Throughout all of fall camp, BYU coaches touted the fact they had three quarterbacks that could start when the season started, and even had the quarterback race last through the entirety of camp.
The quarterback depth was tested Friday when backup quarterback Baylor Romney left the game at halftime due to concussion protocol and freshman Jacob Conover came in the second half to close out the game.
No. 13 BYU was able to hold on to beat Utah State 34-20, and hold on to the Wagon Wheel trophy. The Cougars have now opened the 2021 season on a 5-game win streak.
Season starter Jaren Hall sat out his second consecutive game with a rib injury he sustained late against Arizona State.
“Glad we were able to grind out the win,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “It wasn’t easy; Utah State — I give them a lot of credit — they made things really difficult for us to get this win. I’m just proud of our players and I’m proud of the way they made enough plays to win the game.”
The Cougars were able to quickly get an interception from the Aggies on the opening drive, and converted it into a touchdown three plays later to get on the board early.
Jake Oldroyd, who has missed the last two games and three of the four previous games due to a back injury, was back in the fold and kicked in a 49-yard field goal to easily jump out to a 10-0 lead.
The field goal was Oldroyd’s 16th consecutive make, which is a new BYU record. However, at the end of the first half, Oldroyd missed a 45-yard attempt.
By that point, the Cougars were up 24-13, but down their starting quarterback to go into halftime.
Romney finished the night having thrown for 187 yards and a score on 15 of 19 passing.
Sitake said he talked to Romney after the game, but will have to evaluate the backup quarterback over the next 24 hours before figuring out the plan for next week. As far as Hall, Sitake said the season starter was “close,” but ultimately the coaches “didn’t feel like he was good enough yet and Baylor had a better week of practice.”
“We’ll see what happens, but [Romney] obviously couldn’t come back and play the game,” Sitake said. “We had to protect him and keep him safe. Thank goodness for Jacob Conover.”
BYU was unable to help Conover in his debut as the Cougars drew penalties in each of the first three drives of the second half. The freshman was finally able to settle in, and was able to lead the offense to move 50 yards down the field and into field goal position.
“It was very surreal,” Conover said of his opportunity. “Just the moment I’ve been waiting for and it was just a great team win.”
Oldroyd then nailed a 32-yard attempt to make it a two-score game, 27-13, early in the fourth quarter.
While Utah State scored on a 90-yard drive to make it a one score game with just less than 10 minutes left in the game, BYU responded with its own score, set up by a 67-yard rush by Tyler Allgeier.
Allgeier finished the night with 208 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.
With such a heavy load, Allgeier sat out the last few plays due to how tired he was, Sitake said.
“I’m exhausted,” Allgeier said. “No, but it was a great team win. It was a great win. I’m glad we’re 5-0, but literally on to the next.”
By the end of the game, Utah State had also lost their starting quarterback to injury (ACL) and brought in its backup, Andrew Peasley.
Jakob Robinson ended up picking off Peasley to give BYU the ball back with 1:19 left in the game, and the Cougars closed out the game.
“We wouldn’t be able to win the game without him,” Sitake said.