We hate losing. It's tough when you work so hard for a victory and you don't play well enough. We didn't execute the way we should have. —Tanner Mangum
PROVO — Even the return of quarterback Tanner Mangum couldn’t end BYU’s abysmal losing streak.
Boise State overcame an early deficit and handed the Cougars a 24-7 setback Friday night before a crowd of 59,753 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
It marks the first time BYU has suffered five consecutive losses since 1970. It's the Cougars' first 1-5 start since 1973.
Mangum, wearing a heavily taped left ankle, started for the first time in nearly one month and he completed 8 of his first 9 attempts as BYU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.
But Mangum completed only 10 of 24 passes the rest of the way as the Cougar offense continued to flounder. On the night, Mangum was 18 of 33 for 164 yards and two interceptions.
"It seemed like he was connecting on all of his throws (early on)," coach Kalani Sitake said of Mangum. "As the game went along he made some bad reads and the interceptions didn't help. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. It's not good enough."
"It's really frustrating," Mangum said. "We hate losing. It's tough when you work so hard for a victory and you don't play well enough. We didn't execute the way we should have."
With a little more than 2 minutes remaining, freshman Joe Critchlow, whom coaches had planned to redshirt this season, made his collegiate debut for BYU.
"We just wanted to see what Joe could do and get a spark going," Sitake said about putting Critchlow into the game. Critchlow completed 2 of 4 passes for eight yards.
Meanwhile, BSU (3-2) scored 24 unanswered points over the final three quarters.
The Broncos finished with 300 yards of total offense while the Cougars picked up 238.
BSU quarterback Brett Rypien completed 12 of 19 passes for 195 yards and an interception and running back Alexander Mattison had 29 carries for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
BYU gained 66 yards on the ground.
"We weren't able to run the ball and they were," Sitake said.
Penalties, mistakes and missed opportunities doomed BYU.
"We had too many errors," Sitake said. "We're going to go back to work and try to fix it."
Trailing 17-7 midway through the third quarter, defensive lineman Kesni Tausinga tipped a Rypien pass that was momentarily picked off by defensive lineman Merrill Taliauli, but he dropped the ball. Had Taliauli held onto the ball, the Cougars would have had the ball in BSU territory.
After BYU punted again, Boise State responded with a 16-play, 82-yard drive that ate 6:41 off the clock to lift the Broncos to a 24-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Later, a 34-yard pass from Mangum to Micah Simon was negated by a holding penalty. On the same series, BYU went for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield. Mangum’s long pass to Jonah Trinnaman fell incomplete.
With about five minutes remaining, Mangum threw his second interception of the night.
BYU opened the game in impressive fashion as linebacker Grant Jones picked off Rypien, giving the Cougars the ball at the Boise State 48-yard line.
BYU took advantage of the takeaway with a drive the culminated with a three-yard touchdown run by Ula Tolutau. The Cougars dodged a bullet when tight end Matt Bushman fumbled after a reception, which was recovered by the Broncos. Officials ruled he was down before the fumble and a long review upheld the call.
Magnum looked sharp on his first drive in almost a month — completing 4 of 4 passes for 31 yards.
Leading 7-0, BYU’s defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back. On third-and-10 from their own 29, a Beau Tanner catch gave the Cougars a first down. But a block in the back call nullified the gain and BYU ended up punting. Then Jonny Linehan’s punt only traveled 22 yards and gave BSU the ball at the BYU 48.
Those miscues — a penalty and a shanked punt — set up the Broncos’ first score. Alexander Mattison capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.
Later in the period, the Cougars had good field position in BSU territory, after Linehan pinned the Broncos at their own 3-yard line.
But on first down, Mangum threw an interception, with Boise State’s Kekoa Nawhine returning it 51 yards.
Five plays later, the Broncos took their first lead of the game, 10-7, on a 20-yard field goal by Haden Hoggarth.
BYU punted on its next possession. With 36 seconds left in the first half, Rypien connected with Sean Modster on a 24-yard touchdown pass and the Broncos took a 17-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
BYU travels to Mississippi State next Saturday.