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Provo • Blunders on special teams was the most noticeable reason why the BYU Cougars failed in their bid to upset TCU on Friday night at Cowboys Stadium and snap what is now a four-game losing streak against the Horned Frogs.
TCU took a 38-28 win to dump BYU's five-game winning streak and send the Cougars into their bye week wondering what might have been.
But a problem that has existed most of the season the inability to finish drives also played a prominent role in the loss that coach Bronco Mendenhall described as one of the most frustrating of his career.
"Look at all the points we left out on the field," said BYU quarterback Riley Nelson, listing several Cougar miscues, mostly his own. "We gotta execute down there [near the goal line]. It was really frustrating."
Eight BYU drives moved past TCU's 33-yard line. Two ended in touchdowns Mike Alisa's 22-yard catch in the first quarter and Bryan Kariya's 1-yard run in the fourth but six other penetrations resulted in just six points, with a pair of field goals by Justin Sorensen. The other touchdown came on JD Falsev's 67-yard punt return, BYU's first since 2006.
"We simply made too many mistakes to win the game, to control field position, which leads to points," coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
An incomplete pass thrown by holder Matt Marshall the former Skyline High QB on 4th-and-3 ended one drive. An interception in the end zone ended another, although officials easily could have called pass interference on the Frogs on the play where Nelson overthrew Austin Holt as he was being tackled.
Then there was that missed field goal, when Sorensen slipped just before halftime. However, the most damaging miscue of all was the uncovered lateral in the third quarter on 1st-and-10 after the Cougars had driven to the TCU 17.
"First of all, credit to TCU," said Nelson, detailing how his backward pass to Holt resulted in the Cougars losing possession when they were seemingly poised to make it a one-score game early in the fourth quarter.
"They had the perfect defense for that call, and they blew up that right side. That play really depends on us getting good blocks on that front side roll-out block, and they blew it up. I didn't get to take my normal footwork. The timing was off, and when I turned around I just tried to get it in the air. I saw Austin was behind me, just in my mind I was screaming, 'Get on it, get on it.' But he had slipped.
"That was tough to [see happen] because if we would have executed that play, that probably would have been seven [points], and changed the circumstances of the game at that point."
Instead, the Frogs took over at their own 29, drove 54 yards and took six minutes, 48 seconds off the clock, and kicked a field goal to put the game out of reach.
"That's what a good college football game should look like, but they played cleaner than we did," Mendenhall said.
The Cougars are now off until Nov. 12, when they will play host to Idaho at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Kickoff time and television arrangements have not been announced.
P Idaho at BYU
Saturday, Nov. 12
TV • ESPN network, TBA
A closer look
BYU's touchdown-less drives into TCU territory:
Qtr Start Obtained Result
1st BYU 31 Kickoff Sorensen FG after drive to TCU 25
1st TCU 48 Punt Incomplete pass at TCU 30
2nd TCU 40 Kickoff Interception by TCU in end zone
2nd BYU 23 Kickoff Missed FG after drive to TCU 33
3rd BYU 29 Kickoff Sorensen FG after drive to TCU 27
3rd BYU 43 Punt Fumbled lateral at TCU 17