PROVO – Algernon Brown’s career performance, including the game-winning touchdown on the final drive, led BYU to a 45-38 win over East Carolina in the Homecoming game Saturday night. A little Mangum magic didn’t hurt either.
Quarterback Tanner Mangum left the game during the fourth quarter after hobbling following a run, but returned on BYU’s final drive. Mangum went 3 for 4 on the drive for 27 yards and Brown rushed 9 yards for his fourth touchdown for the game-winner with 19 seconds remaining.
“What a remarkable performance by Tanner,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I didn’t expect him to come back, but I’m certainly glad he did. He keeps doing things that are pretty amazing, but at the same time he just keeps staying grounded and humbled and smiling and helping us win football games.”
The Cougars had 508 yards of total offense, just shy of the Pirates’ 518 total yards. Mangum completed 24 of 33 passes for 332 yards, his third game throwing over 300 yards. He threw three touchdowns and had no interceptions.
Brown rushed for 134 yards on 24 carries for three touchdowns, all career highs. He also had one receiving touchdown.
“That last play I thought we were going to pass, but when they called the run all I wanted to do was hold on to the ball,” Brown said. “It was exciting to see us fight to the end.”
Devon Blackmon had a game-high 142 yards on nine catches. Mitch Mathews and Terenn Houk both caught touchdowns in the win. Michael Wadsworth led the team in tackles with 10, followed closely by Kai Nacua’s nine.
ECU jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after two costly turnovers by BYU. After a Pirate fumble recovery, ECU quarterback James Summers held the ball on fourth down and rushed for 34 yards to get the touchdown and an early 7-0 lead with 7:21 remaining in the quarter. Just two minutes later, ECU blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Cougars marched down the field to answer back. A couple of big receptions by Blackmon set up a 22-yard touchdown catch by Brown with 1:36 left in the first quarter.
BYU then answered with a punt block of its own as senior Bronson Kaufusi got a hand on a Pirate kick. Trey Dye recovered the ball at the 1-yard line, which allowed Brown to run the ball into the end zone for his second touchdown, tying the game up 14-14 with 13:20 left until half.
The offensive onslaught continued for BYU in the second quarter. One scoring drive was kept alive after punter Jonny Linehan faked a punt and rushed 7 yards for the first down. With 8:05 left in the second quarter, Mathews caught a 13-yard reception to make it 21-14.
Three double-digit yard receptions led the Cougars down the field in their next possession. Mangum found Houk for a 9-yard touchdown, the senior’s first of the year, to double the Pirates’ score 28-14 with 2:14 in the half. ECU capped off the half by scoring a touchdown with six seconds left to cut the lead to 28-21.
The second half began with Brown rushing up the middle for a 53-yard touchdown, extending BYU’s lead to 35-21 with 13:02 in the third quarter.
The Cougar defense forced three turnovers in a row, two fumble recoveries by Sione Takitaki and Fred Warner and an interception by Warner gave the offense more opportunities. Unfortunately, BYU was unable to convert any of those turnovers into touchdowns. With 2:25 left in the third quarter, Trevor Samson kicked a 37-yard field goal to push the lead to 38-21.
Taking advantage of Mangum on the sidelines, the Pirates fired back in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns and one field goal to tie the game at 38-38. Beau Hoge threw an interception to set up the ECU game-tying field goal with 4:01 left in the game.
Mangum came back in for BYU’s last drive to take the offense down the field. With just 19 seconds left in the game, Brown rushed nine yards for his fourth touchdown of the game to take back the lead for the final time.
“When you’re in the middle of a game, you want to do all you can to keeping playing and help your team win, even though you’re hurt,” Mangum said. “When it came down to the last drive, I couldn’t stay on the sideline any longer.”
BYU’s homestand continues against Cincinnati on Friday Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live on ESPN and broadcast on the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
Stats: BYU 45, ECU 38
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