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BYU notes: Cougar football players and fans enjoy Baylor experience

By Jared Lloyd - | Oct 17, 2021

Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo

BYU and Baylor players gather for a prayer after the 38-24 Cougar loss to Baylor in Waco, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)

When the BYU football team scored its first touchdown in Saturday’s 38-24 loss at Baylor, the “B-Y-U” chant could be heard throughout McLane Stadium.

The Bear fans listened in surprise, then some of them responded by booing.

In the end, it would be the Baylor supporters who left the game happy with how their team played but, boos aside, Cougar players and coaches expressed appreciation for the support of fans from both sides.

“The environment was amazing out here,” BYU sophomore wide receiver Puka Nacua said. “It was actually super cool to come out of the locker room and in the game and have some BYU chants go so you could hear them all the way across the stadium. Being a BYU players, it is definitely a blessing to have our fans here.”

Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said he was just as appreciative of how the Baylor fans acted.

“I was really impressed with the Baylor crowd too, and with our fans that showed up,” Sitake said. “It’s nice to have the support that we have from Cougar Nation, and how awesome they were to us even after defeat.”

Bear observers expressed some complimentary sentiments on social media about how the BYU fans in attendance acted.

“Shoutout to our future conference mates @BYU for traveling well, wearing blue, and being genuinely pleasant to interact with!–MM” was tweeted from the @OurDailyBears Twitter account.

Kellye Hancock tweeted from her @Baylorcoolchic account: “Great fans! Welcome to Waco and welcome to the conference!”

Cougar fans traditionally show up in large numbers for road games, no matter where their team is playing.

Taggart Barron of Dallas helped organize the BYU alumni tailgate party that took place a couple of hours before the game. He estimated that they had between 2,000 and 2,500 Cougar fans from all over come to the event.

“That’s the blessing of being a part of this program and the loyal fans out there,” Nacua said. “We were talking to some fans after the game and we had fans from from Idaho and fans from Virginia and stuff like. I definitely feel blessed to have people come out and support us. We’re definitely lucky to have that.”

Baylor also gave the Cougars a warm reception.

The Bears had BYU president Kevin Worthen participate in their Homecoming parade and then ceremonially welcomed the Cougars into the Big 12. BYU is currently scheduled to join the league in 2023.

Staff at the stadium had many complimentary things to say about Cougar fans and expressed personal optimism about the future relationship when both schools are in the same league.

Sitake’s only regret from Saturday’s game was that he didn’t feel like his team played at the level it should have.

“I hope our fans know how much we appreciate them and love them,” Sitake said. “I really apologize for not not performing better, but I’m looking forward to learning and getting better from this. I’m really excited about our partnership with Baylor and other universities in the Big 12. IT was a cool experience for us to be here all together and looking forward to that relationship.”

Nacua’s career day

Nacua said he realized early on that there would be some opportunities for him, particularly going deep.

He was excellent at adjusting to where the ball was in the air and came up with career highs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (168). He also caught his first touchdown pass.

“I’m just trying to do as much as I can when the ball came my way,” Nacua said. “I try to make the plays that are there. I was proud of the guys. I love those guys in that locker room. We have just got to go out there and execute a little bit better.”

First interception

Although the BYU defense had a rough day, it did force Baylor to throw its first interception in the 2021 season.

Cougar linebacker Payton Wilgar stayed underneath a route that took a Bear receiver into the end zone and apparently Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon didn’t see him as Wilgar snagged the ball in the end zone to stop a Bear drive.

BYU nearly got a second interception when safety Hayden Livingston tipped a pass into the air, but it was just barely out of reach when it dropped to the ground.

Extra points

The Cougars won the toss and deferred to the second half. BYU forced Baylor to punt on its first drive, then scored a touchdown on a 56-yard run by quarterback Jaren Hall on the first drive of the second half … The BYU alumni flags were carried out by defensive back Troy Fuller, wide receiver Margin Hooks and defensive lineman Russell Tialavea … The official attendance at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas, was 48,016.

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