GREENVILLE, N.C. — BYU’s passing game showed some signs of life for the first time in a long time Saturday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
But it wasn’t nearly enough in the Cougars’ 33-17 loss at East Carolina.
BYU rolled up a season-high 421 yards of total offense and 319 through the air.
The Cougars didn’t end their losing streak but they did snap a streak of 13 games without at least 200 yards passing against FBS competition.
Quarterback Tanner Mangum completed 26 of 41 passes with two touchdowns and one interception.
Throwing for more than 300 yards was a positive.
“We got in a tough spot where we couldn’t keep them off-balanced because we had to go more to the air, more so than the ground, because we were playing from behind,” said running back KJ Hall. “We’re definitely going to build on that.”
Still, even against the nation’s worst defenses, BYU’s offense couldn’t sustain enough drives and find the end zone.
BYU scored only two touchdowns, in the first and fourth quarters. ECU booted a school-record four field goals.
“The difference is, we didn’t get points on the scoreboard and they kicked field goals,” said coach Kalani Sitake.
Cougar wide receiver Aleva Hifo caught nine passes for 148 yards. He became BYU’s first 100-yard receiver since Mitch Mathews had 158 yards against Utah State in 2015.
“Aleva’s a baller. He got his confidence going early and that showed the rest of the game,” said wide receiver Micah Simon. “I love that dude. He played his heart out. He did a great job.”
INJURY UPDATE: The rash of injuries that has plagued BYU this season continued Saturday. Starting cornerback Troy Warner went down with an injury in the first quarter.
“Troy’s a stud. It’s a big loss for us,” said safety Zayne Anderson. “Someone needs to step up.”
Running backs Squally Canada, Kavika Fonua and Trey Dye did not play Saturday due to injuries.
GETTING PHYSICAL: What did Sitake think of his team’s performance from a physical standpoint against ECU?
“We had some good moments but it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “The O-line and D-line, that’s always been our strength that we thought we could have. We weren’t as dominating as we thought it would be tonight.”
ANOTHER BYU-ECU SERIES: BYU and East Carolina announced this week an additional home-and-home football series in the 2022 and 2024 seasons.
The first game is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2022, at LaVell Edwards Stadium with the second game on Oct. 19, 2024, at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
“We have enjoyed the opportunity to play teams from the American Athletic Conference, including the current series with East Carolina,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “ECU is a great matchup and it was an easy decision to schedule another series with them. It provides our team with a unique travel opportunity, and it gives Cougar fans who live in the Southeast another opportunity to see us play.”