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BYU ends loss to USF with Baylor Romney trying a Hail Mary

BYU went through three quarterbacks in two games and finished a loss to South Florida with Baylor Romney replacing Jaren Hall after the redshirt freshman left the game late with a suspected concussion.

As time expires, backup quarterback Baylor Romney’s end zone pass falls incomplete, and BYU loses to the USF Bulls 27-23.
As time expires, backup quarterback Baylor Romney’s end zone pass falls incomplete, and BYU loses to the USF Bulls 27-23 on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.
Robert W. Grover, For the Deseret News

TAMPA, Fla. — Redshirt freshman Baylor Romney found himself trying to beat South Florida on a last-gasp, game-winning drive Saturday in an NFL stadium and his dramatic effort fell short when defenders batted down his desperation pass in the end zone in a 27-23 BYU loss.

It was the same situation redshirt freshman Jaren Hall found himself in two weeks ago in a loss at Toledo when he replaced starting sophomore QB Zach Wilson.

“I was proud of him and I could see it in his eyes that he believed he could drive us down there and score,” said running back Lopini Katoa.

Romney’s attempt at heroism died on the knocked-down last-second pass to where tight end Matt Bushman and receiver Dax Milne were positioned with two USF defenders.

Romney was put in this position when Hall, in his first career start, left the game late in the fourth quarter with the Cougars trying to mount a comeback drive to win. Hall left the game with a concussion and could not return after being evaluated to pass the concussion protocol.

Hall finished with 15 of 23 passing for 148 yards and one touchdown. He did not have a turnover and rushed for 83 yards, including a dramatic 29-yard touchdown run. His lone TD pass came to Dax Milne, a second-quarter play that put the Cougars up 10-0.

Romney ran on the field after BYU relinquished leads of 13-0 and 23-14 at the end of the third quarter and then failed to score at all in the final quarter as the Bulls scored two touchdowns, the latest coming with 7:37 left in the game.

Romney got two drives, and his first ended up dying on a five-yard pass to his brother Gunner Romney after 13 plays to USF’s five, short of a first down on fourth-and-7.

His second began on USF’s 26 with 1:09 left in the game. He hit Gunner for 22, ran for 8, hit Talon Shumway for a gain of 17 and an interference call gave him a first and 10 at USF’s 12. But after two incompletions and sack, his attempt at a fourth-down game-winner with 4 seconds to play didn’t have a chance.

“He got a lot of reps and played really great in practice. I felt when he came in he did exactly what he needed to do. We had a chance down there when time expired,” said offensive lineman James Empey.

Head coach Kalani Sitake said Hall will be evaluated Monday to determine when he can return. Wilson was at the game, his throwing hand in a cast, and said he was not allowed to be interviewed.

If Hall cannot pass protocol, BYU will prepare on Monday with Romney as the starter and Joe Critchlow his backup against Boise State.