Deja vu: BYU blows second half lead and starting QB leaves game

Jaren Hall (3) prepares for his historic start.

For the second straight game, the BYU Cougars travelled east, built a two-score lead, saw their starting quarterback leave the game early, surrendered a lot of rushing yards in the second half, and lost the game.

The South Florida Bulls scored on a three-yard run with 7:37 left in the fourth quarter to take the lead for the first time.

Reserve quarterback Baylor Romney led BYU into the red zone twice in the final minutes, but neither time the Cougars were able to reach the end zone.

BYU was trying to make what was already an historic day even more so. Jaren Hall became the first African-American quarterback to start for the Cougars. However, BYU still hasn't tasted victory on Florida soil.

BYU lead for most of the game. The Cougars received the opening kickoff and got on the board with a 51-yard Jake Oldroyd field goal.

Both teams had two three and outs. Sandwiched in the middle of the four series with no first downs was a one-play South Florida drive where the quarterback coughed up the football. It landed right in Isaiah Kaufusi's hands.

BYU found the end zone for the first time on the second play of the second quarter. Hall completed a beautiful deep ball to Dax Milne for a 35-yard touchdown to make the score 10-0.

After the Cougar D forced its third three and out of the game, the BYU ground game came alive. Other than a six-yard completion to Matt Bushman, the rest of the 63 yards gained to move to the USF five-yard line came on run plays. At one point, Lopini Katoa picked up 35 yards on three consecutive plays.

The drive had the Bulls reeling to the point they felt it necessary to use two timeouts. In a way, the timeouts paid off. The drive stalled for BYU, and Oldroyd kicked a 22-yard field goal to keep it a two score game, 13-0.

On the ensuing drive, USF found a way to successfully attack the Cougar D on the ground. The Bulls put together an eight-play, 86-yard drive. Six plays were runs. They found the end zone on a 39-yard bomb.

USF had only 72 yards passing for the game. The Bulls QB missed several wide open receivers deep. BYU hit him on this touchdown pass, which typically makes a pass become an errant throw. In this case, it may have adjusted the throw in USF's favor considering how poorly he threw the deep ball the rest of the game.

With the lead cut to six, BYU pounded the ball down the field, again, with several runs and short passes. This time, the drive stalled at the USF 11-yard line. A third Oldroyd field goal with 36 seconds left in the half made it a two score game, again, 16-7.

Not finishing those final two drives with touchdowns would hurt BYU in the second half. That was an eight point difference, which helped keep USF in the game.

Finishing drives, however, was just one of BYU's problems in the second half. USF took a page out of Toledo's playbook and ran the ball down BYU's throat. The Bulls identified a weakness in the Cougar defense. They continually ran the ball to the right, and BYU could not stop it.

A strong run game allowed USF to score a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. BYU once led 13-0, but it was now 16-14.

The Cougars answered with a touchdown drive of their own. Hall ripped off a 32-yard run, and two plays later scored on a 29-yard jaunt.

That pushed the lead back to nine, 23-14. This cushion combined with the USF coaches thinking they still needed to throw the ball gave the impression BYU was in good shape to get it's first win in the Sunshine State.

Chaz Ah you intercepted a pass to end a scoring threat. BYU could not move the ball, but at least the turnover would allow the Cougars to flip field position. Except, the BYU punter dropped the snap and could not get off a kick.

That completely nullified what was gained from the interception. With 54 seconds left in the third quarter, USF took over at the BYU 23. Four run plays later, USF was in the end zone to close the gap to 23-21.

Hall was able to get the offense moving again with a 25-yard completion to Talon Shumway. BYU moved to the USF 22-yard line, but Hall's pass on third down was incomplete. That sent Oldroyd on the field to attempt his fourth field goal of the game. The hold was bad. The laces were not out, and the kick was no good.

What was worse than the hold, Hall took a huge hit on that third down play. He would not return as he was evaluated for a concussion. He finished the game 15 of 23 for 148 yards passing, and 16 carries for 83 yards with one touchdown on the ground and through the air.

USF called nine straight run plays, and with 7:37 to play scored a touchdown to take its first lead of the game, 27-23. They were penalized for offensive pass interference on the two-point conversion. After being backed up 15-yards, the PAT was missed.

Baylor Romney took the helm at quarterback for the Cougars, who were now desperate for points. Romney got some help moving the ball with good runs by Sione Finau, but Romney contributed as well. Highlighted by a 26-yard pass to Matt Bushman, Romney drove the Cougars inside the 10-yard line. With less than two minutes left, Romney's completion on fourth down to his brother Gunner was two yards short of the first down.

BYU still had all three time outs, and knowing USF was going to run, the defense forced a quick punt to give BYU one more chance with 1:09 to play.

The Romney brothers connected again on first down for 22 yards. Baylor then scampered for eight more. He hooked up with Shumway for 17 yards the next play. Shumway took a nasty hit that should have been called for targeting. Defensive pass interference was called the next play as an apparent make up call for missing the targeting.

BYU was now at the USF 12-yard line. There was still enough time to take four shots at the end zone. Passes were incomplete on three of the tries, and Romney was sacked once.

Time expired on the final throw to the end zone. USF won 27-23.

BYU had 439 yards of total offense to USF's 315. The Cougars also dominated time of possession holding the ball for 37:30.

Romney finished 6 of 10 passing for 73 yards.

Dayan Ghanwoloku pregame.

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