PROVO — Safety Dayan Ghanwoloku didn’t hesitate to take blame for making a mistake that led to a 52-yard touchdown bomb by Cal in the third quarter of BYU’s 21-18 loss Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“That’s all on me,” the junior said.
Ghanwoloku explained that he was supposed to be covering the Golden Bears’ Kanawai Noa, but he got caught up in a pick. The Cal receiver was then farther away from any human being in the entire stadium as he easily sprinted into the end zone for a 14-3 lead in the third quarter.
On a night when BYU’s defense kept the team in the game, it didn’t take long for him to bounce back.
Ghanwoloku’s attitude after that letdown: “Move on.”
“That’s how I was at corner — just short-term memory,” he said. “When I came back, I told Coach I was going to make a play.”
Sure enough, Ghanwoloku and linebacker Butch Pau’u teamed up right after that to make things quite interesting just as it seemed as if their Pac-12 foe was in control.
Pau’u slobberknocked the ball out of a Cal player and Ghanwoloku snagged it off the ground and zipped 36 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-10.
Ghanwoloku later hopped on a fumbled punt and Isaiah Kaufusi had an interception to give BYU some second-half scoring opportunities on a night when the offense simply wasn’t in rhythm.
Coach Kalani Sitake wasn’t thrilled with BYU’s run defense, especially how it struggled against Cal’s Wildcat surprise package. The Bears averaged 4.8 yards per rush and gained 184 yards on the ground.
Overall, Cal outgained BYU 398 yards to 287, but the visitors were limited to 21 points — a total that should be low enough for a Cougar win.
“They had a really good practice week,” tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau said, crediting the defense. “They had their backs against the wall so many times and got turnovers. Hats off to the defense. I loved them for playing hard.”
The defense would definitely like at least one play back, though. With a chance to force a fourth down and help give the Cougars the ball back after a last-minute touchdown catch by Brayden El-Bakri, Cal quarterback Brandon McIlwain evaded a tackler and earned a game-clinching first down with 26 seconds remaining.
"I wish we could come back and make that tackle," Sitake said. "They did the quarterback run with the Wildcat package, and you have to give credit to Cal. They made the plays that they needed to to win the game. I don’t think we did enough to really help ourselves."
Pau’u said the Cougars will look to refocus this week as they prepare for Wisconsin.
"We played well, but we didn’t play our game," Pau’u said. "We have some things to fix. We do believe that we’re a better team. We just have to continue to work and practice well this week. We just have to do a better job of knowing our assignments and continue to practice hard because we’re a great defense. We know that. We just have to keep a positive attitude, that’s the biggest thing."