SAN DIEGO — Linebacker Kyle Van Noy recovered a fumble by San Diego State quarterback Adam Dingwell in the end zone early in the fourth quarter for the game’s first touchdown and returned an interception of a Dingwell pass later in the quarter for a second score in Brigham Young’s 23-6 victory in the Poinsettia Bowl today at Qualcomm Stadium.
Van Noy hit Dingwell as he was attempting to pass, then recovered the loose ball with 12 minutes, 32 seconds to play.
A Dingwell fumble, the second of his four fourth-quarter turnovers, led to the Cougars’ second touchdown 17 seconds later. Jordan Johnson recovered Dingwell’s fumble on the Aztecs’ first play after the kickoff and Jamaal Williams ran 14 yards for a touchdown one play later.
Van Noy returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown with 6:09 left.
Playing before a crowd announced at 35,442, San Diego State (9-4) took a 6-0 lead on 27- and 23-yard field goals by Chance Marden in the first and second quarters.
Justin Sorensen kicked a 23-yard field goal for Brigham Young (8-5) as time expired in the first half.
Dingwell had three passes intercepted in addition to his two fumbles.
“They’re a good defense, but ultimately I have to take care of the ball,” said Dingwell, who completed 12 of his 29 passes for 144 yards. “I feel terrible about the way I played tonight and I feel horrible sending the seniors out this way. That’s not what they deserve.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again for the future seniors of this program.”
Adam Muema ran for a game-high 103 yards on 26 carries for the Aztecs, who were out-gained 296 yards to 263 and trailed 17-13 in first downs.
San Diego State converted two of 15 third downs, while the Cougars converted 10 of 19.
Brigham Young quarterback James Lark completed 23 of 42 passes for 244 yards and had two passes intercepted.
Aztecs coach Rocky Long said he thought the game’s turning point was a penalty for an illegal block during an second-quarter interception return by Eric Pinkins, which would have given San Diego State the ball at the Cougars’ 14-yard line.
Instead, the drive started at Brigham Young’s 29. A holding penalty and Muema’s four-yard loss pushed the Aztecs back to the Cougars’ 36-yard line, where Seamus McMorrow’s punt went into the end zone.
“I believe if we would have scored a touchdown that time we would have been in the lead the rest of the night,” Long said.
Van Noy was named as the game’s defensive most valuable player and Cougars receiver Cody Hoffman, who caught a game-high 10 passes for 114 yards, was the offensive most valuable player.
However, Long said punter Riley Stephenson was Brigham Young’s most valuable player as his punts forced San Diego State to begin drives inside its own 6-yard line four times, including twice at its own 1-yard line and once at their own 2-yard line.
The loss ended the Aztecs’ seven-game winning streak, their longest since a seven-game winning streak from Nov. 15, 1980-Oct. 10, 1981, and ended their hopes of their first 10-victory season since 1972.
“We had a good season, it didn’t end the right way,” Long said. “Our team was better than anybody gave us credit for at the beginning of the year and when we were 2-3, everybody was giving up on us.
“We won seven (more) games and got into a bowl game. That’s a positive season if you ask me.”