In what figured to be a defensive battle on Thursday night, BYU defeated San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl, 23-6, getting two defensive touchdowns from star linebacker Kyle Van Noy along the way at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
After sophomore quarterback Adam Dingwell threw an interception on San Diego State's first drive of the game, the Aztecs got on the board on their second drive, going 52 yards in eight plays before Chance Marden kicked a 27-yard field goal.
San Diego State scored again early in the second quarter after an 11-play, 61-yard drive culminated in a 23-yard field goal by Marden.
BYU was held scoreless until the final drive of the first half, where it went 74 yards in 12 plays before Justin Sorensen knocked home a 23-yard field goal. The drive was highlighted by sophomore tight end Devin Mahina's 38-yard reception down the middle.
At the end of the half, San Diego State was leading, 6-3.
After a lackluster third quarter, BYU scored the first touchdown of the game early in the final frame. Of course, it came via BYU's defense.
Following James Lark's interception at San Diego State's 3-yard line, the Aztecs were backed up in their own end zone.
One play later, junior linebacker and NFL prospect Kyle Van Noy stripped the ball from Dingwell in the end zone and recovered it for a touchdown. The Cougars had their first lead of the game, 10-6 after the extra point.
It got worse from there for the Aztecs when Dingwell fumbled the snap on their next possession and the Cougars recovered at SDSU's 14-yard line.
One play later, freshman running back Jamaal Williams scampered for the touchdown. BYU all of a sudden had a two-possession lead, 16-6, with just over 12 minutes remaining. The extra point was missed.
Van Noy made yet another game-changing play with just over six minutes remaining, intercepting Dingwell and running it back 17 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Cougars a 23-6 lead.
Van Noy finished with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two defensive touchdowns.
Adam Dingwell had a nightmare of a game, going 11-of-28 for 125 yards and three interceptions while losing a fumble.
BYU won its fourth straight bowl game.
Bleacher Report's own Dan Hope highlighted the key NFL draft prospects from both sides before the game:
At the half, MMA fighter and former BYU football player Jan Jorgensen chimed in:
To much #4 for sdsu in the first half, but 6 points is all the really matters. BYU stepped up when they were needed. As usual— Jan Jorgensen (@TheSaintMMA) December 21, 2012
The halftime stats for BYU reflected the score, as Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune pointed out:
Halftime stats: SDSU 193 yards, BYU 144 yards; James Lark 13 of 23 for 116 yards.— Jay Drew (@drewjay) December 21, 2012
Stewart Mandel of SI.com tweeted after Van Noy's big play in the end zone:
Kyle Van Noy, BYU's best defensive AND offensive player. That was the only way BYU was ever going to see the end zone.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 21, 2012
And with the world supposedly coming to an end on Friday, Beneath the Paint put it all into perspective:
I don't know how tomorrow is going to turn out, but the Mayans can't have much worse of a day than the Aztecs are having #SDSU— Beneath The Paint (@BeneathThePaint) December 21, 2012
Player of the Game: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
In a defensive battle, Kyle Van Noy changed the momentum of the game early in the fourth quarter when he stripped Adam Dingwell in the end zone and fell on the ball for a touchdown.
He turned a 6-3 SDSU lead into a 10-6 BYU lead in the blink of an eye.
But he wasn't done. With just over six minutes remaining, Van Noy picked off Dingwell's pass in SDSU territory, coasting 17 yards for another TD.
The NFL prospect surely earned some points from scouts in his final game of the season—you know, given he accounted for 12 of the Cougars' 23 points and both of their touchdowns.
What are your thoughts?