BYU lost to the University of South Florida on Saturday, Oct. 12, and fell to 2-4 on the season. (BYU photo)

BYU football fell to the University of South Florida 27-23 on the road on Saturday, Oct. 12. Three BYU players left the game with head injuries, including quarterback Jaren Hall, who was playing his first game as starting quarterback for BYU having replaced Zach Wilson who injured his thumb in BYU’s last game against Toledo. Hall was replaced in the fourth quarter by Baylor Romney, brother of wide receiver Gunner Romney.

After a 61-yard kickoff from USF’s Spencer Shrader, BYU started off strong with a quick drive that put them in the red zone. After failing to advance further, kicker Jake Oldroyd came on to score the first points of the game with a 51-yard field goal.  

A series of short, non-scoring drives followed. After a quick BYU drive ended in a 54-yard punt, Florida’s Jordan McCloud ran five yards and fumbled the ball right into the hands of Isaiah Kaufusi. BYU’s possession didn’t last long and ended with another Oldroyd punt.

After another short drive from the Bulls and a 61-yard punt from Trent Schneider, BYU started down the field. Short plays pushed them forward a little at a time, including an 11-yard rush by Hall and an 11-yard pass to Micah Simon.

The first quarter ended with a penalty against USF as the Bulls had 12 men on the field. and BYU remained in possession.

The second quarter looked good for BYU, beginning with a 6-yard run by Emmanuel Esukpa. That was followed by a 35-yard pass touchdown pass to Dax Milne, which gave BYU a 10-0 lead with 14:29 remaining in the first half.

The Bulls’ following drive ended quickly and BYU took the ball back with 13:05 left in the half. Running back Lopini Katoa showed up for BYU’s next drive, running for 35 yards. An 11-yard run by Esukpa put the team in the red zone, and after a Esukpa rush for a short loss, a pass to Katoa for no gain and an incomplete pass to Aleva Hifo, Oldroyd returned for a 22-yard field goal. The kick was successful, putting the score at 13-0 with 9:07 left in the half.

Lopini Katoa pushes his way down the field as two USF defensive backs attempt to stop the play (BYU photo)

Skylar Southam kicked the ball 60 yards, and Bentlee Sanders returned it 19 yards. The Bulls started their next drive on the 24-yard line, and successfully pushed their way down the field. After two first-down runs by Trevon Sands, McCloud threw the ball 39 yards to Mitch Wilcox in the end zone. USF’s first touchdown of the game put the score at 13-7 with 6:01 left in the half.

Shrader kicked off 65 yards, and BYU began inching its way into the Bulls’ territory. A 12-yard run from Hall was the longest play of the drive, but slowly and surely, the Cougars put themselves in the USF red zone again. After an incomplete pass from Hall, Oldroyd came onto the field for another field goal attempt. The 28-yard kick gave BYU a 9-point lead with 36 seconds left in the half.

The following short USF drive brought the half to a close without further scoring.

USF started the second half with the ball, and slowly moved themselves into BYU territory. On a crucial third and goal, Jordan Cronkrite pushed the ball through a pileup, just breaking into the end zone, bringing the score to 16-14 with 9:44 left in the third quarter.

A 60-yard kickoff from Shrader was returned 25 yards by Katoa, and BYU began its drive at its own 30-yard line. Sione Finau ran the ball five yards, and then ran again for no gain. Then Jaren Hall took the ball 32 yards down the field, putting the Cougars in SFU territory. After the following play, a four-yard run by Esukpa, Keanu Sleapaga remained down on the field. Medics came out to look him over, and he left the game. There is not yet news on Sleapaga’s condition.

Hall ran the ball 29-yards into the end zone, and with 7:50 left in the third quarter, the score was 23-14.

Sanders returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards, and tripped and fell at the BYU 36-yard line. The Bulls failed to capitalize on the field position, and after an incomplete pass intended for Eddie McDoom, a pass interference call against USF and a rush for a loss of one yard by Kelley Joiner, Schneider returned to the field to punt.

BYU’s following drive ended with a 42-yard punt from Oldroyd, which was returned six yards by KJ Sails. After a few successful forward moving plays, McCloud was picked off by Chaz Ah You at the 17, who returned 14 yards to the BYU 31-yard line.

BYU lost the drive after Danny Jones fumbled the ball. USF’s Vincent Davis capitalized on the error and recovered the ball. In the next three plays, Cronkrite ran the ball 21 yards, putting the Bulls on the two-yard line. A rush by McCloud took it into the end zone and put the USF only two points behind with 14:57 left in the game.  

The following 63-yard kickoff from Shrader was returned 23 yards by Katoa. Hall then completed a 25-yard pass to Shumway. From there BYU moved slowly down the field. After a rushing play that gained the Cougars six yards, offensive lineman Thomas Shoaf remained down on the field. He was taken out of the game for a few plays, but did return later in the game. A seven-yard pass to Aleva Hifo was followed by a 15-yard diving catch by Gunner Romney.

In the following play, Hall rushed for a loss of one yard. A hard hit from Vincent Davis left Hall down on the field cradling his head. Hall left the game and did not return. From there BYU struggled to move forward, and Oldroyd came on for another field goal attempt. The kick swung way left and the field goal was no good.

After the kickoff, USF began taking the ball down the field a few yards at a time. Then Cronkrite broke through the BYU line and took the ball 41 yards down the field. He was on his way to the end zone but was caught from behind by Max Tooley at the 15-yard line.

A few more runs put USF at first and goal, and a three-yard run from Cronkrite took the ball into the end zone. The Bulls opted for a two-point conversion, but had to redo the play because of a pass interference call against them. They went for a one-point kick the second time around, but the ball swung right and the kick was no good. This gave USF its first lead of the game at 23-27 with 7:37 to play.

After a 57-yard kickoff from Shrader, Katoa returned the ball 22-yards. With Baylor Romney playing as quarterback, BYU began moving down the field. Baylor Romney performed well with several short runs, and a 26-yard pass to Bushman. On a crucial fourth-and-seven, Baylor Romney sent a five-yard pass to his brother, Gunner Romney, and the ball was turned over on downs.

The Bulls’ drive started with 1:36 left in the game, and BYU got the stop and used all three of its timeouts to preserve the clock. USF ended up punting the ball with 1:09 to play.

Baylor started the next drive strong with a 22-yard pass to Gunner, and a 17-yard pass to Shumway. Shumway was taken down by Devin Studstill and left the game after what looked like a hard hit to the head.

Baylor then gave several incomplete passes and was sacked for 8 yards by Antonio Grier, putting BYU in a tough fourth-and-long situation with seconds left in the game. Baylor sent the ball into the end zone towards Gunner, but it was blocked Studstill and USF sealed its win 27-23.

Shoaf left the game on the second to last play with what looked like another head injury. There’s no news yet on his condition.

Before leaving the game, Hall ran for 110 yards and completed 15 passes for a total of 148 yards, with a 65.2% passing rate. Baylor stepped in and threw six complete passes for 73 yards.

The Cougars will face off against Boise State for a homecoming match up next week Oct. 19 at 8:15 p.m.

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