered and scored a touchdown two plays later.
Sorensen, looking to earn more playing time this season, earned the start at free safety in the preseason finale for the Chiefs, along with another former Cougar, nose tackle Hebron Fangupo. Sorensen finished with two tackles, including one on special teams, and also had a pass deflection, while Fangupo had two tackles and a tackle for loss.
Beck and Collie connect again
Former BYU offensive stars John Beck and Austin Collie, now playing for the CFL's BC Lions, were on the field together again Thursday night.
Beck, the backup quarterback to Travis Lulay, ended up playing the bulk of the game in the Lions' 25-16 victory over Montreal when Lulay went down with a knee injury in the first quarter. Beck finished the night completing 14-of-22 passes for 114 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Both touchdown passes came in the first half as the Lions built a 17-6 lead at the break. With 3:59 to go until halftime, Beck hit Collie, one of the team's top wide receivers, for an 11-yard touchdown pass. It capped a five-play, 75-yard drive and was the second time Beck has thrown a touchdown pass to Collie this season, including a 22-yard score on Aug. 15 against Hamilton.
Collie finished the game with three catches for 27 yards.
"(I'm) just glad to come out here and do my job," Beck told reporters after the game, according to the Lions, while also sharing his hope that Lulay can recover quickly from his injury. "The job of the backup is to step in and play, and the guys around me did a good job of rallying. I think we felt pretty comfortable out there.
"We'll see what happens, but it felt good to win."
'Unga leads Giants' defense
Former BYU linebacker Uani 'Unga continues to make a strong case for making the New York Giants' 53-man roster, as he led the team with eight tackles — including one on special teams — in the Giants' 12-9 preseason win over the Patriots on Thursday. He also had a pass deflection in the game.
'Unga, who signed with the team in late December after missing his first pro year while rehabbing a knee injury, has been on a tear in preseason action for New York, registering 25 tackles and three pass deflections in four games. His play even earned him a feature story from ESPN.
"I just hope this all works out," 'Unga told ESPN writer Ohm Youngmisuk. "I told my wife since I got hurt that we are just going to be in this no matter how long this takes. I am trying to get my shot and finally got it, and I hope it works out for the best."
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