Ryan, who had a career-high 353 yards, might have lost the duel with Brigham Young’s John Beck (438 yards), but he did enough in overtime to give the Eagles the 30-23 win. Ryan’s 15-yard touchdown to Tony Gonzalez on the first play of the second overtime turned out to be the game-winner when Jamie Silva made a diving interception – which was originally called an incompletion - on a tipped pass by Beck to end the Cougars’ chances.
“We ended up making more plays than they did in the overtime period,” Ryan said after the game. “And I can’t say enough about Jamie’s diving effort to intercept that ball. It was huge. We’re fortunate to come out of here with a win.”
“Fortunate” is a good way to put it. The Eagles had some eye-catching statistics: Ryan completed the longest pass of his career (and the longest for a BC quarterback since 1999) to Brandon Robinson on a 79-yard play in the first quarter. Robinson had a career day of his own, collecting 140 yards on seven catches (both career-highs). But the 23rd-ranked Eagles needed a lot of lucky bounces down the stretch to avoid an upset at the hands of the unranked Cougars.
After an emotionally charged, double-OT win over Clemson last week, the Eagles were in danger of a let-down game against BYU. BC survived two Ryan Ohliger missed extra-points and two fourth-quarter turnovers when Cougars’ kicker Jared McLaughlin twice failed to connect on game-winning field goals (he drilled the left upright on a 44-yard try) in the fourth with the score knotted at 23.
The sloppy special teams play carried over to extra time, when both teams blew field goal chances in the first overtime period. Beck and the Cougars’ offense went first and reached BC’s 10-yard line, but a 15-yard illegal block and an incompletion on the next play turned a 28-yard chip into a 45-yard blast for McLaughlin. But the junior from Alabama never got a chance at redemption. An off-line snap and a juggle by the holder turned McLaughlin into a make-shift quarterback and an incompletion ended the Cougars’ possession.
The Eagles responded conservatively by running the ball three times and giving way to Ohliger, who was seeking redemption of his own. The would-be game winner, however, was blocked at the line by defensive tackle Russell Tialavea, making necessary a second overtime period.
“I can’t believe that got blocked,” Ohliger said. “I wanted that more than anything for redemption. It felt good, though, and I was positive it was going straight. But I wanted that more than anything.”
It looked as though neither team wanted to win, until Ryan took charge on the next play. On a play-action boot to the right side, Ryan chucked one into the end zone to Gonzalez – the last player in his progression on the play – right before getting tossed to the turf by a defender.
“Tony made a great play,” Ryan said. “I didn’t see it [laughs]. From what I’ve heard it was a great play…I took a pretty good shot. Whoever was chasing me down was a little bit faster and he gave me a pretty good shot after I let go of the ball, but it’s part of the game. It doesn’t really matter if you can’t see it, as long as the ball is in the end zone.”
After an important point-after by the foot of Ohliger sailed through the goal posts, it was Beck’s turn to match Ryan. But Robert Francois, BC’s sophomore linebacker, charged into the backfield and deflected Beck’s pass to a diving Silva. Silva got up and celebrated the pick – and the win – but his elation was cut short by a referee who was signaling an incomplete pass. An animated Silva and - more importantly - an official’s review convinced the ruling umpire that it was indeed an interception.
“I was telling [the umpire] that it was a pick,” Silva said, “but one guy was real sure that it wasn’t, so we had to go to the tape. Tape doesn’t lie.”
Beck and the Cougars’ impressive air attack kept the Eagles’ defense busy all afternoon (he threw 59 times), but a few players stepped up and made game-changing plays when it mattered. Dejuan Tribble had a one-handed pick at the end of the second quarter and swatted away several passes when Beck tested him deep. Francois filled in seamlessly for Brian Toal (who played with the second-team defense to put less pressure on a sore shoulder), tackling everything in sight and tipping the game-ending pick. Fellow sophomore linebacker Kevin Akins was constantly in Beck’s face and forced a few crucial incompletions late in the fourth quarter.
Toal scored his second touchdown of the year on a one-yard run on first and goal in the first quarter. He briefly reaggravated his shoulder injury on the run, but returned on defense and played the rest of the game.