No. 21 BYU outlasts No. 9 Baylor in double overtime
PROVO, Utah — No. 21 BYU football took down No. 9 Baylor in double overtime, 26-20, in the Cougars’ home opener at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
A sellout crowd of 63,470 was present for head coach Kalani Sitake’s 50th win as BYU posted the program's third all-time home win in Provo over a top-10 team and the first since beating No. 1 Miami in 1990. The Cougars now have six top-10 wins all-time, with the last being when Sitake took his 2018 team into Camp Randall for a win at Wisconsin.
The game was highlighted by strong defensive performances by both the reigning Big 12 Conference Champion Bears and the future Big 12 member Cougars. After recording a pick-6 score last week, linebacker Max Tooley was again a leader in the BYU victory, notching a team-high 13 tackles. Fellow linebacker Ben Bywater added 11 tackles and one sack to a total team defensive effort that had BYU rack up four sacks, six tackles for loss, three pass breakups and five quarterback hurries.
Despite losing the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes, 25:45 to the Bears’ 34:15, BYU's defense stayed strong throughout the back-and-forth battle, totaling 89 tackles overall to Baylor's 63. The Bears ran the ball 52 times on the night.
On offense, the Cougars produced 366 total yards, including 283 yards through the air, 77 more yards than the Bears’ 289 yards of offense. Quarterback Jaren Hall finished the night 23-for-39 for 261 yards and one touchdown while also making some critical plays with his legs, rushing the ball 10 times for 28 yards. He also put his name in the receiver column with a touchdown reception thrown by wide receiver Chase Roberts.
Roberts led the Cougars with a career night, hauling in 8 catches for 122 yards and one touchdown. Keanu Hill tallied four receptions for 57 yards. On the ground, Lopini Katoa had 9 carries for 26 yards and one touchdown.
Baylor won the opening coin toss and elected to defer, giving BYU the ball first. Hall completed five passes to four different players on the drive as the Cougars drove to the Baylor 10-yard line before Jake Oldroyd kicked a 27-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead three minutes and 29 seconds into the game.
The Bears gained two first downs on their opening possession before a Ben Bywater sack slowed the drive and forced a punt. A running into the kicker penalty extended the next Cougar drive after they went three-and-out, but BYU was unable to capitalize and punted again.
Lorenzo Fauatea’s five-yard sack of Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen ended the Bears’ ensuing drive, giving the Cougars the ball back with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter. Lopini Katoa rushed for two-yards as the first 15 minutes came to a close.
Including the last play of the first quarter, BYU ran the ball three-straight plays en route to a three-and-out, bringing Ryan Rehkow back out to punt. A holding call and tough Max Tooley tackle on third-and-19 led to Baylor’s first three-and-out of the game, but the Cougars again punted after three plays.
A six-yard sack by Caden Haws and strong BYU defense forced a second Baylor three-and-out as the two teams traded empty possessions twice. The Cougars would then go three-and-out for a third consecutive drive.
Benefitting from a BYU personal foul penalty that kickstarted their next drive, the Bears picked up five first downs, eventually scored a one-yard rushing touchdown with 1:37 left in the half. Baylor’s PAT clanked off the upright, however, giving it just a three-point lead, 6-3.
After a Baylor touchback on the kickoff, Hall completed three-consecutive passes for first downs to Chase Roberts twice and Keanu Hill once, getting the Cougars into Baylor territory with just over 20 seconds remaining.
A 13-yard Hall completion to Kody Epps on third-and-6 was followed up by a 20-yard toe-tapping touchdown pass to Roberts, his first-career touchdown reception, giving BYU a 10-6 lead with two seconds in the half.
The Bears came out firing to begin the second half, capping off a nine-play, 77-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run to go ahead 13-10 with 10:53 to go in the quarter.
Converting on fourth-and-1 courtesy of a Chris Brooks run, Hall competed a 13-yard pass to Roberts before Lopini Katoa busted a first-down run. However, the BYU drive slowed just outside of the red zone, bringing Oldroyd on to tie the game at 13-13 with a 37-yard field goal at the 6:15 mark of the third.
John Nelson’s first-career sack forced a Baylor three-and-out, and a fourth-down false start gave the Cougars the ball back at the BYU 46-yard line.
Aided by a Baylor pass interference penalty that put BYU at the Baylor 39-yard line, an 11-yard completion from Hall to Brayden Cosper helped move the sticks on 3rd down and made way for some Cougar trickery.
On second down from the Baylor 22-yard line, Hall passed to Roberts in the backfield, who proceeded to swing it back to Hall. The quarterback, led by an escort of BYU offensive linemen, ran virtually untouched until just outside the goal line for the score, putting the Cougars up 20-13 with 1:22 left in the quarter.
Driving 79 yards in 12 plays, the Bears responded with a four-yard passing touchdown from Shapen to tight end Ben Sims, tying the game once more, 20-20, with 10:01 remaining.
Defensive holding and targeting penalties by Baylor extended BYU’s ensuing drive. The Cougars got down to the BU 36-yard line, but a false start penalty on fourth-and-2 forced a Rehkow punt, giving Baylor the ball back at the 25-yard line after a touchback with 5:45 to go.
Keenan Pili came up with a big stop on a third-and-5 Baylor run, getting BYU the ball back at its own 10-yard line with 2:08 left in the game. After a Hall keeper went for a first down, Katoa moved the chains on a seven-yard rush.
Hall then hit Roberts on an out route that went for 27-yards and got the Cougars down to the Baylor 19-yard line. BYU ran three plays to set up Oldroyd for a game-winning 35-yard field goal, but it went wide left. With eight seconds remaining, Baylor knelt it out to send the game into overtime.
A third-down holding call slowed the Bears in OT, who eventually settled for a 43-yard field goal that went wide right, giving BYU a second chance to win the game with any score.
The Cougars rushed the ball three-straight plays, centering the ball for Oldroyd to kick from 37-yards out, but he sent it wide left again, sending the game to double overtime.
The second overtime moved to the south end of the field, in front of the BYU student section. Beginning with the ball first, BYU was set up with first-and-goal after Hall connected with Hill for 20 yards down to the Baylor 5-yard line. Katoa punched it in for the score a play later from three yards out, but the Cougars were unable to convert on the two-point conversion, taking a six-point lead, 26-20.
Baylor gained seven yards on two rushes before an incomplete pass on third down brought up fourth-and-3, which the Bears were able to convert. Moving the chains after three-consecutive rushes, Baylor then had first-and-goal from the BYU 5-yard line.
A false start and third down stop by Micah Harper had the Bears down to their last play. Another false start penalty gave them fourth-and-goal from the BYU 11-yard line, and the Cougar defense forced Shapen’s throw out of the back of the end zone to seal the victory over top-10 Baylor.
The Cougars will travel west next weekend for a matchup at Oregon on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 12:30 p.m. PDT on FOX. Fans can also listen to live play-by-play on BYU Radio SiriusXM 143, BYURadio.org/BYU Radio App or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.