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3 takeaways from No. 23 BYU’s 27-17 win over No. 19 Arizona State

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) runs with the ball during a game against Arizona State.
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) runs with the ball during an NCAA college football game against Arizona State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

BYU’s strong start to the 2021 season rolled on Saturday night, as the No. 23 Cougars outclassed No. 19 Arizona State in a 27-17 victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

With the win, the Cougars improve to 3-0 on the season — with all three wins coming against Pac-12 South opponents.

The Cougars score late to seal another win

In BYU’s three wins to start the year, the Cougars have built double-digit leads, only to see them cut to single digits late in the game.

While BYU relied on field goals to extend their leads in victories over Arizona and Utah prior to Saturday night, this time the Cougars wrapped up the win by sticking the ball in the end zone.

Backup quarterback Baylor Romney’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Rex with 1:19 to play proved the clincher and gave the Cougars their first double-digit win of the year.

This team knows how to grind out a win

Arizona State outgained BYU in total yards 426 to 361 but that didn’t matter, as the Cougars found ways to get key stops or timely scores when it mattered most.

The Sun Devils used a solid ground attack to score 10 points in the third quarter to make it a 21-17 game. BYU then utilized the same idea to run the clock down late. On the Cougars’ final TD-scoring drive, BYU ran the ball 11 times on a 12-play, 77-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock.

The Cougar defense forced Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels into two interceptions, including one at the BYU 19 when ASU could have taken an early lead. That helped lead to the Cougars scoring back-to-back touchdowns in the second quarter.

ASU was also its own worst enemy, committing 16 penalties for 121 yards, while BYU had just three penalties for 25 yards.

BYU’s offense still hasn’t played its best game yet, and it hasn’t mattered

BYU starting quarterback Jaren Hall threw his first two interceptions of the season, and the Cougars’ offense has yet to put together a full four quarters in a game.

Even with BYU still trying to find its rhythm offensively, though, the Cougars showed once again they have more than enough weapons to be a dangerous team this year.

Hall threw for 214 yards and two scores, while two key pass catchers in the 2020 season — Gunner Romney and Isaac Rex — had big nights. Romney caught six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Rex had two receptions for 18 yards and two touchdowns, his first two scores of the year.

Tyler Allgeier again turned in a top performance, churning up 69 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He also made the play of the early season, chasing down Merlin Robertson and forcing a fumble after Robertson intercepted Hall in ASU territory late in the third. Hall picked up Robertson’s fumble, and that change of possession twice on one play was a turning point in the win.

The Cougars also showed moxie when Baylor Romney was asked to throw on third-and-goal with BYU leading 21-17 with just over a minute to play. Romney delivered a clutch touchdown pass to Rex, and it sealed the Cougar victory.