It’s embarrassing how many turnovers we’re having out there. It’s on everyone. All you can do is go back to work. —BYU wide receiver Beau Tanner
LOGAN — Early in the second quarter at Maverik Stadium, almost everything seemed to be going BYU’s way Friday night against Utah State.
The Cougars led 21-7 and their beleaguered offense was showing signs of life for the first time this season.
But from there, BYU self-destructed and USU capitalized.
The Aggies overcame the 14-point deficit — they scored 26 unanswered points during one stretch — thanks to seven Cougar turnovers, and earned a dominating 40-24 victory before a crowd of 24,112.
It marked BYU’s fourth consecutive loss.
“Way, way too many errors for us to overcome and have a chance to win this game,” said Cougar coach Kalani Sitake. “It’s hard to win a game when you have seven turnovers.”
BYU (1-4) turned the ball over on six of nine possessions during the second and third quarters and USU (3-2) scored 26 points off of the seven takeaways.
“It’s embarrassing how many turnovers we’re having out there,” said wide receiver Beau Tanner. “It’s on everyone. All you can do is go back to work.”
On one of the possessions during that stretch that didn’t result in a turnover, BYU lost starting quarterback Beau Hoge to an injury.
Koy Detmer Jr. and Austin Kafentzis took snaps for the Cougars in place of Hoge. BYU simply made too many costly mistakes.
The turning point came in the second quarter when a Hoge pass bounced off a USU defender and into the hands of Jalen Davis, who scored on a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“It was a bad throw,” Sitake said. “We can’t make mistakes like that and expect to win. There were a lot of errors that were made. I’m the coach. I’ve got to fix it.”
That was the first of the Cougars’ seven turnovers.
Despite the flurry of miscues, BYU trailed by only six points, 27-21, going into the fourth quarter.
But the Aggies scored a touchdown on a 19-yard run by quarterback Kent Myers with 14:52 remaining that put USU up 33-21.
BYU responded by driving deep into USU territory. Running back Ula Tolutau scored on a 6-yard touchdown run that was nullified by a holding penalty. The Cougars settled for a field goal.
With three minutes remaining, Davis recorded a 50-yard pick six — his second of the game.
Tolutau ran 21 times for 105 yards but fumbled away the ball twice.
“I’m really disappointed. Our guys are disappointed,” Sitake said. “I was pleased with their effort. We need to find ways to win games.”
What was linebacker Fred Warner’s reaction to the offense’s seven turnovers?
“It’s something I can’t control. The defense can’t control that,” he said. “I’ve tried to be there for them. That’s all I can do right now, keep making myself better for my team and creating more opportunities for our offense.”
After the opening kickoff, Utah State promptly scored on a 75-yard drive, capped by a 32-yard touchdown pass from Myers to Dax Raymond.
On USU’s next possession, BYU’s first score came on a 46-yard pick-six by Micah Hannemann to tie the game at 7-7.
On the first play of the second quarter, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer pulled out a gadget play that worked beautifully. Kafentzis took the snap, who handed it to Micah Simon, who gave it to Hoge, who found Brayden El-Bakri for a 26-yard touchdown pass and the Cougars took their first lead of the game, and their first lead since the season opener against Portland State.
BYU struck again moments later when Tanner caught a diving, 40-yard catch in the end zone from Hoge to propel the Cougars to a 21-7 lead with 13:30 left in the quarter.
The Aggies’ next drive resulted in a blocked field goal by Corbin Kaufusi and BYU was in command.
But on BYU’s next offensive play, Hoge threw a pass that Davis picked out of the air. He scored to make it 21-14.
Then Hoge went down with an injury and did not return. He was replaced by Detmer Jr.
Tolutau had a fumble to end one drive and, later, center Tejan Koroma’s snap sailed past Detmer Jr. The quarterback recovered it at the BYU 1-yard line.
The Aggies subsequently scored on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Myers to Ron’quavion Tarver to tie the game at 21.
Aggie safety, and former Cougar, Dallin Leavitt, intercepted a Detmer Jr. pass, setting up a 32-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half. And USU took a 24-21 lead into intermission.
BYU hosts Boise State next Friday, while USU entertains Colorado State next Saturday.