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Provo • It appears that Harvey Langi's football career will end the way it began, with the former high school All-American playing running back.

With tailbacks Jamaal Williams and Squally Canada ailing, and fullback Algernon Brown also injured, Langi joined freshman KJ Hall in the backfield to help the Cougars run past UMass on Saturday.

He rushed for a pair of touchdowns through the first three quarters, the first TDs of his career.

Langi began his career at Utah as a running back, then transferred to BYU after a church mission and played linebacker his first two seasons in Provo.

He was moved to defensive end this season, then back to linebacker the past few games. Middle linebacker Butch Pau'u returned to man that spot on Saturday, allowing Langi to fill in at running back.

Langi's 5-yard run in the second quarter gave the Cougars a 14-9 lead, and his 2-yard TD plunge in the third quarter pushed the BYU advantage to 27-9.

Flag bearers

Todd Watkins (receiver, 2004-05), Steve Clements (quarterback, 1990-94) and Dustin Rykert (offensive lineman, 1998-2002) carried out the alumni flags before the game. Defensive back Matt Hadley and receiver Jonah Trinnaman carried out the team flags.

Independents will battle often

Saturday's game was the first of a scheduled four-game series between BYU and UMass, schools that are both conference independents in football. The Cougars and Minutemen will play against next year in Provo, then back-to-back years at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., in 2018 and 2019.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said ESPN helped broker the deal for the teams to arrange a series when UMass announced it was going independent in 2014.

Holmoe also really liked the idea of BYU playing in the Northeast, Associate AD Duff Tittle said.


Defensive tackle Handsome Tanielu wore jersey No. 91 to honor teammate Travis Tuiloma, who suffered a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago. … The Cougars entered the game as the 15th-best team in the country at covering kickoffs, but gave up returns of 51 and 33 yards in the first half to UMass speedster Isaiah Rodgers. … Greg Wrubell of the IMG Sports Network was honored at halftime for his 200th career broadcast.

Twitter: @drewjay