BYU Football dominates Navy 55-3 in season opener

Head coach Kalani Sitake and the BYU Cougars proved they can compete against a top defense in the country during their first-ever Monday night football game, trouncing Navy in the season opener in Annapolis, Maryland.

BYU scored on nine of its 12 drives in the primetime Labor Day matchup and defeated the Navy Midshipmen by a final score of 55-3 – the largest margin of victory in the Kalani Sitake era. 

“BYU has utterly dominated Navy tonight,” said ESPN play-by-play broadcaster Rece Davis after BYU scored its fifth touchdown late in the third quarter. 

Navy’s defense, ranked 10th nationally in 2019 for rushing defense, struggled to stop the run against BYU, and the Cougars controlled the line of scrimmage from the outset.

“I think we’re going to be something different that Navy hasn’t seen before,” Sitake said in an interview with BYU radio play-by-play commentator Greg Wrubell before the game.

His words proved true, as the Cougars finished the night with 580 total yards on offense while allowing only 149 yards on the defensive front. 

Running backs Lopini Katoa and Tyler Allgeier rushed for 212 total yards and 4 touchdowns, and Jackson McChesney rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on the night. Katoa gave credit to the offensive line for their ability to open things up for the running backs.

Running back Lopini Katoa rushing for a touchdown in Annapolis, Maryland against Navy. Katoa scored three touchdowns on Labor Day, two on the ground and one on a pass from Zach Wilson. (BYU Photo)

“The lanes that the O-line opened for us were amazing,” Katoa said. “Big credit to the O-line for opening the game up for us.” 

Quarterback Zach Wilson led the offense for most of the game before backup Baylor Romney was allowed to take over late in the third quarter. Wilson completed 13 of 18 pass attempts for 232 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Romney completed three of four total pass attempts for 47 yards. 

BYU’s offensive line worked hard in the trenches to give Wilson and the BYU backs time to make big plays. Senior center James Empey joined Wrubell post-game to talk about BYU’s dominant offensive performance.

“(The running backs) were seeing the holes and making it happen,” Empey said. “They were making us look good. I love to block for guys like that.”  

Junior linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa praised the Midshipmen and credited the win to his coaches and teammates.

“We had a really good gameplan and played our A-game,” Tanuvasa said.

This was both teams’ first game following the shutdown of sports in the spring due to COVID-19, and the Cougars were much better prepared to play physical football, having practiced live tackling far more than the Midshipmen in practices. BYU was unfazed by the lack of fans in the stands and other precautions and novelties surrounding the game.

BYU’s defense held the Navy offense to just 149 total yards on Monday, roughly a third of Navy’s average offensive yardage during the 2019 season.

Coach Kalani Sitake celebrates a BYU play against Navy on Labor Day. Sitake’s Cougars dominated on both sides of the ball, dropping 55 points on the Midshipmen, and holding the opposing offense to just a field goal. (BYU Photo)

“I am really proud of the way these guys tackled tonight, the credit goes to the players and their leadership,” Sitake said.

The Cougar defense recovered one fumble and allowed only seven first downs. BYU Radio reporter Jason Shepherd described the collective defensive effort as “dominating” following the game.

Coach Sitake gave a number of statements post-game praising his player’s ability to lead each other on the field, making his job easier as coach.

“These guys worked really hard,” Sitake said. “I’m proud of our leaders, and I’m proud of Matt Bushman for what he has done for this team.”

Bushman was injured in practice leading up to this week’s game but was still named one of eight captains as voted on by the players and the coaching staff. 

Junior wide receiver Gunner Romney made up for Bushman’s absence in the passing game, going for 134 yards and a touchdown.

Following a bye week this weekend, the Cougars go back on the road to face Army on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

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