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BYU soccer: Cougars’ October nightmare continues in last-second loss to East Carolina

It was proper there for the taking for the beleaguered Cougars and what was imagined to be the power of the workforce, fifth-year junior quarterback Jaren Corridor and the star-studded offense.

Taking on at their 9-yard line with just below 4 minutes remaining and the sport with the upstart ECU Pirates tied, BYU had an opportunity to exorcise its October demons and maintain its fading bowl hopes alive.

Then got here one other nightmare in a month that has been stuffed with them.

“It simply got here all the way down to who had the ball on the finish and who had an opportunity to kick the sphere aim to win.” — BYU soccer coach Kalani Sitake.

The Cougars posted a three-and-out after they completely, positively wanted a drive in maybe a very powerful possession of the disappointing season, and gave ECU and skilled quarterback Holton Ahlers the ball again on the ECU 32.

Ryan Rehkow’s punt got here after a 5-yard penalty for having too many gamers on the sphere when BYU might unwell afford the generosity.

Ten performs later, after the Cougars had been rightfully flagged for defensive cross interference to maintain ECU’s drive alive, freshman kicker Andrew Conrad booted a 33-yard area aim as time expired to provide the guests a 27-24 win in entrance of 55,525 less-than -thrilled followers at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“Powerful recreation, forwards and backwards, and so they earned the win,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake mentioned. “They performed an awesome recreation. I used to be actually happy with our guys.

In comparison with final week, I assumed we performed lots higher, however I believe every little thing is taking a look at the results of the sport, greater than something.”

And now the Cougars are taking a look at their first non-bowl season since that 4-9 catastrophe in 2017, Sitake’s second 12 months. They must win no less than two of their remaining three video games (Boise State, Utah Tech, Stanford), and the Boise State and Stanford video games are on the street in opposition to groups at present taking part in effectively.

BYU (4-5) is clearly not taking part in effectively, though Friday’s three-point loss to a now 6-3 Pirates workforce nonetheless apparently offended about not getting a Large 12 invitation like BYU and final week’s sufferer, UCF, didn’t appear as disastrous as final week’s loss at Liberty.

“It simply got here all the way down to who had the ball on the finish and who had an opportunity to kick the sphere aim to win,” Sitake mentioned.

The profitable kick, a line drive from the center of the sphere, got here after Conrad had missed a 42-yarder with about 10 minutes remaining.

After that miss, the Cougars had seemingly moved the ball deep into ECU territory on a prolonged Corridor run on third and three.

Nonetheless, proper sort out Kingsley Suamataia was flagged for holding effectively behind the play — the flag got here from the linesman for the American Athletic Convention (AAC) crew on the ECU sidelines — and all however thwarted the Cougars’ momentum.

Brayden Cosper’s 12-yard catch on third and 13 acquired BYU to the 44, however Corridor was stuffed on 4th and 1. The Cougars had been 0 for two on fourth down and are actually 5 for 20 on fourth down this season.

“It looks as if third and brief and fourth and brief is our nemesis proper now,” Sitake acknowledged. “And if that’s the case, and taking a look at analytics and all that stuff, if we aren’t in a position to convert these, we simply cannot maintain going for it on fourth down on a regular basis. And that’s my job as a head coach. I make these selections.”

That wasn’t the worst misfire on fourth down, nonetheless.

In the beginning of the fourth quarter, BYU had pushed to the ECU 12, then went for it on 4th and a couple of as an alternative of taking the straightforward area aim and the possible 27-24 lead.

Backup working again Miles Davis was stuffed for no achieve.

“Yeah, now in hindsight, trying again at it, in fact (a area aim might need been the fitting choice),” Sitake mentioned. “…That’s my fault. I simply felt like we might get that. I felt like there was some good momentum… Yeah, that’s one thing that I might have performed in a different way and higher as a head coach in that call.”

Requested if he was dissatisfied to not get the ball there, or in that scenario late within the recreation, BYU’s greatest participant, receiver Puka Nacua, disregarded the query by saying generally it’s his job to attract defenders to him so different guys could make performs.

On the ill-fated possession that began on the ECU 9, working again Lopini Katoa — who had a season-high 116 yards on 20 carries in reduction of Chris Brooks (hamstring) — mentioned he seemed across the huddle and sensed that one thing massive was going to occur with the season just about hanging within the stability.

“I felt that everyone needed to make the play and get it performed,” Katoa mentioned. “It simply did not occur tonight.”

Credit score the BYU protection, which carried out higher than it did final week in that 41-14 loss to Liberty, for giving the Cougar offense one other probability after the holding penalty.

ECU drove from the BYU 44 to the 9, however the Cougars stuffed back-to-back working performs inside their 10 to provide the ball again to Corridor and firm.

Nonetheless, Corridor’s third and a couple of cross to tight finish Masen Wake was off course and dropped, and the Cougars needed to punt with just below three minutes left.

It appeared that the protection was going to provide you with one other massive cease and pressure additional time, however Kaleb Hayes grabbed Isaiah Winstead on 4th and eight when he had assist from security Talan Alfrey, and the flags flew.

After a couple of brief runs, Conrad made the game-winner and ECU gamers ran all around the area in celebration as the gang booed.

“Clearly it’s supposed to harm, and the struggles and adversities are a troublesome factor,” Sitake mentioned. “However, happy with our gamers and the way arduous they performed. Sadly we weren’t in a position to get the win, however love these guys, and love their perspective and I assumed they performed actually arduous.”

5 penalties for 50 yards harm, as didn’t having key defenders equivalent to linebacker Payton Wilgar, Max Tooley, Lorenzo Fauatea and Malik Moore, the latter of whom is out for the season with a wrist harm.

“No person goes to really feel sorry for us and our injured gamers,” Sitake mentioned. “…East Carolina is a extremely good workforce. … They had been up for the problem.”

And BYU wasn’t, which has been one of many tales of the season. The Cougars have misplaced that ‘it issue’ that carried them to the win over Baylor, which looks as if oh, so way back.

“This (dropping streak) has introduced us nearer as a workforce,” mentioned defensive finish Tyler Batty. “…There may be not a single give up on this workforce.”

After a 17-17 halftime tie, the Cougars took a 24-17 lead with an 11-play, 75-yard landing drive to open the second half; BYU gained the coin toss for simply the second time this season and deferred to the second half.

Nonetheless, ECU shortly answered with a six-play, 75 yard drive to knot the rating at 24-24.

The Cougars, three-point favorites, stayed within the recreation by unleashing a working assault not seen since early September, despite the fact that starter and main ball-carrier Brooks was out.

The Cougars rushed for 244 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and held the ball for almost 34 minutes, nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient. BYU completed with 388 yards, whereas ECU had 424.

The Pirates’ Keaton Mitchell carried the ball 21 occasions for 176 yards and a landing, and Ahlers was 15 of twenty-two for 197 yards and a passer score of 143.4.

BYU’s Corridor was simply OK, finishing 18 of 25 passes for 144 yards and two scores. He did essentially the most injury together with his toes, working for 60 yards on eight carries. Nevertheless it was the one known as again by the maintain that BYU followers will keep in mind essentially the most.

Of the PI name on Hayes that led to the game-winning area aim, Sitake mentioned he did not see it on replay and could not remark, however famous that a couple of performs earlier than that an ECU receiver “disrupted our nook” attempting to make a decide—it was Hayes—and nothing was known as.

BYU’s protection, which gave up 644 yards to Arkansas and 547 to Liberty, nonetheless struggles to get outdoors comprise and put strain on opposing passers, however tackled considerably higher and stored the Cougars within the recreation with Sitake having taken over play-calling duties from Ilaisa Tuiaki two weeks in the past.

“I believe general, we improved from final week, particularly,” Batty mentioned.

After getting thrashed within the remaining three quarters final week at Liberty, BYU’s protection truly got here up with a three-and-out on ECU’s first possession, because of a low snap on first down that resulted in a 10-yard loss.

The Cougars drove contained in the ECU on their first possession, however the drive stalled and Jake Oldroyd was known as on to try his first area aim since September. He made the 36-yarder, BYU’s first area aim for the reason that Utah State recreation, and the Cougars had an early 3-0 lead.

BYU’s Chaz Ah You, who made his first begin of the 2022 season, suffered a decrease leg harm on the Pirates’ second possession and didn’t return. Six performs later, Mitchell ran untouched up the center to provide ECU a 7-3 lead.

East Carolina shot itself within the foot 3 times within the first quarter, and all three proved expensive. A roughing the passer penalty on third and lengthy gave the Cougars life and arrange the Oldroyd area aim.

They dropped a straightforward cross on third-and-2 at midfield after which punted the ball away on their third possession. Then they jumped offsides on a third-and-3 to provide BYU a primary down after Corridor was strip-sacked and ECU recovered.

The Cougars scored a landing on that possession, with Katoa twice posting 24-yard runs, the second for the rating with 12:56 left within the second quarter to provide BYU a 10-7 lead.

Backup defensive again Carter Krupp saved BYU a landing on ECU’s subsequent possession, chasing down Jsi Hatfield after a 51-yard reception wherein a number of of Krupp’s teammates missed tackles on the speedy receiver. Krupp suffered a decrease physique injured with 11:14 left within the recreation and didn’t return.

Conrad’s 23-yard area aim knotted it at 10 after BYU’s protection stiffened inside its 5.

Nacua someway acquired broad open ultimately zone and made a sliding catch for a 30-yard rating to provide the Cougars a 17-10 lead with six minutes left within the first half.

Mitchell’s 35-yard run moved the Pirates shortly down the sphere, nonetheless, and Ahlers’ 1-yard run with 2:42 left within the half tied it at 17-all.

The Cougars took over at their 18, however went conservative and did not decide up a primary down, maybe a expensive choice in a recreation the place each possession meant lots. Rehkow’s 70-yard punt pinned ECU on the 2 and the Pirates ran out the clock.

East Carolina had 235 yards within the first half, to 208 for BYU. The Cougars had simply 63 passing yards within the first half, however Corridor picked up 43 yards on three carries to punish the Pirates for some fixed blitzing.

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