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Baylor Romney starts at QB in place of injured Jaren Hall, comes out firing early

Hall sustained an injury late in BYU’s 27-17 win over Arizona State. Romney filled in and threw a game-sealing touchdown pass to Isaac Rex.

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Baylor Romney (16) sets to pass as BYU and Liberty play an NCAA football game in Provo, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. BYU won 31-24.
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Baylor Romney (16) sets to pass as BYU and Liberty play an NCAA football game in Provo, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. BYU won 31-24.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It turns out that Jaren Hall’s injury in BYU’s 27-17 win over No. 19 Arizona State was more serious than he expected it to be.

The Cougars’ starting quarterback was replaced in the starting lineup Saturday night against South Florida by backup Baylor Romney.

Hall reportedly has bruised ribs from the hit he took with about a minute remaining in the win over the Sun Devils. He said after the game that he had the wind knocked out of him.

Romney is no stranger to starting, having started in two games two years ago, wins over Boise State and Liberty. He was Zach Wilson’s primary backup last year.

Romney got off to a phenomenal start. After BYU’s first three possessions, his passer rating was 265.0 and the Cougars were leading 21-0.

Romney’s first throw was to his brother, Gunner, and covered 49 yards. He also threw a 55-yard strike to Puka Nacua in the first quarter.

Coincidentally, Romney made his first appearance in a BYU uniform two years ago in a 27-23 loss to the Bulls in Tampa, Florida. Romney entered the game in the fourth quarter after Hall sustained a concussion.

Hall started that game for Wilson, who had sustained a fractured hand the week before against Toledo.

Romney, who is from El Paso, Texas, completed 24 of 35 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown last year. In 2019, he was 54 of 85 for 747 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions.

More injured starters sidelined

BYU’s defensive line was also thinner Saturday night, as defensive end Tyler Batty and defensive tackle Atunaisa Mahe missed the game with undisclosed injuries.

At cornerback, Kaleb Hayes started in the place of Isaiah Herron, who left the ASU game early last week and did not return. Herron was playing in the place of Keenan Ellis, still out after suffering a concussion in the opener against Arizona.

As expected, Ben Bywater started at middle linebacker in the place of Keenan Pili, who sustained an ACL tear in the win over ASU.

There was some good news on the injury front — linebacker/safety George Udo dressed for a game for the first time this season.

Two TFLs to start

BYU recorded tackles for loss on USF’s first two plays, as Gabe Summers and Payton Wilgar got into the backfield to down Brian Battie and Jaren Mangham, respectively.

Tyler Allgeier picked up 26 yards on his first two carries, and passed Fred Whittingham on BYU’s career rushing yardage list.

Briefly

On ESPN’s College GameDay show Saturday morning, analyst Lee Corso called BYU the best non-Power Five team in the country, a statement that likely will rile up No. 8 Cincinnati, which will also join the Big 12 soon. … Byron Rex, Mike Empey, Justin Ena and Jim Freeland carried the alumni flags onto the field. Rex (Isaac), Empey (James) and Freeland (Blake) have sons on the team. … Temperature at kickoff was 72 degrees, with a slight breeze out of the south. … Utah Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanović attended the game.