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BYU football report card: Cougars earn solid marks for resilient win over Utah State

Brigham Young Cougars running back Tyler Allgeier scores on Utah State Aggies in Logan on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.
Brigham Young Cougars running back Tyler Allgeier scores on Utah State Aggies in Logan on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

No. 13 BYU’s first test in front of a hostile road crowd this season came with some bumps, but the Cougars made enough plays at key moments to drive home a 34-20 victory over Utah State on Friday night at Maverik Stadium.

More importantly, the win allowed BYU to move to 5-0 on the season.

Here’s how the Cougars graded out in their win over the Aggies.

Offense

Tyler Allgeier lifted the BYU offense throughout the night, finishing with a career-high 218 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It was much-needed for a Cougar offense dealing with several players missing time due to injury, including at quarterback.

Utah State entered the game allowing 200 yards rushing to its opponents, so it wasn’t a surprise to see Allgeier have a big game. The sophomore running back, though, made a habit of breaking off big runs at critical moments, and he finished the night with 240 yards of total offense, adding three receptions for 22 yards.

His 59-yard touchdown run in the first half came on a third-and-2 play just minutes after Utah State cut BYU’s lead to 17-10, and then in the fourth quarter, Allgeier broke off a 67-yard run to the Aggie 1, which led to him scoring a 1-yard touchdown two plays later.

Moments before, the Aggies had trimmed the BYU lead to 27-20, but that final Allgeier touchdown gave the Cougars a much-needed cushion down the stretch.

Speaking of the Cougars’ QB situation, Baylor Romney got his second straight start in relief of an injured Jaren Hall. Romney had BYU’s offense rolling in the first half, as the Cougars scored on four of their five possessions — the only non-scoring possession of the half was a missed field goal attempt as the half ended.

Romney completed 15 of 19 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown, but he left the game after hitting his head hard on the turf late in the first half.

That allowed freshman Jacob Conover, the team’s third-stringer to start the year, to come in at quarterback for the second half. He initially struggled — BYU netted just 6 yards on his first three drives, all of which ended with punts — but he composed himself and led a field-goal scoring drive to put BYU up 27-13 early in the fourth quarter.

On that drive, Conover completed three passes, including a 16-yarder to Allgeier on a third-and-2 play in Aggie territory.

Even with BYU dealing with so many personnel issues, the Cougars never turned the ball over in a hostile environment. There were some missteps — BYU gave up two sacks and 11 tackles for loss — but the Cougars were able to put up 466 yards of total offense, averaging 7.1 yards per play in a balanced offensive attack.

Four BYU receivers finished with 39 or more receiving yards, led by Puka Nacua’s 62 receiving yards on three catches.

Grade: B

Defense

While the Cougar offense was in the spotlight much of the night, BYU’s defense went about its business and played a pivotal role in the victory.

The Aggies entered the game averaging 529.8 yards of total offense per game, but BYU held Utah State well under that average by giving up 336 yards Friday night. The Cougars were especially stingy against the run, allowing the Aggies just 22 rushing yards on 35 attempts.

BYU made Utah State, which has relied on chunk plays to help drive its uptempo attack, earn the yards and points they did get. The Aggies’ two touchdown drives were evidence of that, as Utah State had to run 18 plays over 75 yards to get its first touchdown in the second quarter.

Then in the fourth quarter with the Aggies trailing by two scores, USU eventually got BYU’s lead down to 27-20 on a 28-yard touchdown catch by Deven Thompkins, but the Aggies had to drive 90 yards in 14 plays to make it happen.

Thompkins, one of the nation’s best receivers, had solid numbers with nine catches for 125 yards, but BYU was able to keep Utah State’s starting quarterback Logan Bonner from getting into a rhythm much of the night before he left in the fourth quarter with an injury.

Bonner completed 21 of 41 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns with one interception before being replaced by Andrew Peasley.

The Cougars struggled to get off the field on third downs, as Utah State converted 11 of 21 of its third-down attempts, but BYU did come up with one of the key stops of the night when Chaz Ah You stopped Utah State’s John Gentry for no gain on a fourth-and-1 at the BYU 33 in the third quarter when the Aggies could have cut the BYU lead to one score.

The Cougar defense also forced two key turnovers at critical junctures. Malik Moore made a brilliant one-handed interception on Utah State’s first drive, leading to BYU’s opening touchdown. Then late in the game, former Aggie Jakob Robinson picked off Peasley on Utah State’s final drive.

In a rivalry game like this, those timely plays proved to be difference-makers.

Grade: B+

Special teams

Punter Ryan Rehkow had perhaps the biggest impact for the Cougars on special teams, with four punts for a 46.8-yard average. When Conover’s first three possessions ended in punts, Rehkow helped flip the field and keep Utah State from taking advantage while ripping off a pair of 50-plus yard punts.

His most impressive kick of the night came with two minutes to play, as he angled a 39-yard punt down to the Utah State 2-yard line, giving the Aggies poor field position down two scores.

Hobbs Nyberg’s 22-yard punt return in the first quarter helped set up a Cougar field goal that put BYU ahead 10-0. That ended up being the lone return of consequence from either team.

Jake Oldroyd, who’s been dealing with back issues, returned to action for the Cougars and hit a pair of important field goals — from 49 yards in the first quarter and 32 in the fourth. His lone blemish came in missing a 45-yard attempt at the end of the first half, which snapped his personal streak of 16 straight made field goals.

Still, BYU’s special teams often stepped up when they needed to in the rivalry win.

Grade: B