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Highlights, key plays and photos from BYU’s home-opening 48-7 win over Troy

BYU defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga (95) sacks Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Provo.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool

PROVO — No. 18 BYU had little trouble throwing its way past Troy on Saturday night, winning 48-7 in the Cougars’ home opener at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

BYU was simply dominant, putting up 664 yards of total offense compared to 181 for Troy in a game without fans in attendance.

The victory lifts the Cougars to 2-0 on the season, as they played for the first time in 19 days.

Three takeaways

Wilson and the passing game hums

Quarterback Zach Wilson had a phenomenal night for the Cougars, completing 23 of 28 passes for a career-high 392 yards and two touchdowns in three quarters of work. He also had two rushing touchdowns in leading an efficient BYU offense, which scored on eight of 11 drives — including six touchdowns — after the Cougars’ first drive ended in a punt.

For the first time since the Cougars’ win over Boise State in 2015, BYU had two wide receivers with 100-plus receiving yards. Dax Milne had seven receptions for 140 yards and scored on a 70-yard touchdown to start the third quarter, while Gunner Romney added 138 receiving yards on five catches and had grabs of 44 and 52 yards.

Defense is dominant once again

The BYU defense had another stellar effort, after holding Navy to just three points in the Cougars’ opener. This time, BYU held Troy to 2 of 14 on third downs and gave up just 19 rushing yards.

The Cougars also had four sacks and held the Trojans to 3.4 yards per play. BYU had a significant advantage in time of possession, with a 44:12 to 15:48 edge.

Individually, Keenan Pili paced the BYU defense with nine tackles, including six solo, and Micah Harper had seven tackles and a tackle for loss in his first start. Khyiris Tonga also had two sacks and a pass breakup, while Payton Wilgar added four tackles, two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.

First-time scorers

It was a night of firsts for several BYU players. That included two Cougars who had their first collegiate scores.

Fullback Masen Wake punched in a 1-yard run for a touchdown for BYU’s opening score late in the first quarter, then added a 10-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Tight end Isaac Rex also had his first score as a Cougar, catching a beautiful pass from Wilson for a 10-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give BYU a 21-0 lead.

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End fourth quarter

BYU 48, Troy 7

BYU kept the offense going with Baylor Romney and the backups in the fourth quarter, as the Cougars finished with 664 yards of total offense.

7:30, fourth quarter

BYU 48, Troy 7

Baylor Romney takes over for Zach Wilson, and he leads the Cougars on an 11-play, 63-yard drive that ends with Jake Oldroyd’s second field goal of the night, this one from 20 yards out.

The Cougars are just shy of 600 yards total offense at this point, with 597.

14:54, fourth quarter

BYU 45, Troy 7

BYU adds to its lead as Masen Wake gets his second touchdown of the night, this one on a 10-yard run to start the fourth quarter. That caps a six-play, 60-yard drive for BYU, its third touchdown drive of the second half.

3:50, third quarter

BYU 38, Troy 7

The Cougars drive 64 yards in seven plays to score after Troy’s missed field goal, and it feels like Zach Wilson should sit out with BYU firmly in charge.

Speaking of Wilson, he finishes off the touchdown drive with a 2-yard score, his second rushing touchdown of the game. BYU rushed the ball on five of the seven plays on this drive, what will likely be a common theme the rest of the way.

7:17, third quarter

BYU 31, Troy 7

Troy looked like it had capitalized on stopping BYU on a fourth down in Trojan territory, but a 22-yard touchdown was wiped off the board by a Troy penalty. The Trojans then missed a 53-yard field goal, and the Cougars retain their 24-point lead.

14:27, third quarter

BYU 31, Troy 7

The Cougars strike quick in the second half, as Dax Milne catches a 70-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilson on the second play of the half. That puts Wilson at 316 passing yards and Milne at 124 receiving yards.

Halftime

BYU 24, Troy 7

BYU has largely dominated the first half, pushing its lead back to three scores on a Jake Oldroyd 54-yard field goal to end the half.

The Cougars have put up 318 yards of total offense, to just 133 for Troy. Zach Wilson has thrown for 246 yards on 16 of 19 passing with a touchdown, while Gunner Romney has four catches for 101 yards.

Defensively, Keenan Pili has a team-high six tackles for the Cougars while Khyiris Tonga has added two sacks.

1:05, second quarter

BYU 21, Troy 7

The Trojans got into scoring position quickly before the half with a 55-yard pass from Gunnar Watson to Tray Eafford down to the BYU 15. Four plays later, the Trojans scored a touchdown on a 2-yard B.J. Smith run to cap a seven-play, 75-yard drive.

1:49, second quarter

BYU 21, Troy 0

Tight end Isaac Rex has his first touchdown as a Cougar, as he was on the receiving end of a 10-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilson where the quarterback showed nice touch in getting the pass over the defender for the score.

A Gunner Romney 52-yard catch helped set up that score.

11:03, second quarter

BYU 14, Troy 0

BYU doubles its lead, after Zach Wilson comes up with a trio of big plays. First, the quarterback ran for 2 yards on a fourth-and-1 at the Troy 44, then he hit a diving Gunner Romney for a deep pass down to the Trojans’ 1. On the next play, Wilson carried the ball in for the 1-yard score.

The Cougars now have touchdowns on two of their three drives and have 172 yards of total offense to 70 for Troy.

1:26, first quarter

BYU 7, Troy 0

It took nearly a quarter, but BYU strikes first, scoring on a Masen Wake dive up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down.

That caps an eight-play, 64-yard drive as the Cougars score on their second drive of the game.

Here’s a look at a Khyiris Tonga sack on Troy’s drive before the Cougars’ score:

8:34, first quarter

Troy 0, BYU 0

Zach Wilson took a big sack and BYU’s first possession of the game reaches midfield before stalling. They’re still scoreless in Provo, though Lopini Katoa had a pair of nice runs on the drive and already has 22 rushing yards.

12:06, first quarter

Troy 0, BYU 0

BYU’s defense has two stops before the Cougars has even touched the field. After the BYU defense got a stop on the first drive of the game, the Cougars’ Dax Milne dropped the ensuing punt and Troy recovered at the BYU 22. The Cougar defense stood tall, stopping the Trojans short of converting a fourth-and-1 at the BYU 13.

Pre-game

Deseret News BYU football beat writer Jay Drew provides an update on a few Cougar positions:

The Deseret News’ Jeff Call shared an image of what the stadium looks like without fans today, prior to kickoff:

With no fans allowed, the Cougars did a Virtual Cougar Walk instead:

Yes, BYU is wearing the Love One Another T-shirts again. Remember them from the Navy game? Here’s the details.

Need a football fix before the game? BYU football’s main account shared video of the team warming up:

It also provided a scenic view of tonight’s atmosphere:

OK, it’s “loosely” BYU related, but former Cougar wide receiver Mitch Mathews — he of Nebraska game fame — shared an awesome moonwalk video a couple hours before kick.