Provo • All it took was one half.
No. 17 BYU opened up its last home game of the season having scored on five consecutive drives, and scored on five of six first-half drives en route to a 59-14 win over FCS opponent Idaho State on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“We knew that if we took care of business that we should be OK, but you always want to respect your opponents and do the right things and play the right way — and I thought our guys did,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.
After the Cougars ran on all cylinders and put the game out of reach early, they rested a good amount of starters in the second half. While beneficial after playing 10 consecutive games, the reserves struggled a bit at times and played a somewhat sloppy second half.
Throughout the last two quarters, BYU punted three times, turned the ball over on downs once and had another fumble. The Cougars also committed three false start penalties throughout the second half that cost them extended drives.
But it was a learning experience.
BYU’s staff was able to give younger guys real game-time experience rather than running up the score with key starters.
“I thought it was really good for a bunch of young guys to get reps — meaningful reps, though,” Sitake said. “In the second half, I think we played a lot of guys, a lot of reserved players. And I liked that our sideline had a lot of energy from the starters. And I liked the stop at the end, I thought that was really good for our young guys.
“Obviously, there’s some mistakes — it’s that way every game. We’ll look at it and see what we can improve on, but grateful we got the win.”
Still, starting quarterback Jaren Hall only needed a half to put up stats comparable to a full game of play. Hall threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns while completing 80% of his passes.
On the ground, Hall rushed for 13 yards and a score on four carries.
Backup quarterback Baylor Romney came in at the start of the second half, in which he threw for 89 yards and one touchdown while completing 42% of his passes. With eight minutes left, freshman Jacob Conover took over at quarterback.
At the end of the day, BYU could afford to play with its depth and give some players valuable minutes because of the way it put the game out of reach early.
Now, the Cougars head into their bye week before closing out the regular season with two consecutive road games.
“I think we can achieve a lot as a team this year,” defensive back Matt Criddle said. “Even though the season is coming to an end, there’s a lot of opportunities.”