It took nearly four hours, but No. 21 BYU gutted out a defining 26-20 double-overtime win over No. 9 Baylor on Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Here are three takeaways from the late-night game:
BYU learned some lessons from its loss to Baylor last year
Much has been made about Baylor running for 303 yards in its 38-24 win over BYU last year in Texas.
This time around, Baylor ran for 152 yards, though those yards were much tougher to come by for the visitors.
The Bears averaged 2.9 yards per carry on 52 rushing attempts on the night, as they trusted their offense to the ground attack over the arm of sophomore quarterback Blake Shapen much of the night.
When it counted most, the Cougars came up big.
BYU stopped a promising Baylor drive late in regulation, then forced a field goal attempt in overtime. In the second overtime, the Cougars made Baylor fight hard for its yards before Shapen’s fourth-down heave went out the back of the end zone and sparked a BYU celebration.
BYU had four sacks in the game, and was able to overcome some untimely penalties and allowing Baylor to convert 9 of 18 third downs.
All totaled, the Bears accounted for 289 yards, but the BYU defense rarely gave up sizable gains and delivered a signature performance.
Jaren Hall shined on the big stage and found a new connection
A lot of pressure was put on BYU junior quarterback Jaren Hall, as the Cougars’ rushing attack netted just 83 yards on the ground against Baylor.
Hall delivered on the ESPN telecast, though.
Hall completed 23 of 39 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass (more on that in a minute).
He ran for 28 yards on 10 attempts, with a couple big runs late in the fourth quarter to extend a drive when a stop could have given Baylor the last chance to score in regulation.
Hall led some timely touchdown drives — one after BYU went down late in the first half and another in the third quarter after Baylor rallied to tie the game — and looked calm and poised in the process.
He also showed a strong connection with a new wide receiver, redshirt freshman Chase Roberts, as Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney missed the game due to injury.
Roberts finished with eight catches for 122 yards, and that included three catches for 45 yards on BYU’s touchdown drive right before halftime, as well as a 37-yarder late in the fourth quarter that set up a field goal attempt.
His toe-tapping 20-yard touchdown grab with just two seconds left in the first half was his first college TD.
And oh yeah, Roberts threw a touchdown pass to Hall on a double-throw toss back to the quarterback for a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
No big deal.
This one could have been over much sooner
The Cougars could have won the game three different times.
Instead, BYU junior kicker Jake Oldroyd missed a 35-yard field goal at the end of regulation, then missed again on a 37-yarder in the first overtime.
If either of those kicks would have split the uprights — both were wide left — they would have won the game.
It was a rare couple of negative moments for the Cougars, though Oldroyd has been reliable through much of his career.
Baylor also had its own missed field goal in the first overtime, and missed its first extra point attempt of the night. That was arguably the most costly miss of the night.
BYU also went conservative in the first overtime knowing it needed just a field goal to win. Instead of trying for a touchdown, the Cougars were content to set up Oldroyd’s second potential winner.
In the end, though, it didn’t matter as BYU delivered in the second overtime. Hall hit Keanu Hill for a 20-yard pass in second OT, and two plays later, Lopini Katoa scored the game-winner.
The defense then delivered the win with a memorable stand.