He just has a knack for being able to find ways to get picks. It was nice to see. —BYU coach Kalani Sitake, on cornerback Dayan Ghanwoloku
STARKVILLE, Miss. — When BYU cornerback Dayan Ghanwoloku intercepted a pass from Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald in the end zone in the second quarter, and was staring at an open field in front of him, it appeared that might be the Cougars’ best chance all day for scoring a touchdown.
Ghanwoloku returned the ball 67 yards to the MSU 33-yard line after getting tackled by Fitzgerald, setting up the BYU offense.
“I was a little tired on that. I saw the open field and I thought, ‘I’m going to take it to the house,’” Ghanwoloku said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t go as I planned. I tried to follow my blocks. It is what it is.”
While Ghanwoloku didn't score, neither did the Cougar offense, which fumbled the ball away a few plays later.
Then in the third quarter, Ghanwoloku made another play, picking off Fitzgerald again deep in Cougar territory and returning it 38 yards to the BYU 43.
“It would have helpful if he could have gotten into the end zone a couple of times,” coach Kalani Sitake said. “That would have been nice.”
Fortunately for the Cougars, they scored their only touchdown of the game a few plays after Ghanwoloku's second interception when quarterback Tanner Mangum threw a 27-yard TD pass to Aleva Hifo in BYU's 35-10 loss to Mississippi State.
In all, Ghanwoloku's two picks were returned for 105 return yards. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound sophomore now has five career interceptions for 218 career interception yards — which is No. 5 in career interception return yards in BYU history.
This was Ghanwoloku's first career two-pick game.
“The picks that Dayan got were good coverage,” Sitake said. “He just has a knack for being able to find ways to get picks. It was nice to see. It was good to get some momentum through turnovers.”
“I saw two receivers go deep and the safety was up top. I stayed in the middle and let the quarterback choose and I broke off,” Ghanwoloku said of his interceptions. “They kind of ran the second play. On the second one, the tight end ran a post so I stayed up top.”
Ghanwoloku was disappointed to get tackled by Fitzgerald on the first interception but he's happy to have finished with two interceptions.
“It’s always bad getting tackled by the quarterback,” he said. “But he’s a big dude, he can run.”