BYU football walked away with the Old Wagon Wheel after dominating Utah State 42-14 in Logan, Utah, on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Utah State started with the ball but turned it over almost immediately. After a punt put BYU on its own seven-yard line, the team charged down the field in a 93-yard drive lasting 4:36. The drive was littered with long passes from Jaren Hall, BYU’s second-string quarterback who was back on the field after missing the last game against Boise State due to a head injury. Hall threw a 20-yard pass to Talon Shumway and a 15-yard pass to Aleva Hifo, while Lopini Katoa weaved through the Utah State defense for a 20-yard gain. The drive was topped off with a 25-yard pass to Micah Simon which was followed by a six-yard rushing touchdown by Hifo that put the score at 7-0 with 9:22 left in the first quarter.
The Aggies following drive lasted longer but only yielded fruit for BYU as Utah State traveled 49 yards down the field before BYU’s JJ Nwigwe forced a fumble from Gerold Bright. Devin Kaufusi recovered the ball and the Cougars’ offense took the field.
BYU’s drive looked strong, and a 36-yard pass to Dax Milne landed the Cougars on the Utah State six-yard line. BYU was set for a second touchdown until an ensuing play when the Aggies forced Emmanuel Esukpa to fumble and the ball was recovered on the Utah State three-yard line by Justus Te’i, who ran it 11 yards to the Aggies 14.
Utah State took the ball down the field, traveling 86 yards in 2:17, ending with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Siaosi Mariner. With 18 seconds left in the first quarter, the game was tied 7-7.
Going into the second-quarter, BYU struggled to move the ball and Jake Oldroyd came out to take a 31-yard punt.
The ball didn’t stay with the Aggies for long as two plays into their drive, Aggies quarterback Jordan Love was picked off at the Utah State 32-yard line by BYU’s Kavika Fonua, who returned the ball 16 yards. Hall then ran the 16 yards into the end zone and with 11:53 left in the first half, BYU lead 14-7.
The next two drives of the game ended with punts before Love was picked off for a second time, this time by Payton Wilgar at the BYU 12-yard line. Wilgar returned the ball 17 yards to the BYU 29, and the Cougars began a 71-yard drive to the endzone. A 27-yard pass to Moroni Laulu-Pututau helped the team move forward, and the drive ended with a seven-yard rush courtesy of Hall, extending the BYU lead to 21-7 with 2:33 left in the half.
The Aggies’ next drive started with a 34-yard pass to Bright and was followed by two incomplete passes before Love found Caleb Repp for a 15-yard gain. After the play, BYU’s Chaz Ah You left the field due to an apparent injury, but he returned to the game in the second half. Slowly, the Aggies continued down the field, and with 34 seconds left on the clock, Bright pushed the ball into the endzone, putting the score at 21-14.
BYU sent Baylor Romney onto the field to play quarterback to start the second half as Hall was placed into concussion protocol. Romney got the team started with a 10-yard run, a 13-yard pass to Dax Milne and a 30-yard pass to Gunner Romney. The drive also featured a 13-yard run by Sione Finau and ended with an 11-yard pass to Micah Simon for a touchdown. BYU lead 28-14 with 11:47 left in the third quarter.
Utah State’s next drive ended quickly with a 40-yard punt from Christopher Bartolic. BYU found the end zone on its ensuing drive, marching 68 yards down the field over the next 2:53 of play. The drive ended with the first sibling touchdown in BYU history as Baylor Romney connected with his brother, Gunner, for a one-yard score, putting BYU ahead 35-14.
Utah State pushed back down the field but ended its next drive with a 49-yard punt from Bartolic. BYU took advantage and quickly found the red zone with a 24-yard pass to Katoa and a 28-yard run by Finau. However, a pass into the end zone intended for Hifo was intercepted by Utah State’s Cam Lampkin.
The Aggies quickly moved into BYU territory with a 52-yard pass to Jordan Nathan, and the third quarter ended with Utah sitting on the 7-yard line.
What looked like a seven-yard touchdown pass to start the fourth quarter was quickly nullified because of an ineligible Utah State receiver. This pushed the Aggies back to the 12-yard line, and two incomplete passes put the Aggies on the 12-yard line. Love completed an 11-yard pass to Jordan Nathan leaving the Aggies one yard short of the end zone, resulting in a turnover on downs.
The Cougars’ drive almost ended with a punt by Oldroyd, but Utah State was penalized for roughing the kicker and BYU got an automatic first down. BYU continued moving down the field with a few short passes before a Katoa reception was good for a 77-yard gain. Katoa finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown run that brought the BYU lead to 42-14 with 9:31 left in the game. This was the first touchdown the Cougars scored in the fourth quarter of a game since they played USC on Sept. 14.
Utah State fans began trickling out of the stadium as the game continued. The Aggies moved slowly down the field, and after three incomplete passes, Bartolic came on for a 29-yard punt. The kick was muffed by Hifo, and Utah State’s Riley Burt recovered it on the BYU 12-yard line. The Aggies were unable to capitalize on this opportunity, however, as two plays later Austin Kafentzis forced a fumble from Love, and Isaiah Kaufusi recovered the ball at the BYU 11.
Fourth-string quarterback Joe Critchlow took the helm of the BYU offense for the first time since 2017 when he played against Hawaii. The drive ended with a 47-yard punt from Jake Oldroyd with 2:15 left in the game. Utah State pushed its way down the field but a Tanner Beau interception halted the stop with eight seconds remaining in the game, giving BYU a 42-14 win.
Romney and Hall threw a combined total of 405 yards during the game, while Love threw for 394 yards and three interceptions. Finau ended the game with 76 yards on the ground, while Katoa finished with four catches for 129 yards and a touchdown in addition to his 42 yards on the ground.