No. 13 Cougars outlast Trojans in the Coliseum
LOS ANGELES — No. 13 BYU football weathered a late USC comeback to take down the Trojans 35-31 at the Coliseum on Saturday.
Leading for the majority of the game, the Cougars (10-2) faced a 31-28 deficit early in the fourth quarter before taking the lead back with just under four minutes remaining. Running back Jackson McChesney's number was called and he rumbled seven yards into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
USC (4-7) threatened again in the final minutes, but defensive back Kaleb Hayes came up with a crucial 4th-down stop deep in BYU’s territory to seal the victory for the Cougars.
Quarterback Jaren Hall finished 20 of 32 for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Wideout Keanu Hill hauled in four passes for 72 yards and one touchdown. Fellow receiver Puka Nacua also added three receptions for 42 yards and one touchdown.
Running back Tyler Allgeier led Cougar receivers with five receptions. On the ground, he went for 111 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns, his sixth 100-yard game of the year. McChesney finished with three carries, 17 yards and the eventual game-winning score.
Linebackers Max Tooley and Ben Bywater led the BYU defense with 13 total tackles each. Tooley finished with nine solo tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss while Bywater added four solo tackles.
USC took the opening kickoff 62 yards down to the BYU 34-yard line. The Trojans picked up a first down and had gotten to the 11-yard line but the Cougar defense held strong and forced a field goal with 11:20 to go in the first.
BYU quickly marched down the field, going 75 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 28-yard pass from Hall to Puka Nacua to give the Cougars a 7-3 lead with 7:24 left in the quarter.
Two empty USC possessions sandwiched an empty BYU possession, and the Cougars got the ball back with 3:10 remaining. BYU picked up two first downs on its ensuing drive and Allgeier nearly picked up a third before the quarter ended.
The Cougars went for it on 4th-&-1 and converted, extending the drive. A false start penalty stalled the BYU possession and Jake Oldroyd hit a 31-yard field goal, but the Trojans were called offsides, bringing up another 4th-&-1. Going for it once more, Allgeier would punch it in from nine yards out, putting the Cougars up 14-3 with 11:34 to go in the half.
Answering with a nine-play, 72-yard drive of their own, USC made it 14-10, BYU, at the 8:06 mark of the second quarter as quarterback Jaxson Dart rushed for a six-yard touchdown after initially fumbling the snap.
A 36-yard completion from Hall to Masen Wake highlighted the Cougars’ next drive as Allgeier rushed for a five-yard touchdown to make it 21-10 with 5:45 remaining in the second.
Forcing another Trojan three-and-out, BYU got the ball back just 1:21 later and had picked up two first downs before Hall was picked off, allowing the Trojans to drive 54 yards and kick a 33-yard field goal as time expired, cutting into the Cougar lead at 21-13.
Coming out of the half, BYU put together a quick four play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a deep 41-yard pass from Hall to Keanu Hill and the Cougars were up 28-13 with 11:37 remaining in the third quarter.
USC kept it close, coming back with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to draw within eight at 28-20, with 7:12 left in the third.
After a BYU three-and-out, the Trojans got a field goal on their ensuing possession to make it 28-23 with 3:45 to go in the quarter.
The Cougars drove to the USC 27-yard line, but Hall was sacked on third down, taking BYU out of field goal range and bringing Ryan Rehkow on to punt.
Spanning the final two plays of the third quarter going into the fourth, USC marched 91 yards in 12 plays, taking the lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass and going ahead by three after a successful two-point conversion to make it 31-28, USC at the 11:03 mark of the quarter.
Looking to tie or take the lead back, the next Cougar drive began with three first downs, but Hall’s pass was intercepted in the end zone, giving the Trojans the ball back with 8:14 remaining in the fourth.
BYU capitalized after forcing a Trojan three-and-out as Allgeier and Hall rushed the Cougars down the field. Jackson McChesney came in for Allgeier during the possession and ran it three times, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown to put BYU back on top, 35-31 with 3:57 left in the game.
Dart and USC drove to the BYU 15-yard line before facing a 4th-&-6 with 44 seconds remaining. Hayes and the Cougar defense stepped up, stopping Trojan receiver Gary Bryant Jr. just a yard short of a first down to force the turnover on downs and allow BYU to kneel out its fifth Pac-12 win of the season.
Improving to 10-2 on the year the Cougars will await their bowl destination following the conclusion of next week’s conference championship games.