FRESNO, Calif. — Trying to claim a road victory for the first time in almost one year, BYU put itself in position to beat Fresno State Saturday night.
But Cougar quarterback Tanner Mangum went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in the fourth quarter and BYU came up short as FSU earned a 20-13 victory at Bulldog Stadium.
“It’s very disappointing. We’re not playing good football right now and it’s my fault," said coach Kalani Sitake. "There’s really not much to say other than we scored 13 points and we couldn’t stop them on crucial downs. Fresno State did everything they wanted and they wanted it more.”
With the win, Fresno State (6-3) became bowl eligible while the Cougars (2-8) suffered yet another frustrating loss. The loss all but ended BYU's slim bowl hopes.
Facing fourth-and-1 at the FSU 26-yard line with less than six minutes remaining, Cougar backup quarterback Beau Hoge’s pass was batted down by George Helmuth to end that threat.
The Cougars had one more chance potentially to tie the score on a drive that started at BYU’s 5-yard line. Tight end Matt Bushman caught a 20-yard pass before fumbling with 3:14 left.
FSU recovered and ran out the clock.
“We had some bad things happen at all the wrong times — dropped passes, mis-timed throws," Sitake said. "There’s so many issues that needs fixing ... I’m really getting sick of seeing that all the time.”
Coming into the game, Fresno State was allowing 308 yards of total offense per game. BYU finished with 336 yards. The Bulldogs had 310 yards of total offense.
Squally Canada ran 12 times for 84 yards and a touchdown while Bushman caught eight passes for 97 yards.
"They called my number and I was ready," Canada said of his performance.
Mangum completed 20 of 33 passes for 163 yards. He was injured late in the first half and was replaced by Hoge. Mangum was cleared to play in the second half and led a touchdown drive before going down with a non-contact right foot injury with 10:27 remaining in the game. He was helped off the field.
“I don’t know the specifics of it but it doesn’t look good," Sitake said of Mangum's injury before school officials announced the Achilles injury. "I don’t want to speak before I know exactly what the issues are. It didn’t look good on the field and it doesn’t look good right now. I feel bad for him.”
Fresno State opened the second half with a drive that produced a 42-yard field goal, which lifted the Bulldogs to a 13-6 lead.
The Cougars answered with an impressive drive that featured a play when the officials ruled that Canada had fumbled the ball at the 15, but, after a review, BYU retained possession. A few plays later, Canada scored on a four-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 13 with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter.
But FSU regained the lead, 20-13, on its ensuing possession on a two-yard TD run by Jordan Mims. The Bulldog defense kept the Cougars scoreless the rest of the way.
BYU was forced to punt on the game’s opening drive, and Fresno State booted a 42-yard field goal on its first possession.
After the Cougars were stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the FSU 43, the Bulldogs hit a big play, a 50-yard completion, to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Mims to make it 10-0.
Early in the second quarter, BYU marched to the FSU 9, but an illegal substation penalty short-circuited the drive, and Almond drilled a 27-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10-3.
Later, Mangum threw a pick-six that would have put the Cougars in a 17-3 hole. However, offsetting penalties on the play, including defensive holding, gave the ball back to BYU.
The Cougar defense held again and BYU drove from its own 7 into FSU territory. On that series, Mangum left the game with an injury and he was replaced by Hoge. A 27-yard completion to Jonah Trinnaman gave the Cougars possession at the Bulldog 24.
On third-and-10, Hoge was sacked, and, on fourth-and-15, Almond drilled a career-long 46-yard field goal as time expired at the end of the half.
At intermission, FSU led 10-6.
Almond’s previous best was a 38-yarder.
BYU visits UNLV next Friday.
NOTES: Mangum passed 5,000 career passing mark early in the first quarter. He’s the 14th BYU quarterback to reach that plateau. Linebacker Fred Warner, who suffered an injury last week against San Jose State, played Saturday. He recorded eight tackles.