BYU QBs Hall, Romney guide Cougars to romp of USU, snapping 2-game losing streak to Aggies

LOGAN — After spending a couple of years in Cache Valley, the Old Wagon Wheel, symbolic of supremacy in the BYU-Utah State rivalry, is returning to Provo.

The Cougars, powered by redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney, recorded season-highs in points and total offense in a 42-14 thumping of Utah State Saturday night before a crowd of 25,472 at Maverik Stadium.

“I’m just happy for the players and the fans,” said coach Kalani Sitake.

Hall suffered a concussion late in the first half and gave way to Romney, who finished the game. Hall completed 12 of 16 passes for 214 yards and rushed seven times for 54 yards and two TDs.

Romney, who led BYU to an upset of No. 14 Boise State two weeks ago in his first career start, picked up where Hall left off in the second half, helping extend the Cougars’ 21-14 halftime lead. Romney completed 10 of 16 passes for 191 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

In the third quarter, when Romney threw a 12-yard TD pass to his younger brother, Gunner, it marked the first time in BYU history that two brothers have connected for a touchdown.

Sitake said after the game that the plan was to play both quarterbacks regardless Saturday night.

With the win, BYU (4-4) snapped its two-game losing streak against USU (4-4).

The Cougars rolled up 639 yards of total offense on the night. It marked BYU’s most yards in a game since 741 against Wagner in 2015.

“We’ve just got to keep building on it,” Sitake said of the offensive performance. “I liked our aggressive nature.”

BYU running back Lopini Kotoa caught four passes for 129 yards.

Meanwhile, the Cougar defense forced a season-high five turnovers. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love completed 29 of 49 passes for 394 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.

BYU’s first possession of the game resulted in a 93-yard drive, highlighted by a 25-yard reception by Micah Simon into the red zone and a 6-yard touchdown run by Aleva Hifo.

On USU’s next drive, Devin Kaufusi recovered a fumble, the first of BYU’s takeaways on the night. The Cougars, however, fumbled the ball right back after another long drive when Emmanuel Esukpa coughed up the ball on the USU 6-yard line.

The Aggies responded with a seven-play, 86-yard drive capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Love to Siaosi Mariner at the end of the first quarter to make the score 7-7.

Early in the second quarter, linebacker Kavika Fonua intercepted Love in USU territory and one play later, Hall ran for a 16-yard touchdown to put the Cougars up 14-7.

Linebacker Payton Wilgar intercepted Love late in the second quarter, setting up another BYU score. Hall completed a 27-yard pass to Moroni Laulu-Pututau on a reverse flea-flicker, then Hall ran in for a TD from seven yards out to give BYU a 21-7 cushion with 2:33 left in the half. On that play, Hall took a hard helmet-to-helmet shot as he crossed the goal line.

USU sliced the deficit to 21-14 on an 86-yard drive, culminating with a 1-yard TD run with 34 seconds left until halftime.

When BYU’s offense returned to the field in the waning seconds of the half, it was Baylor Romney taking a knee instead of Hall, who suffered an injury.

At intermission, the Cougars had 312 yards of offense, while USU had 336 yards.

Next Saturday, BYU hosts Liberty and Utah State visits Fresno State.

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