BYU spoils Sumlin’s debut with 28-23 win over Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Brigham Young’s offensive line pushed Arizona around. Tanner Mangum was effective in his return from an Achilles’ tendon injury. The Cougars kept Khalil Tate from breaking off any big runs.
BYU expected to be better after a four-win season ago and sure seems to be after opening the season with a road win over a Pac-12 team.
“We’ve been thinking about this for a long time, so really happy for the team in their ability to get the win,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.
BYU went 4-9 last year, but was overpowering up front on offense and the defense limited Tate’s effectiveness by not letting him get out and run.
Arizona had some good moments in the first half in its first game under Sumlin, but struggled on both sides of the ball in the third quarter as BYU built an 18-point lead.
Tate rallied Arizona in the fourth quarter. He scored on a 2-yard run and set up J.J. Taylor’s 1-yard TD run with just over three minutes left, but Arizona trailed 28-23 after the 2-point conversion failed.
BYU never let the Wildcats get the ball back, grinding out a pair of first downs behind its powerful offensive line.
“We got into a game that they were able to control the line of scrimmage,” Sumlin said. “We couldn’t get them off the field and when we did put them in a third-down position, they were able to make the plays to get a first down.”
Tate threw for 197 yards and a TD on 17-of-34 passing, but was held to 14 yards rushing on eight carries.
Mangum battled injuries last season, throwing nine interceptions and eight touchdowns before going down with a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury. He was sharp against Arizona, throwing for 209 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-28 passing.
Mangum orchestrated a drive to set up Canada’s first 1-yard TD run in the second quarter and opened the third with a 24-yard scoring pass to Matt Bushman that put BYU up 14-10.
“It was fun,” Mangum said. “I was just enjoying it, the atmosphere, I love being with the guys and being healthy.”
The Cougars began blowing the Wildcats off the ball on their next quick-hitting drive, marching 58 yards for Canada’s second 1-yard TD run. Canada’s 2-yard run at the end of the third quarter put BYU up 28-10.
Defensively, BYU was effective at limiting Tate’s running options, but he found ways to beat them with his arm in the first half.
Tate led Arizona on a late scoring drive in the first half — with help from BYU’s two 15-yard penalties — and hit Tony Ellison on a 15-yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats up 10-7.
Tate had success again in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Arizona’s first home-opener loss since 2000.
“Being a quarterback, you want to win games. That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “When the team wins, everybody wins.”
BYU is clearly not the same team that won four games last season. Arizona has a ways to go if it expects to contend in the Pac-12 South.
SPECIAL TEAMS BOOST
BYU got a boost from two big plays on special teams by Michael Shelton.
The first came in the first quarter, when Shelton partially blocked Lucas Havrisik’s 43-yard field goal attempt. In the third quarter, Shelton made a nifty initial move on a punt return and turned it into a 37-yard gain to Arizona’s 25, setting up Canada’s third TD.
BYU had a 392-326 advantage in total yards. … Canada finished with 98 yards on 24 carries. … Tate led all FBS players with an average rush of 9.22 yards last season, but was held to 1.8 by the Cougars. … Sitake was concerned about the number of penalties, particularly the pass interference calls against the Cougars. BYU had 10 penalties for 94 yards overall.
BYU plays its second straight Pac-12 opponent, hosting California next Saturday.
Arizona plays at Houston next Saturday.