BYU running back moms cheer Cougars on to victory in Madison
It’s not easy for the mom of a BYU football player from Milpitas, California, to be there to support her son.
But when the Cougars and senior running back Squally Canada took the field at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday, Stacy Canada wasn’t going to be anywhere else.
She had only to look to the iconic BYU fan next to her — Nicolle Thompson-Williams, mom of former Cougar star running back Jamaal Williams — to see the value of making the sacrifices to be there for her son for his final year of college football.
“It’s awesome,” Stacy Canada said during halftime of the stunning 24-21 Cougar upset of the No. 6-ranked Badgers. “I’m very proud of Squally and I’m going to be at every game. I’m following in Nicole’s footsteps.”
Thompson-Williams took advantage of being in Wisconsin anyway to see BYU hit the gridiron again before watching her son play for the Green Bay Packers against Minnesota on Sunday.
“I’m having a blast,” Thompson-Williams said. “I couldn’t wait to put on my BYU gear, my blue lipstick and everything. I brought a whole bag. Stacy (Canada) was like, ‘Why is this bag so heavy?’ and I was like, ‘Because I couldn’t decide what I was going to wear.’”
Even though Jamaal Williams graduated after the 2016 season, Thompson-Williams embraced her support of the Cougars and BYU supporters in turn embraced her as a fan favorite.
The best part, she said, is enjoying being a fan.
“I love it,” Thompson-Williams said. “Being here with Stacy, screaming and hollering with all the other moms. I just have fun.”
Stacy Canada said that being at a game with Thompson-Williams is a treat.
“We just go out there and have fun, cheering the team on,” Stacy Canada said. “I like being around her.”
And what a game to be at.
Squally Canada finished the game with 11 carries for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He had runs of 46 and 44 yards to lead to scoring drives for the Cougars.
It was also the second multi-touchdown game of the season for him and third of his career, but once again he just wanted to talk up the BYU offensive line.
“The offensive line did great,” Canada said. “I’m proud of those guys. They blocked their tails off and gave me lanes to run down. When you have holes, you have a great game as a running back. It made my job easy.”
Squally Canada made one of the biggest offensive plays of the game when, after Wisconsin tied the game early in the fourth quarter, he set the team up for the final points with his 46-yard run.
“I was just trying to take the pressure off of everyone,” he said. “I like those situations and I think the O-line likes those as well. We want the game to fall on us. Those guys made great blocks up front. All week (running backs coach AJ Steward) said there was going to be a cutback. There may only be one but it was going to be a big cutback. That was the cutback I needed.”
His only regret after the big BYU victory was that he couldn’t slip away to see his friend Jamaal Williams in action.
“I wish I could stay another night and go watch Jamaal play tomorrow,” Canada said. “I don’t have classes on Monday but we do have practice. We are going to get back to work and get ready for the next opponent.”
Sweet taste of success
BYU has 25 wins over Power 5 teams since 2003, the most of any non-Power 5 team in that timespan. With the victory, the Cougars broke a tie with Navy (24).
The Cougars also snapped Wisconsin’s 41-game non-conference home winning streak. It was the fifth-longest in the modern era (since 1946).
The Cougars were without a pair of captains for the game as senior fullback Brayden El-Bakri and senior linebacker Butch Pau’u both didn’t play for BYU. Cougar sophomore wide receiver Neil Pau’u was also out.
Fortunately for the Cougar defense, it had a pair of seniors to back up Butch Pau’u in Adam Pulsipher and Rhett Sandlin. BYU relied on freshman fullback Darius McFarland to step into El-Bakri’s spot, while freshmen Dax Milne and Gunner Romney stepped in to replace Neil Pau’u.
BYU won the toss for the first time in 2018 and ended up getting the ball to start the second half … The Cougar captains were from the offensive side of the ball: Tanner Mangum, Squally Canada and Micah Simon …The American flag was carried out by running back Lopini Katoa, while offensive lineman Thomas Shoaf carried the Wisconsin state flag. The team flags were carried by QB Jaren Hall, RB Darius McFarland and WR Dax Milne … The alumni flags were carried out by former BYU defensive lineman Jason Buck (1985-86) and defensive back Mark Brady (1977-81) ... The weather in Madison was 87 degrees with sunny skies and high humidity … announced attendance was 80,720.