Logan • BYU has struggled to finish games this season, but it all changed here on Saturday against Utah State.
The Cougars dominated the second half at Maverik Stadium en route to a decisive 42-14 victory over the Aggies in which they reclaimed the Old Wagon Wheel after seeing it reside in the Cache Valley for the last two years.
It was a complete game performance by BYU, which improved to 4-4 for the season. But it was outscoring the Aggies 21-0 in the second half that made the biggest impression. Second-half collapses had led to road losses at Toledo and South Florida.
“I think you give credit to the teams that we played against and made some plays, more plays than we did,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We had some things work out for us. I think, offensively, if you’re thinking about it, we were able to establish a run presence – that helps us keep teams on their heels a little bit. I think we were able to do whatever we wanted offensively.”
BYU also racked up the scores using two different quarterbacks.
Starter Jaren Hall left the field toward the end of the first half — after throwing for 214 yards on 75% passing and scoring two rushing touchdowns — due to a concussion.
Backup quarterback Baylor Romney took over for the final Cougar possession of the first half, and took a knee to go into halftime.
In the second half, Romney threw for 191 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on 10-for-16 passing.
“They told me all week just to be ready to go in, so I was prepared when I was told,” Romney said. “Right before the half, coach Grimes came up to me and asked me if I was ready. I told him I was ready. So that's when I knew at that point.”
The defense also stopped three of the six Aggies’ drives in the second half by forcing turnovers — a turnover on downs, fumble and interception. Utah State also gave up three turnovers in the first half.
While five of their previous seven games had been decided late in the fourth quarter, it was a change of pace to be able to not have to be fighting until the final minutes to try to win. Instead, the Cougars were able to pad their lead.
BYU's 42 points against Utah State is a season high.
“We’ve kept a lot of our wins close, so it was nice to show that we can put it away,” running back Lopini Katoa said.