Aug 28, 2003
By DOUG ALDEN
AP Sports Writer
PROVO, Utah – Matt Berry threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns as Brigham Young overcame a sloppy start and 16 penalties to beat Georgia Tech 24-13 Thursday night.
Berry was shaky in the first half of his first season-opening start, but settled down in the second half and picked apart the Yellow Jackets with a series of short passes and screens that the Cougars were able to spring for bigger gains.
Berry, who started the final six games last season as a freshman, finished 31-for-46 with one interception in front of former BYU star Steve Young, whose jersey was retired at halftime. Berry, who wears Young’s No. 8, didn’t exactly look like Young but was able to ignite the offense in the second half and hold off the Yellow Jackets.
Tech, which had won its last four season openers, led 13-7 at halftime thanks to two field goals by Dan Burnett and a blocked punt that was returned by for a touchdown, but the offense never really got going under freshman quarterback Reggie Ball.
Ball was 15-for-24 for 147 yards with an interception. He also had five carries for 39 yards for the Yellow Jackets, who were outgained by BYU 362-243 and had four turnovers.
Tech fell apart early in the third quarter and never recovered.
After trailing at halftime, BYU regained the lead in the opening series of the third quarter when Berry rolled to his left, waited and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Coats to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive with 11:12 left.
On the kickoff, Tech’s Kenny Scott fielded the ball in the end zone and started to take a knee, but changed his mind and tried for a return. It was a bad choice for Scott, who blocked a punt in the first half that was returned for a touchdown. He was stopped at the 5-yard line and the Yellow Jackets were forced to punt, setting up BYU at the Tech 43.
Berry took advantage of the short field and from the 14 lofted a pass to Toby Christensen, who made a diving grab in the corner of the end zone for another touchdown to make it 21-13.
Georgia Tech took a 13-7 lead in the second quarter when Scott blocked Matt Payne’s punt at the 18 and Nathan Burton scooped it up and ran untouched for the score early in the second quarter.
The touchdown appeared to wake up the BYU offense. Berry led the Cougars on a drive that ate up 9:47 and made it to the Tech 11-yard line, but ended with Payne’s 28-yard field goal attempt going wide to the right.
Payne was good from 24 yards out with 2:32 left in the game.
BYU running back Marcus Whalen injured his knee on the second play of the Cougars’ opening series and did not return.