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Brigham Young runs away from hapless Bears

By Greg Beacham Associated Press Writer
Monday September 10, 2001

It’s been years since Brigham Young scored so much, won so easily and looked so good. 

Brandon Doman rushed for three touchdowns and passed for three more as BYU and its high-powered offense rolled past another overmatched opponent, beating California 44-16 Saturday. 

Their competition hasn’t exactly been stiff, but the Cougars (3-0) have scored 166 points this season in performances worthy of the school’s famous high-flying teams in LaVell Edwards’ heyday. 

“Once we get going, we’re tough to slow down,” Doman said. 

New coach Gary Crowton’s inventive attack started slowly against Cal, but BYU scored six straight TDs after a scoreless first quarter. 

While the Cougars roared into next week’s difficult trip to Mississippi State, California took its second straight embarrassing home loss under embattled coach Tom Holmoe, a BYU alumnus, to go 0-2 for the first time since 1995. 

“I can’t be angry with these guys,” Holmoe said. “It’s a team thing, and as a coach and players, we have to figure it out together. The players are angry at themselves.” 

The Golden Bears, who were beaten 44-17 by Illinois last week, also lost star tailback Joe Igber to a sprained left ankle at the end of the third quarter. 

Cal scored first on Marcus Fields’ 25-yard TD catch less than seven minutes in. The Bears’ fired-up defense stopped BYU’s first three drives, but the Cougars tied it up on a drive that was kept alive on a successful fake punt. 

On fourth-and-1 from BYU’s 29, the Cougars short-snapped the ball to Ned Stearns, who rushed for 23 yards. Four plays later, Doman hit Luke Staley with a 27-yard TD pass. 

“It was a close game, and they didn’t expect it,” Crowton said. “We’d done it in practice, and it worked. I just had to have the guts to call it. It wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that.” 

The game changed abruptly in the closing minutes of the first half. 

The score was still tied when Igber fumbled at the BYU 19 with 2:04 left before halftime. BYU needed just six plays — including a beautiful 41-yard reception by Mike Rigell — to move into position for Doman’s 4-yard TD sneak with 52 seconds left. 

Cal quarterback Kyle Boller then fumbled near midfield with 14 seconds left. Doman threw a short slant to Brian McDonald, who sprinted through the Cal secondary, dodged several tacklers and tumbled into the end zone for a 53-yard TD as time expired, putting BYU up 21-7. 

“They got deflated a little bit,” McDonald said of the Bears. “They thought back to that Illinois game where they had a couple of turnovers, and that took them out of it.” 

Doman, the Cougars’ senior quarterback, was responsible for all six TDs, falling two short of the school record set by Marc Wilson in 1977 and matched by Jim McMahon in 1980. But in leading the Cougars to victory both with passes and runs, Doman looked more like Steve Young. 

“I’m very impressed with (Doman) so far,” Crowton said. “What Brandon is doing with the team right now is very positive.” 

Doman is the first BYU quarterback to win his first five starts since Robbie Bosco in 1984. That season ended with the Cougars’ only national title. 

To join the best QBs in BYU’s history, Doman must beat teams a bit tougher than those on the Cougars’ early-season schedule, but he feels he’s off to a good start. 

“It’s pretty easy when your offensive line comes out and plays as well as they did,” Doman said. “I think we have a good team, and we were prepared well.” 

Doman was 16-of-24 for 272 yards as the Cougars rolled up 488 yards of total offense — 365 in the middle two quarters. 

Reno Mahe caught a 16-yard TD pass late in the third quarter to put BYU ahead 41-10. Mahe had six catches for 64 yards. 

The Cougars also got two penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct. Left tackle Dustin Rykert, a native of nearby Roseville, was ejected in the third quarter after a series of taunts. 

Boller was 19-of-33 for 242 yards for the Bears, who missed tackles all day and clearly became disheartened in the second half. Fields had five catches for 79 yards. 

After opening the season against the weak defenses of Tulane, Nevada and Cal, BYU gets a much tougher test next week against in Starkville against the 18th-ranked Bulldogs, who beat Memphis 30-10 on Saturday. Mississippi State won 44-28 in Provo last season.