BYU capped off the 2017 season with a dominating 30-20 victory over Hawaii at Aloha Stadium Saturday night.
The Cougars totaled 451 yards of total offense compared to just 286 for the Rainbow Warriors and held running back Diocemy Saint Juste — who came in ranked No. 6 nationally with 133.7 yards on the ground — to just 39 yards on 12 carries.
While Hawaii struggled running the ball, BYU didn’t as the Cougars were led by a trio of running backs in Squally Canada, Riley Burt and Austin Kafentzis.
Canada, a junior, rushed for 113 yards on just 17 carries for two touchdowns in just the first half. Canada opened the game with a 40-yard touchdown run and looked well on his way to another 200-yard performance he set against UNLV two weeks ago. However, unfortunately for Canada, he did not return in the second half due to concussion-like symptoms.
With other running backs out too with suspensions and season-ending injuries (Ula Tolutau, KJ Hall, Kavika Fonua, Trey Dye), Kafentzis and Burt sure made the most of their moment as the sophomores combined to run for 173 yards for an average of 5.6 yards per carry and a touchdown.
— Tyler Anderson (@tanderson002) November 26, 2017
Riley Burt is our best RB. Speed, agility. Starter in 2018. Gotta be. #BYUFootball
— Daniel Evans (@DanielRyanEvans) November 26, 2017
Cougar fans, with many of them clamoring to see what Burt can do, sure loved what the sophomore brought on Saturday as he rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run for his first career score at BYU. The late touchdown run in the fourth quarter helped push BYU’s lead to 30-13 with just under four minutes to go in the game.
Where has #BYUFootball been hiding Riley Burt?!?
That kid is explosive.
— Shawn Bezzant (@skbezzant) November 26, 2017
— jonald (@jonaldallan) November 26, 2017
The win gave the Cougars its fourth victory of the season, but most importantly, helped avoid the program’s first 10-loss season. Saturday’s victory also helped the Cougars improve its overall record against the Rainbow Warriors to 22-8.
While offensive coordinator Ty Detmer still tries to figure out where to put Kafentzis, the sophomore showed off his play-making abilities as he turned broken plays that looked like they were going nowhere into positive yards. Kafentzis finished the game with 98 yards on just 18 carries.
While the 2017 season was filled with setbacks, disappointment, a plethora of injuries and questionable coaching decisions, it was good to see the running back trio put on an impressive performance as fans already want to forget about the 2017 season and look ahead to 2018.
With every running back (12 total), set to return next year and with only three offensive lineman graduating with the addition of some highly touted recruits and transfers that had to sit out this season, the running game could be a big bright spot next year in a season that didn’t have a lot to cheer about this year.