PROVO — Though the drive to LaVell Edwards Stadium was relatively quick from Salt Lake County and the Brazilian grub in the pressroom was tasty, those didn’t top the list of my favorite moments of the BYU-Cal game on Saturday night.
The best moment came in the fourth quarter via a referee.
I can’t be the only one who got a good chuckle when the official announced over the stadium intercom that Cal’s Jaylinn Hawkins had been penalized for “striking a pose” after picking off an errant pass by BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum.
He’s so vogue.
Technically, the penalty was listed as unsportsmanlike conduct, but “striking a pose” made it sound so much more hip.
Here’s the interception:
And the pose:
And the celebration:
BYU gained new life in the third quarter after linebacker Butch Pau’u knocked the daylights out of Cal’s Derrick Clark, who fumbled the ball. The hard hit was even louder than the sound of media members chomping on the Tucano’s pregame spread.
Safety Dayan Ghanwoloku happened to be “at the right spot at the right time,” and he snatched the ball and dashed 36 yards for a touchdown that made the score 14-10 with 10:07 left in the third quarter.
Up until that point, some media members — even ones supposedly on diets — had admittedly eaten more cookies than BYU had scored points.
That play came right after Ghanwoloku blew a defensive assignment, allowing Cal to go up 14-3. He was supposed to be covering the Golden Bears’ Kanawai Noa but got lost in a pick, resulting in the Cal receiver becoming wide open and breezing to a 52-yard touchdown reception.
While the junior admitted “that’s all on me,” Ghanwoloku also said his days as a cornerback taught him that he needed to have a short-term memory and to move on.
“When I came back,” he said, “I told Coach I was going to make a play.”
The opportunistic player was right, and quickly so. He later dove on a fumbled punt, further atoning for the earlier blown coverage.
It was impressive in the postgame comments how players took responsibility for the result.
"We played well, but we didn’t play our game," Pau’u said. "We have some things to fix.”
Tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau said the loss happened earlier in the week, not on Saturday. He said there was “kind of a lull” in Wednesday’s practice after a good session on Tuesday.
“I’m going to take that on me personally, too. I didn’t lead well enough,” Laulu-Pututau. “We didn’t have enough leaders to step up in practice to be ready for today. We know there’s some things we need to fix.”
Coaches were trying to make adjustments on the sideline, Brayden El-Bakri said, but players didn’t quite do it well enough and that with a few tweaks and better execution things will improve.
“I believe the game plan that we had coming out here was the correct game plan,” he said. “Everything we practiced during the week was stuff that we just needed to execute better to be able to succeed. Going into next week if we clean up the things that we need to — watching film, doing little drills … staying after practice, working on the jugs to get the extra catches — I think as a team we have really hard workers and they’re not afraid to put in the extra work to get things done.”
DEFENDING HOME FIELD
Not a lot was said about it, but one of the things BYU coach Kalani Sitake was upset about after the loss was that the Cougars did not defend The House That LaVell Built. The respect for the late, great coach is touching.
About 10 minutes after the game ended and long after most of the stadium was cleared of all but CougarTail wrappers and discarded programs, a couple thousand fans in the south stands were serenaded by the football team. I loved seeing Kyle Whittingham lead the Utes in their fight song after a stinging loss last year, and appreciated seeing the Cougar players stand and sing in front of the students and band after this disappointing defeat. It’s much more fun to sing after a win, of course, but it really builds character to bond after a loss.
I had some fun with this tweet, but Jimmer Fredette was quite kind to several fans calling out his name. It’s good to see alumni supporting their alma mater.