WSU whiffs on late two point conversion, loses to BYU by two

A questionable playcall on a two point conversion late in the fourth quarter was the difference as the BYU Cougars (6-2) beat the Washington State cougars (4-4, 3-2) on Saturday afternoon on the Palouse 21-19.

WSU’s offense drove to the red zone with around five minutes left and scored a touchdown on Max Borghi’s third touchdown of the game. Unfortunately the coaches got too cute for ok the two point try and attempted to run a wide receiver pass that led to Lincoln Victor’s pass landing right at Travell Harris’ feet for the final margin.

Brigham Young ran the ball with Tyler Allgeier to eat the rest of the clock and close out the win and earn bowl eligibility. Brennan Jackson, the reining Pac-12 defensive player of the week, went down with 2:39 left on the clock.

Allgeier’s third touchdown of the game came late in the third quarter as he closed in on 140-yards. It was the second time he scored on third down as the WSU defense seemed incapable of stopping him in crunch time. This drive was reliant on the ground game, just like their other drifts, as the Washington State defense couldn’t stop the run. The extra point was good and the Mormon Cougars lead was extended to eight-points at 21-13.

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On the next WSU drive, quarterback Jayden de Laura had a home run ball he under to Jackson Jr. that was under thrown, and neatly intercepted, that was the drives best chance at scoring. A holding call on the next play, and a nearly intercepted pass on third down, put an end to the drive before it could get going.

The Washington State defense stood up BYU’s tailbacks on a pair of rushing attempts to force a third and long. Which led to a pass play that was broke up when the wideout was hit as he brought in the pass.

BYU opened up the second half with a more aggressive offensive approach. The Cougars threw the ball down field repeatedly, a complete change from the first half. It was a decision that led to more space for the tailbacks — especially Allgeier. Allgeier picked up a third down in the red zone, and then punched it into the end zone three plays later on yet another third down. That final run was a punishing punch up the gut that saw Brigham Young dominant the undersized middle of WSU’s defensive line for a 14-7 lead.

While WSU scored what should have been a game tying touchdown on its next drive, the snap got bobbled and the place holder’s pass fell short. The missed extra point came after an impressive drive in response to BYU’s touchdown. Joey Hobert was the most consistent target for de Laura on the drive as he was targeted twice, with one catch as the wideout stumbled. Borghi scored the touchdown as he bounced to the left side of the line after the right side had collapsed.

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After a key stop on fourth and two, the Cougar offense marched to midfield on six plays but made the decision to punt on fourth and one. Dickert’s decision to punt was a sign of a more conservative approach that the WSU offense would take throughout the game in fourth down situations.

The Mormon Cougars were unable to take advantage of the punt and were forced to punt and Washington State kneeled out the half. It was a 7-7 tie at the intermission.

Borghi scored the first touchdown of the game when he ran in from the 11-yard. The fifth year player bounced off of a defender and then raced to the end zone. It was the culmination of a drive that followed the script to perfection. The pass plays chewed up huge chunks of yardage while the ground game kept them in manageable second down situations. De Laura’s most impressive pass of the drive found Harris in space at the middle of the defense; the veteran wideout made an impressive catch around his ankles.

On the ensuing drive, BYU drove right down the field on the strength of its run game — the Cougars only attempted one pass, it went for 21-yards. Allgeier ripped off a 30-yard dash to get his squad into the red zone, BYU scored on a three-yard touchdown run two plays later.

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Post game thoughts

  • The Washington State defense had absolutely no answer for BYU’s rushing attack on Saturday as the Mormons piled up 238 yards on 48 carries — which was good for an average of five yards per carry. It often meant that Brigham young was able to avoid passing downs.
  • When WSU did force BYU into passing situations, the defense often held them in check and was able to force turnovers. That secondary has easily been the biggest on-field surprise of 2021.
  • De Laura’s hesitancy to run the ball was costly at times, especially since BYU’s linebackers frequently left plenty of space for him to pick up chunk yardage. While I appreciate his willingness to stay in the pocket to run the offense….sometimes the play the defense gives you is not going to be a pass.
  • Hobert continues to quietly impress in limited snaps for Washington State.
  • Washington State averaged 5.8 yards per play, that is not going to consistently put the offense in trouble and leave its defense out to dry.
  • On the flip side of that coin, BYU averaged 5.6 yards per play. That was primarily thanks to the secondary’s ability to stifle the other Cougars passing attack.

Next up for Washington State is a 12:00 PM kick against Arizona State down in Tempe, Ariz.

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Photo Credit: BYU Football