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Provo • Fans had to scramble for their rosters in the final half of Saturday's 70-6 win for BYU over Wagner at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which was just what the Cougars' coaching staff wanted to have happen.
After jumping to a 42-0 lead early in the second quarter with freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum directing touchdown drives on their first six possessions, the Cougars started substituting liberally.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said every player that coaches wanted to play got to play, a total of about 50 players.
Offensive linemen Ului Lapuaho, Kyle Johnson and Ryker Mathews were held out with assorted injuries, so Parker Dawe, Tuni Kanuch and Austin Hoyt started in their places and kept the offense from missing a beat.
Running backs Adam Hine and Riley Burt and tight end Bryan Sampson also sat out, but should be back in two weeks when BYU visits San Jose State, along with the three offensive linemen.
"No question we were more explosive and dynamic in the first half [with the starters in the game]," Mendenhall said. "That's not only by who was playing, but by the plays we were calling."
The Cougars stayed mostly on the ground in the second half after Algernon Brown rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Mangum threw for three scores and 237 yards.
"To be able to have the backups in and be run-oriented in the second half, as we were working to keep the game and the points relatively under control, was nice," Mendenhall said. "But we were blocking the right people, making the right decisions at quarterback, and the running backs were running hard."
Among the relatively unknown players who shined when given the chance were junior receiver David Kessler, senior running back Nate Carter, new punt returner Michael Shelton and walk-on linebacker Va'a Niumatalolo.
Moments after his first catch as a Cougar, Kessler took a short swing pass from Beau Hoge and went 47 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 78 receiving yards.
Carter, who has lost the bulk of his carries to freshman Francis Bernard, busted off a 70-yard touchdown run and finished with 102 yards, the second time he's surpassed the 100-yard plateau. The first was in last year's 64-0 win over Savannah State.
Mendenhall said that cornerback Michael Shelton earned the punt-return job in practice, opened when Garrett Juergens suffered a season-ending collarbone injury last week against Cincinnati, and the redshirt freshman delivered.
He returned five punts for 94 yards, including a 40-yarder.
Niumatalolo, son of Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, got his first career sack. Trey Dye had two catches for 55 yards, including a 47-yarder.
"To me, it doesn't matter who we play, what time of day or where we play," Dye said. "It is a faceless opponent in my mind. Once we step on the field it is time to go and focus on our own responsibilities. Today was a great day for a guy like myself to focus on my technique and get some good experience."
Unknown Cougars get chance to shine
* Junior receiver David Kessler caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Beau Hoge and had three catches for 78 yards
* Senior running back Nate Carter ran 70 yards for a touchdown and finished with 102 yards
* Redshirt freshman Michael Shelton returned five punts for 94 yards, including a 40-yarder
* Akile Davis, Josh Weeks and Jake Ziolkowski got their first receptions as Cougars, Colby Hansen his first rushing attempts
* Linebacker Va'a Niumatalolo got his first career sack