Chase Roberts won the one-throw tryout a few weeks ago in the middle of BYU’s preseason training camp.

That’s the reason the former American Fork star was picked to engineer the gadget play that resulted in a 22-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Jaren Hall, a key play in the No. 21 Cougars’ 26-20 win over No. 9 Baylor Saturday night at packed-to-the-gills LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“I have never thrown a touchdown pass in my life, no,” Roberts said. “That was the first time.”

“They gave us each one shot. I threw a good spiral, and they put me in there and I was like, OK, I am going to do it. I am glad we did it and executed it well. It was cool to see.” — BYU receiver Chase Roberts on his touchdown pass to Jaren Hall

A couple of days into August, coaches hatched the trick play — a backwards pass to a receiver, followed by a throw back to the quarterback — and asked which receivers could throw the football reasonably well.

“They gave us each one shot,” Roberts recalled in the wee hours Sunday morning when asked about it by the Deseret News. “I threw a good spiral, and they put me in there and I was like, OK, I am going to do it. I am glad we did it and executed it well. It was cool to see.”

Saturday’s first home win over a top-10 team for BYU since it upset No. 1 Miami 28-21 in its second game of the 1990 season was Roberts’ coming out party, of sorts, although coaches have been saying since last year that the returned missionary is going to be a star.

Roberts obviously got more playing time because WR1 Gunner Romney and WR2 Puka Nacua missed the game due to injury. Head coach Kalani Sitake didn’t rule out either receiver playing this week when the now No. 12 Cougars travel to Oregon to take on the No. 25 Ducks (1:30 p.m. MDT, FOX).

“This stuff happens. It happens when, I guess, when everybody is questioning what we are going to do (without Romney and Nacua),” Sitake said. “Chase Roberts is a great player. He just hasn’t had all his opportunities. We love Puka and Gunner, but we talk about our depth quite often. I thought Chase Roberts did a great job; I thought Kody Epps did a great job, Brayden Cosper did a great job, Keanu Hill (too). All those guys played really well — Dallin Holker, Isaac Rex. Those guys played really well, too.”

But none as well as Roberts, who had a career-high 122 receiving yards on eight catches and his first TD catch as a Cougar. Many more will follow, BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said during camp.

“I thought the backs (Chris Brooks and Lopini Katoa) caught the ball out of the backfield efficiently,” Sitake said. “The thing I was really impressed with is we took care of the football and that paid off in this type of game. It was a back and forth game. I am just glad we made that play on fourth down (in the second overtime).”

Speaking of the trick play — the name of which Roberts and Katoa declined to divulge — Hall became the first BYU QB to both throw and catch a touchdown pass in the same game in program history. Steve Young was the last BYU QB to catch a touchdown pass, notching one in the 1983 Holiday Bowl, a 21-17 win over Missouri.

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Roberts and defensive lineman Fisher Jackson said the Cougars made a “huge” statement with the win.

“With Jaren leading the team, his leadership skills, and the other leaders we have on the team, we are always confident going into any game, whether it is a top-10 ranked team, whether it is the last ranked team, that we are going to go and win the game and that we are going to put points on the board, and our defense is going to do their job,” Roberts said.

“So I think right now we have done that. We have shown that we can compete and we can win, and we will bring that confidence and that energy into every game, and teams will be scared to play us because of that energy, that confidence, that bond we have as a team. So it was a huge statement, for sure, this game.”

Hill caught four passes for 57 yards, Epps caught three for 28, and Brooks caught three out of the backfield, for 13 yards.

Roberts said coaches “kept it quiet” all week regarding the status of Nacua and Romney.

“So we kinda just always just focused on our games, and (believed) whatever does happen, we are going to go perform, we are going to go put points on the board,” Roberts said. “And that was what coach (Roderick), coach Fesi (Sitake) said to do. They had no doubt and they had all the confidence in the world is us, that whoever is out there — Gunner, Puka — the other seven or eight guys we have in the receiving corps, we are going to go make some plays and put some points on the board. We were just confident in that.”

‘We are here to shake up college football’

The Cougars made a major statement Saturday, no doubt. Baylor put up only 289 yards, meaning for the second straight game the Cougars held an opponent under 300 yards of offense. That’s good.

BYU promised defensive improvement this season and so far the Cougars have delivered.

“We are here to compete,” Jackson said. “I think we have a lot of sleepers. I don’t think a lot of people look at BYU and see a team that is ready to go out there and win and win every game they play. But that’s what we are here to do. We are here to shake up college football. I mean, we are sick of seeing the same four teams (in the playoffs). I think there is more than just us.”

Turning attention to No. 25 Oregon

A week after Oregon was thrashed 49-3 by No. 1 Georgia, the Ducks took out their frustrations on FCS school Eastern Washington, pounding the Eagles 70-14 Saturday night in Eugene. Transfer quarterback Bo Nix completed 28 of 33 passes for 277 yards and five touchdowns.

The Ducks rolled up 604 yards at Autzen Stadium and allowed just 187. Oregon has been established as a 3-point favorite over BYU.

It is up in the air whether Romney or Nacua will be available in a week. Defensive end Tyler Batty suffered an abdominal strain during the game against Baylor and didn’t return to action. Sitake said it was a tough, physical, hard-hitting game.

“The season is long. We have to get ready for the next one. My job is to keep these guys humble and keep working,” Sitake said. “I don’t know if we were humble enough last year. We always talk about our culture of love and learn. And it is important that we look at the mistakes that were made, things we can improve on, and make sure that we perform better next week when we play Oregon.”

Cougars on the air

No. 12 BYU (2-0) at No. 25 Oregon (1-1)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT

Autzen Stadium

Eugene, Oregon


Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM