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Provo • BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall pretty much got what he wanted out of Saturday's glorified scrimmage against Savannah State as the Cougars rolled up a 64-0 win and every player who dressed got in the lopsided game.
Most importantly, nobody was injured, although the coach announced before the game that promising freshman linebacker Fred Warner suffered a back injury last week against UNLV and is done for the season.
Mendenhall was pleased that many of BYU's 26 outgoing seniors shined on Senior Day, including quarterback Christian Stewart, who accounted for six touchdowns, and linebacker Alani Fua, who made his fourth career interception.
Punter Scott Arellano, receiver Jordan Leslie (touchdown catch), safety Harvey Jackson (sack), tight end Devin Mahina (34 receiving yards) and linebacker Zac Stout (forced fumble) also had big games in their final appearance as a player at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"It was refreshing," Mendenhall said of the way the seniors played. "Regardless of opponent, that doesn't guarantee that you are just going to play like that. So, it was just a great sign for me as the head coach, and for our team, to really do what they were prepared to do, and execute at that level, and do so right from the beginning all the way until when we pulled Christian out."
Seniors defenders such as linebacker Mike Alisa, cornerback Robertson Daniel, Marques Johnson and Craig Bills made plays as the Cougars got the shutout they wanted and held the visitors to just 63 total yards, a school-record. The previous record was 66 against Western Michigan in 1964.
"Certainly this wasn't a great gauge, in terms of opponent," Mendenhall said. "But statistically it is hard to do better than that. I still think, in context, you have to say, 'pretty impressive.'"
The Cougars even recorded their third safety of the season, thanks to special teams play. Sophomore David Kessler blocked a punt that was eventually booted through the end zone by SSU's punter.
Mendenhall admitted to getting choked up with emotion before kickoff.
"As I am becoming maybe more mature as a head coach, I am understanding more and more that relationships are really all that's left when this thing is over. Yeah, the record is great, and the wins are great, but each young man as I saw him, it was flashes of memories and experiences. I was grateful that I had a chance to see that up close and personal," he said.
About the only downer was that the Cougars were undisciplined early in the game, penalized five times in the first quarter for 46 yards. They muffed a kickoff and almost muffed a punt, and fumbled five times, losing just one when a snap sailed over quarterback McCoy Hill's head.
"I think our team showed maturity and I think they pulled for each other," Mendenhall said. "I was really encouraged by our sideline when the younger players and those who don't get to play as much got their opportunity. They were genuinely happy for each other, and that is always fun to see as a coach."
BYU seniors who shined on Senior Day
Player Position Accomplishment
Christian Stewart, QB • Threw for four touchdowns and 196 yards and ran for two scores
Scott Arellano, Punter • Placed his 23rd punt inside 20-yard line and had his 19th 50-plus harder
Jordan Leslie, WR • Caught a touchdown pass and extended his streak to 39 games with a catch
Alani Fua, LB • Had his fourth career interception, returned it 20 yards
Harvey Jackson, DB • Registered a season-high four tackles, and one sack
Devin Mahina, TE • Caught two passes for 32 yards, long of 24
Zac Stout, LB • Tied for team-high with five tackles and forced a fumble