BYU’s 2012 fourth-quarter defensive stoutness is astounding

Editor’s note: Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., submitted this guest column. Driggs is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the ’60s. Contact at

When the BYU defense sprinted off the field after its historic goal line stand against Boise State this past season and Bronco Mendenhall went into some kind of Zumba Dance, I knew right then that it was a signature moment for the defense, and maybe for the whole team and the season. It represented all that Mendenhall wanted in terms of extraordinary effort, and even though it was in a game that turned out to be a loss, the memory of that moment is indelible. It was the signature defensive moment of the season, until the Kyle Van Noy fourth-quarter show in the Poinsettia Bowl.

That Boise State moment has been well chronicled, but I discovered another notable recently. The Cougars only gave up 38 points in the fourth quarter the entire season, including the bowl game. I already knew 21 of those points came in the Oregon State game, which means that in the other 12 games, the Cougar defense gave up 17 points, an average of less than 1.5 points for each fourth quarter.

A closer look reveals that 7 of those points came late in the Weber State game, with the score 45-6 at the time. Another 3 points came in the Idaho game, when a fumbled punt return gave the Idaho kicker a field goal opporunity on the final play of the game. Then we are down to the only other game, beside the Oregon State game, where points were scored on the BYU defense in the fourth quarter, and that was the Notre Dame drive for the winning touchdown.

It is remarkable that BYU’s stout defense shut down virtually every offensive effort late in nearly every one of their games in 2012. In the midst of Cougar fans’ anguish and hand wringing of “what could have been,” let’s celebrate what did happen.

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