Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 | 9:09 p.m.
SAN DIEGO — Linebacker Kyle Van Noy forced a fumble in the end zone and recovered it for a touchdown, and scored on a 17-yard interception return, both in the fourth quarter, to lead BYU to a 23-6 victory over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday night.
The big plays swung the momentum for the Cougars (8-5) in what had been a tedious defensive struggle. San Diego State (9-4), playing in the hometown bowl for the second time in three years, missed the chance for its first 10-win season since 1977 and had its seven-game winning streak snapped.
Van Noy, who played for Reno's McQueen High School, scored the game's first TD when he came free and hit Adam Dingwell's arm as he started to pass in the end zone, forcing and recovering a fumble for a 10-6 lead. The play was ruled a fumble, and the call stood after a video review.
Dingwell fumbled the snap on SDSU's next play from scrimmage and it was recovered by Jordan Johnson at the 14. Jamaal Williams scored on a run up the middle on the next play, BYU's second TD in 17 seconds.
With 6:09 left, Van Noy intercepted Dingwell's pass and weaved through traffic and into the end zone. Van Noy was selected the game's defensive MVP.
Dingwell finished with five turnovers, including three interceptions. Four of his turnovers were in the fourth quarter.
As big as the defensive plays were for the Cougars, their punt unit came up huge in pinning down the Aztecs four times in the second half. They downed two punts by Riley Stephenson at the 1, one at the 2 and another at the 3.
Until Van Noy and Williams scored, the game was a field position struggle.
San Diego State led 6-3 at halftime thanks to Chance Marden's field goals of 27 and 23 yards. Justin Sorensen kicked a 23-yarder for BYU.
San Diego State's Eric Pinkins intercepted Riley Nelson's pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter but the score was negated by a penalty for blocking below the waist. SDSU ended up punting from the BYU 36.
James Lark, who started at quarterback for BYU, completed 23 of 42 passes for 244 yards and was intercepted twice.
BYU's Cody Hoffman caught 10 passes for 114 yards and was named offensive MVP.
Dingwell completed 12 of 29 for 144 yards. Adam Muema ran 26 times for 103 yards.