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BYU upsets No. 14 Boise State, 28-25, to snap 3-game losing streak

This was the kind of performance, and result, that BYU, and coach Kalani Sitake, desperately needed — and probably one very few people saw coming. 

Brigham Young Cougars tight end Matt Bushman goes in for a touchdown against the Boise State Broncos during an NCAA football game in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.
Brigham Young Cougars tight end Matt Bushman goes in for a touchdown against the Boise State Broncos during an NCAA football game in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

PROVO — This was the kind of performance, and result, that BYU, and coach Kalani Sitake, desperately needed — and probably one very few people saw coming.

The Cougars, who entered the game mired in a three-game losing streak, knocked off one of their rivals, No. 14 Boise State, 28-25, on a cold, rainy late Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

In its Homecoming game, BYU played with a confidence, poise and passion that had been sorely lacking over the past month, which featured surprising losses at Toledo and South Florida. It was the Cougars’ first victory since a Sept. 14 upset of USC in Provo.

With redshirt freshman Baylor Romney making his first career start, the BYU offense found a rhythm and executed a few, key Boise State-like trick plays. The defense contained the run, forced turnovers and made big stops.

The Cougars (3-4) led 28-10 late in the third quarter but the Broncos (6-1) rallied. In the end, though, BYU held on for the hard-fought victory.

The Cougars seized their first lead of the game early in the second half when redshirt freshman Sione Finau scored on a 46-yard touchdown run on the Cougars’ opening drive of the second half. BYU went up 14-10 with 13:03 left in the third quarter. It marked the Cougars’ longest run from scrimmage this season.

On its next possession, Boise State drove into BYU territory but missed a 36-yard field goal.

The Cougars remained aggressive on their next drive — highlighted by a 39-yard completion from Romney to Talon Shumway. Then, facing fourth-and-one at the BSU 27, Romney faked the QB sneak, dropped back and found Matt Bushman all alone over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown pass to lift BYU to a 21-10 advantage with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter.

Later, following a Jackson Kaufusi interception, the Cougars scored on another trick play as Romney handed the ball off to Lopini Kotoa, who handed off to Aleva Hifo on a reverse. Hifo pitched the ball back to Romney, who completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Bushman to make it BYU 28, Boise State 10.

The Broncos missed a field goal but later scored a touchdown, and added a two-point conversion, to cut the deficit to 28-18 early in the fourth quarter.

With 3:17 remaining, BSU scored another touchdown and at that point, BYU led 28-25.

On the Cougars’ ensuing possession, Romney appeared to pick up a first down on fourth-and-one on a QB sneak. But BSU challenged the spot and the officials ruled that Romney was stopped short. Austin Kafentzis entered the game at quarterback and got the first down with 2:17 left.

From there, BYU ran out the clock to record the upset.

On the opening possession of the game, Boise State quarterback Chase Cord, also making his first career start, moved the ball with relative ease against BYU’s defense. The Broncos drove 70 yards in nine plays, culminating with a four-yard end around by CT Thomas for a touchdown to put the Broncos up 7-0.

The wind and rain returned as Romney trotted onto the field for his first snap as BYU’s starting quarterback. It wasn’t always pretty, but Romney ended up guiding a touchdown drive of his own, capped by a four-yard run by Katoa to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:34 left in the first quarter.

The Broncos led 10-7 at intermission.