Provo, UT (Sports Network) - Riley Nelson threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns to lead the BYU Cougars to a 30-6 win over the Washington State Cougars in the season opener for both schools at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Nelson completed 25-of-36 for BYU (1-0) and survived a pair of sacks as the team won for the fifth straight game and the 10th in the last 11 outings going back to last season. Kaneauka Friel also had a huge game for the hosts as he reeled in six passes for 101 yards and two scores.
The Cougars of Washington State (0-1), losers of three in a row and eight of their last nine after starting the 2011 campaign with three wins in four tries, tried to ride quarterback Jeff Tuel to victory, but the signal-caller was sacked three times and picked off twice while completing 30-of-45 for 229 yards in the setback.
The hometown Cougars kicked off the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Skyler Ridley in the back of the end zone in the first quarter.
Early in the second period BYU struck again when, on 4th-and-one, backup quarterback Taysom Hill stepped in and rolled out to the right before firing a strike to Friel in the end zone for an 18-yard score and a 14-0 advantage.
On their ensuing possession the visiting Cougars were buried deep in their own end, but a couple of costly personal fouls by the defense allowed WSU to march down the field. Unfortunately for Washington State, the offense fizzled and had to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt which was subsequently moved back five yards due to a penalty. Kicker Andrew Furney remained unfazed as he knocked through the attempt to cut the score to 14-3 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the half.
BYU added to the lead with a 28-yard field goal by Riley Stephenson late in the second quarter. The hosts continued to pile on as Nelson connected with Friel on a 25-yard touchdown play to make the score 24-3.
Not everything went according to plan for BYU however, the team being flagged for six major penalties in the first half. Because of those infractions Washington State was able to move the ball down the field yet again and for a moment appeared to have gotten into the end zone in the final seconds on a deep pass into the corner, but a holding call against WSU brought the play back.
With the first half winding down, Furney was called on to try a 41-yard field goal which he knocked through to cut the deficit to 24-6 at the break.
A long kickoff return by WSU to begin the second half should have given the team a boost, but instead the squad was saddled with penalties and then Tuel tossed an interception that Jordan Johnson returned 64 yards to the nine-yard line of Washington State.
The BYU offense squandered a golden opportunity to further bury the visitors as Bronco Mendenhall's squad had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Stephenson.
A 31-yard field goal by Stephenson, who was filling in for an injured Justin Sorensen, later in the period moved the score to 30-6 in favor of the hosts which is how the matchup ended.
WSU, which ranked 10th in the Pac-12 and 111th in the nation last season in rushing with just 100.2 ypg, finished this meeting with minus-five yards on 16 attempts.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach made his return to the college game for the first time since 2009 when he was fired by Texas Tech. With the Red Raiders between 2000-09 Leach, who graduated from BYU in 1983 coincidentally, produced a record of 84-43 which made him the winningest coach in school history.
Known for his explosive offense with the Red Raiders, the last time a Leach- led team did not score a touchdown in a game was in September 2006 when Tech was downed by nationally-ranked TCU in a 12-3 final in Fort Worth.Game Notes