BYU football: Ranking the best rushing performances in Cougar history (video)

By: Jay Yeomans

Published: July 2, 2018

While much of the recognition that BYU has gained on the gridiron has been because of an excellent passing attack, the Cougars have also done plenty of great things in the running game as well.

There have been plenty of 1,000-yard rushers, all-conference selections (when that was a possibility), All-Americans and even a Doak Walker winner. Many of those special backs have delivered some of the most memorable performances in school history, busting off huge runs and carrying the Cougars to big wins.

And it’s not just the running backs who have had great rushing games either. In fact, some of the most magical games on the ground by the Cougars have come from the legs of a quarterback.

Here is a look at the best-of-the-best of those games, the most impressive and unforgettable rushing days in BYU history.

10. Squally Canada, Nov. 10, 2017, vs. UNLV

Canada delivered one of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal campaign as he gashed the Rebels for 179 second-half yards as the Cougars knocked of the Rebels 31-21. All told, he finished with a career-high 213 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to lead BYU to its third win of the season.

9. Jeff Blanc, Oct. 25, 1975, vs. Wyoming

Blance carried a dominant Cougar rushing attack as he produced his best outing in a BYU uniform in a 33-20 win over the Cowboys. He totaled 215 yards rushing on 36 carries including three first-half touchdowns in the important conference win.

8. Curtis Brown, Oct. 4, 2002, vs. Utah State

Brown had one of his best days as a Cougar as BYU registered a 35-34 come-from-behind victory of the Aggies. He came through with 217 yards rushing yards and three scores (two in the third quarter) as BYU overcame a 27-point halftime deficit to come away with the one-point win.

T-6. Curtis Brown, Oct. 29, 2005, vs. Air Force

Brown had a fourth quarter for the ages as the Cougars beat the Falcons 62-41 in the high-scoring affair. He found pay dirt four times, including three times in the fourth quarter while running for a career-high 219 yards as BYU evened its record at 4-4.

T-6. Jamaal Williams, Nov. 30, 2013, vs. Nevada

Williams had one of his most dominating days in a BYU uniform as the Cougars overcame a slow start to outlast the Wolf Pack, 28-23. The school’s all-time leading rusher averaged 14.6 yards per carry on just 15 attempts to finish the day with 219 yards. His biggest play of the day came early in the third when he busted off a 66-yard touchdown run to put BYU on the board.

5. Pete Van Valkenburg, Oct. 7, 1972, vs. Long Beach State

“Fleet Pete” had his best rushing day as a Cougar as BYU overcome an early deficit to knock off Long Beach State, 38-27. Van Valkenburg carried the ball 19 times for 247 yards, including touchdown runs of 64, 73 and 3 yards to give coach LaVell Edwards the first road win of his career.

4. Ronney Jenkins, Oct. 24, 1998, vs. San Jose State

Jenkins went beast mode from start to finish as the Cougars held on to beat the Spartans, 46-43. He carried the ball 31 times for a then BYU running back record 250 yards while punching it into the end zone four times. He also registered a receiving touchdown to tie the school record for touchdowns in a game.

3. Taysom Hill, Sept. 7, 2013, vs. Texas

Hill picked apart Longhorns defense with his legs as the Cougars demolished Texas on the ground in a 40-21 win. Despite carrying the ball just 17 times, Hill managed 259 of BYU’s 550 yards rushing and busted off touchdowns runs of 68, 20 and 26 yards.

2. Eldon Fortie, Sept. 29, 1962, vs. George Washington

Fortie ran all over George Washington, setting a school rushing record that would last 54 years, in a 13-12 loss. “The Phantom” carried the ball 20 times for 272 yards and scored touchdowns of 6 and 75 yards, but a pair of missed extra points cost the Cougars dearly in the one-point loss.

1. Jamaal Williams, Sept. 30, 2016, vs. Toledo

Williams had the best rushing day in school history, and the Cougars needed every bit of it to outlast the Rockets, 55-53, in one of the most entertaining shootouts in recent memory. He carried the ball 30 times for 286 yards and scored touchdowns of 1, 2, 14, 48 and 62 yards before Rhett Almond sealed the deal with a 19-yard field goal.



9 thoughts on “BYU football: Ranking the best rushing performances in Cougar history (video)

    1. Good catch. The “best” rushing performances of all time need not be limited to total yardage. Perhaps a minimum of yardage total, yards per carry, and the competition would be better. . I don’t consider Jeff Blanc with 215 yards on 36 carries against Wyoming to be a top 10 performance for example.

      Luke belongs in the top 10 for sure. He was the difference against Utah in 2001 with 17 carries for 169 yards.


  1. #3 was the best rushing performance bar none. Taysom simply dissected a highly touted Texas team with 259 yards on just 17 carries.

    His display of speed, power, and finess were simply jaw dropping. I could hardly believe what I was seeing.


  2. Luke Staley was a consensus All-American, and was recognized in 2001 as the best college running back in the nation. In 2001, under new head coach Gary Crowton, the Cougars started the season with a 12-0 record and led the NCAA in scoring (46.8 points per game) and total offense (542.9 yards per game). In 11 games, Staley rushed for 1,582 yards and 24 touchdowns (both totals broke school records). His rushing average (8.1 yards per carry) led the NCAA, and his 143.8 rushing yards per game ranked third nationally. Staley added 32 receptions for 334 yards and four touchdowns; he led the nation in total touchdowns (28) and scoring (15.5 points per game). Surely there was at least one game he would have made this list.


    1. Staley was amazing and deserves plenty of recognition for what he did at BYU. I have him at No. 1 in my rankings of the best season by a running back.

      He is also my No. 1 running back at BYU all time.

      As for this list, his 196-yard game and his 207-yard game just missed the cut when it comes to be top 10 in rushing yards in a game.


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