Defensive MVP • Linebacker pondering jump to NFL shifts the momentum, scores two TDs.
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San Diego • Kyle Van Noy will decide in the next few weeks whether he will return to BYU for his senior season or opt for the NFL Draft, but the All-American's performance in the Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday night left little doubt about his place as one of the best defenders in school history.
Heck, he might just be the best.
Van Noy scored two defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter to almost single-handedly deliver a 23-6 win over San Diego State in front of just more than 35,000 fans at Qualcomm Stadium.
"Big-time players make big-time plays in big games, and Kyle Van Noy is the walking embodiment of that right now," said fellow linebacker Brandon Ogletree, who had a team-high 10 tackles, including a stuff of SDSU running back Adam Muema on third-and-1 at midfield midway through the third quarter that swung the momentum BYU's way.
In the postgame news conference, coach Bronco Mendenhall teased Van Noy about not being known for having good hands, but the one-time receiver showed that and decent moves while scoring his second touchdown.
He picked off SDSU quarterback Adam Dingwell and returned the interception 17 yards for the clinching score.
"I just tried to make a play and ended up in the end zone and didn't know what to do," Van Noy said, after offensive MVP Cody Hoffman (10 catches, 114 yards) praised his ball-carrying ability.
As if two defensive touchdowns weren't enough, Van Noy also blocked a punt in the first half, although the Cougars failed to gain a single yard after taking over at the SDSU 35-yard-line.
"He's a playmaker, man," said BYU outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga. "He's an athlete. He is going to be missed if he decides to leave."
Van Noy said he hasn't made that decision yet and will heal up, discuss the matter with his family, and make the choice soon.
"We talked on the sideline that someone needed to cause a turnover," Van Noy said when asked about the first defensive score. "I just happened to get lucky and make the play."
Van Noy's monster game
• Blocked a punt in the first half
• Caused and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown
• Returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown
• Recorded 3.5 tackles for losses, including 1.5 sacks, and had eight total tackles