New Head Coach Kalani Sitake and the BYU football team traveled to Arizona to take on the University of Arizona in the Cactus Kickoff hosted at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
BYU claimed a 9-0 first-half advantage after a 24-yard field goal by Rhett Almond and a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Brayden El-Bakri in the second quarter. The Cougars‘ first three points were set up by a 33-yard run from running back Jamaal Williams. After rumbling to the Arizona 10 yard line, the ball was placed on the 20 due to a block in the back. After a few short gains, Almond booted the field goal for a 3-0 lead with 10:42 on the second-quarter clock.
It was about eight minutes later when El-Bakri punched in the only touchdown of the first half. His first career carry and touchdown culminated an 11-play, 65-yard steady drive in which quarterback Taysom Hill completed all four of his pass attempts. The extra point was no good.
More than half of the third quarter went by without either team scoring until Arizona kicker Josh Pollack hit a 46-yard field goal. That trimmed the Cougars‘ lead to 9-3 with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter. Williams surpassed 100 yards on the ground with a 36-yard run down to the Wildcat 44 yard line late in the third quarter. BYU preserved its 9-3 edge heading into the last period of play. Senior receiver Colby Pearson capped off the drive that Williams sparked by reeling in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Hill. A failed two-point attempt left the Cougars up 15-3 with 11:36 left in the game.
Arizona put together a pair of drives for touchdowns, finding the end zone for the first time just two minutes after BYU. A failed two-point attempt after the second touchdown had the Wildcats up 16-15 with the clock showing 1:26. Matt Hadley returned the ensuing kickoff to the BYU 31-yard line. Hill marched the Cougars down the field to set up Jake Oldroyd for the 33-yard attempt that went right down the middle with four seconds left, lifting BYU to victory. This also marked at Coach Sitake’s first win as a head coach.