Palo Alto, Calif. • The story of BYU’s regular-season finale had already been written. The final outcome of a 28-12 game late in the third quarter was a formality.
Until, on a fourth-down run, quarterback Jaren Hall went down and struggled to get up. He limped to the sidelines and never returned, immediately overshadowing a 35-26 win over Stanford.
Officially, it has been called a right ankle injury. Head coach Kalani Sitake said X-Rays on the ankle were negative.
“I think Jaren is going to be fine for the bowl game,” Sitake said. “When we were looking at him coming back [into the game] we thought it would be difficult for him to function at a high level. Felt good about it. He feels good about coming back [for the bowl].”
The fifth-year quarterback has never played a complete season for BYU since he took over as the starter in 2021. He missed the bowl game a year ago with a lower body issue and missed time in 2020 as the backup after a concussion. This year, he started all 12 games but played injured for the middle part of the season with a shoulder issue.
Hall said he “absolutely” plans to play in the bowl game, despite this injury.
“It’s a little sore, but it is precautionary,” he said. “I wanted to get out before anything happened and let the trainers do their thing.”
Without Hall in the game, Stanford nearly mounted a comeback attempt, getting within a single digits after a Brycen Tremayne touchdown. But BYU was able to run out the clock on a Cardinal defense that struggled to stop the run all night.
Overall, BYU rushed for a season-high 358 yards and over seven yards a handoff. The Cougars had 13 carries of 10-plus yards.
Chris Brooks paced the effort with 164 yards on 23 carries. Hinckley Ropati chipped in 85 yards and Hall added 69. BYU attempted just 12 passes compared with 50 rushes.
Backup quarterback Jacob Conover only threw one pass — a screen pass he ended up throwing away — in his 18 minute relief stint.
“Just felt like the offense felt really good about the run game,” Sitake said. “So we just kept going to that and didn’t complain about it.”