Cougars win 52-26 on Senior Day over Utah Tech
PROVO, Utah — Quarterback Jaren Hall’s six touchdowns lifted BYU to a 52-26 win over Utah Tech at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday's last home game of the year.
Hall, threw for 465 yards, going 23-of-35 with five touchdowns. He also had five rushes for 13 yards, including a 10-yard house call for six total touchdowns.
The win marked BYU's sixth of the year, getting the Cougars bowl eligible for the 17th time in 18 seasons.
Wideout Keanu Hill was Hall’s main target, as Hill tallied six catches for 137 yards. The Bedford, Texas, native hauled in three touchdowns and averaged 22.8 yards per catch on the afternoon. Running back Christopher Brooks rushed for 102 yards, his second most yards in a game this season,
The Cougar defense stiffened in the second half, holding the Trailblazers to just one second half score. The BYU defense forced three, three-and-outs in the second half, while allowing only 138 yards of total offense and forced Utah Tech punts on six-straight possessions.
Linebackers Keenan Pili and Pepe Tanuvasa led the defense with seven tackles a piece, Pili recording five solo tackles and Tanuvasa tallying four. Defensive back Jakob Robinson created the lone turnover for the Cougars when he picked off a second-quarter Utah Tech pass which resulted in a BYU touchdown on the ensuing drive.
The Cougars finished with 676 yards of total offense, 8.9 yards per play, were 3-of-3 in red zone trips, possessed the ball for 32:11 and recorded three tackles for loss in the win.
On the first Utah Tech possession, which began at the Trailblazer 12-yard line, Victor Gabalis found Deven Osborne for a 54-yard gain to the BYU 34. Despite the long gain, the Cougar defense held the Trailblazers to a field goal with 8:47 left in the opening quarter to open the scoring.
On the second BYU drive, the Utah Tech defense forced a fumble on the second play, giving them a short field beginning at the BYU 34. The Trailblazers moved the ball to the 11-yard line before converting a 21-yard field goal to take a 6-0 lead with 7:12 to go in the first quarter.
Late in the quarter, Hall found Hill for a 30-yard back-shoulder, toe-tap catch to put the Cougars inside the 25-yard line. After a holding penalty backed the Cougars up, Hall again found Hill in the left-corner of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown, his fourth of the season.
After Utah Tech got a pass behind the defense for a score to go up 13-7, BYU responded with a three-play, 1:09 drive that culminated in a 59-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Chase Roberts.
The BYU defense forced a third and 11 from the Utah Tech 24 yard line, Gabalis found Joey Hobert for a 24-yard gain and a Trailblazer first down. Utah Tech turned to Jeter Fenton on four of the next five plays for 28 yards on the ground before Gabalis again found Hobert for a nine-yard touchdown reception to give the Trailblazers a 20-14 lead with 5:17 left In the first half.
Hobbs Nyberg returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards up the right sideline to the BYU 45, where the Cougars would set up shop. Hinckley Ropati carried the ball on the first two plays of the drive for nine yards, before a direct snap to Nacua gave BYU a first down at the Utah Tech 45-yard line. Hall capped off the drive with a 45-yard touchdown to Hill, his fifth of the season and second of the afternoon.
Utah Tech’s next drive only lasted two plays before Robinson picked off Gabalis to give the Cougars one more drive before the half.
The Cougars began the drive at their own 16 yard line with Puka Nacua quickly picking up a first down on the second play, moving the ball to the 29-yard line. After Hall avoided a sack and scampered for a gain of nine, he found Brayden Cosper for a 23-yard gain up the seam to move the Cougars to the Utah Tech 36.
Hall found Hill on the next play for an 18-yard gain to move BYU into the red zone, to the Trailblazer 18-yard line before hitting Isaac Rex up the right sideline to move inside the 10 yard line. After two runs from Ropati moved the ball to the Utah Tech four yard line, Hall again connected with Hill to complete the first half hat trick, giving the Cougars a 28-20 lead going into the break.
This marked the first three-touchdown half for a BYU wide receiver since Cody Hoffman hauled in three touchdowns against New Mexico State on Nov. 24, 2012. It also is the first hat trick for a BYU wide out since Dax Milne did it against Houston on Oct. 16, 2020.
On the second BYU drive of the second half that was plagued by a torrent of penalties, the Cougars scored on a 13-yard quarterback keeper from Hall to take a 35-20 lead with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter.
The BYU defense held true in the third quarter as it forced two Utah Tech three-and-outs and held the Trailblazer offense to 26 total yards in the third period.
After the defense forced another Utah Tech three-and-out, the Cougars wasted no time as they used three plays to go 58 yards for a touchdown to stretch the lead to three scores. Brooks took BYU down to the Trailblazer 32-yard line before Hall found Rex for a 32-yard touchdown up the right sideline, Rex's fourth touchdown of the year.
After a disappointing defensive first half, the Cougar defense came through in the second half as it forced a third-straight Utah Tech three-and-out to give Hall the ball on the BYU 39 with 8:49 to play. The 10-play, 46-yard scoring drive included 36 rushing yards for Brooks, 11 from Ropati and was paid off by Jake Oldroyd with a 32-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 45-20 lead.
The Trailblazers tacked on a late touchdown before Jacob Conover led a four-play, 39-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a Terence Fall 25-yard touchdown trot to cap the 52-26 BYU victory. It marked Fall’s first career touchdown, and he becomes the first European-born player to score a touchdown in the history of BYU football.
Up next, the Cougars will face Stanford on the road next Saturday night at 8 p.m. PT to cap off the regular season schedule. The game will be broadcast on FS1 on BYU Radio SiriusXM 143, BYURadio.org/BYU Radio App and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.