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BYU unleashes its passing game, trounces Troy, 48-7

BYU wide receiver Dax Milne celebrating scoring on a 70-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the third quarter during the Cougars’ game against Troy at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020.
BYU photo

PROVO — In BYU’s resounding 55-3 season-opening win at Navy almost three weeks ago, the Cougars ran roughshod over the Midshipmen, compiling more than 300 yards on the ground.

In No. 18 BYU’s home-opener Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium — with no fans in attendance due to the global pandemic — the Cougars trounced Troy through the air.

The 19-day layoff between games certainly didn’t bother quarterback Zach Wilson, who unleashed a lethal weapon of a passing game.

Wilson completed 23 of 28 passes for a career-high 392 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for two more TDs, in leading BYU to a dominating 48-7 victory against the overmatched Trojans.

The Cougars improved to 2-0 on the season while Troy fell to 1-1.

It marked the most yards thrown by a BYU quarterback in a game since Christian Stewart recorded 433 in a win over Cal in 2014. It also marked the fourth time that Wilson has accounted for four touchdowns in a game, dating back to 2018.

Dax Milne caught seven passes for 140 yards, with a touchdown, and Gunner Romney had five grabs for 138 yards. As an offense, BYU accumulated 664 yards of total offense.

Meanwhile, the Cougar defense limited Troy to 181 total yards, including 19 rushing yards.

Leading 24-7 at halftime, BYU picked up where it left off early in the third quarter when Wilson completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Milne. And just like that, the Cougars led 31-7.

Troy appeared to cut its deficit to 31-14 but a holding call negated a 23-yard touchdown pass and the Trojans failed to put points on the board.

On BYU’s subsequent drive, Wilson engineered another scoring drive, capped by his 2-yard TD run as the Cougars increased its advantage to 38-7.

Fullback Masen Wake, who scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, found the end zone on a 10-yard run with 14:54 remaining in the game. At that point, it was BYU 45, Troy 7.

Later, Jake Oldroyd’s 20-yard field goal put the Cougars up 48-7.

Still, it was an inauspicious start for BYU. After forcing a punt on Troy’s opening series, Milne muffed a punt, which was recovered by the Trojans’ Jaylon Beasley.

Though Troy took over at the BYU 22-yard line, it couldn’t capitalize as the Cougars stopped the Trojans on fourth down at the BYU 13.

The two teams traded punts before the Cougars got on the board on a 1-yard run by Wake, who scored his first career touchdown with 1:26 left in the first quarter.

On that drive, which covered 64 yards, took eight plays and chewed 7:08 off the clock, Wilson started to find his groove. It was highlighted by a 23-yard catch by Lopini Katoa and a 24-yard catch by Tyler Allgeier.

At the end of the first quarter, Wilson had completed 5 of 5 passes for 79 yards. And he was just getting started.

The Cougars struck again early in the second quarter, propelled by a beautiful, 41-yard diving catch by Romney to the 1-yard line. One play later, Wilson plunged into the end zone to give BYU a 14-0 lead with 11:03 left in the period.

Later in the quarter, Wilson connected with Romney again for a 52-yard pass play — a career-high for Romney — to set up another TD. Romney entered the weekend leading the nation in yards-per-catch (33.5). And Saturday, he continued producing at a similar pace.

BYU capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Isaac Rex. It was Rex’s first career TD catch. With 1:49 remaining in the half, the Cougars led 21-0.

Through almost six quarters of the season, BYU hadn’t given up a touchdown — until Troy’s final possession of the second quarter.

The Cougars called a timeout in hopes of getting the ball back but that plan backfired as Troy completed a 53-yard pass play from Gunnar Watson to Tray Eafford that put the Trojans in scoring position. Troy ended up scoring on a 2-yard run by B.J. Smith to make it 21-7.

The Cougars capped the first half with a 54-yard field goal by Oldroyd. That tied Oldroyd’s career-best set last season against Washington. BYU took a 24-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

At intermission, Wilson had completed 16 of 19 passes for 246 yards and Romney had four receptions for 101 yards.

BYU is scheduled to host Louisiana Tech next Friday.