BYU wins shootout over USC, 35-31, to complete 10-2 regular season

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Brigham Young running back Tyler Allgeier (25) falls in to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California in Los Angeles, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – It wasn’t easy, but the BYU Cougars got to 10 wins this year by holding off USC at the Coliseum Saturday night, 35-31.

Jaren Hall passed for 276 yards and two touchdowns, Tyler Allgeier rushed for 111 yards and a pair of scores and No. 13 Brigham Young rallied to defeat Southern California 35-31 Saturday night after blowing an 15-point, third-quarter lead.

BYU (10-2) trailed 31-28 with 11:03 remaining after former Corner Canyon High star Jaxson Dart’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Gary Bryant Jr. and 2-point conversion. But the Cougars regained the lead with 3:57 to go on Jackson McChesney’s 7-yard TD run.

USC (4-7) drove to the BYU 15 in the final minute, but Bryant came up a yard short on a pass from Dart on fourth-and-6 and turned the ball over on downs with 38 seconds remaining as Kaleb Hayes made the tackle.

“It was looking pretty bad, but once we regained our composure, I was confident we could come back and get the win,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “USC was bringing a lot of physicality to the game. We had a bunch of guys chip in. We knew we were going to get USC’s best shot. There was a lot for them and us to play for.”

“We just stuck to our basics and got the energy back,” Hall said. “Once we were able to do that, it came together well and it was an easy march down the field.”

Both of Allgeier’s touchdowns came in the second quarter as BYU led 21-13 at halftime. Allgeier extended his BYU record to 20 rushing touchdowns this season. Allgeier moved to No. 2 in single-season rushing yards at 1,409 and No. 7 in career rushing yards at 2,707. His two rushing touchdowns moved him into No. 5 in career rushing scores at 32.

The team’s offensive stats were nearly identical. Both BYU and USC had 27 first downs, while the Cougars out-gained the Trojans, 465-458.

USC’s lone first-half touchdown was on a 5-yard keeper by Dart. His knee appeared to be on the ground while fielding the shotgun snap, but he didn’t have possession of the ball.

Hall completed 20 of 32 passes for 276 yards and was picked off twice.

BYU has now won 10 games for the second consecutive season for the first time since the 2008 and 2009 seasons. It is BYU’s 18th season with at least 10 wins.

Dart was 23 of 45 for 248 yards and a touchdown for the Trojans, who have dropped five of their last six and saw their bowl hopes dashed.

USC trailed 28-13 early in the third quarter after Keanu Hill caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Hall that was just beyond the outstretched left arm of Trojans cornerback Isaiah Pola-Mao before coming back with scores on three straight possessions.

Vavae Malepeai started the rally on the ensuing drive with a TD on fourth-and-goal. Malepeai ran right, bounced off an attempted tackle by BYU linebacker Max Tooley and scored from 2 yards out.

Parker Lewis’ third field goal brought the Trojans within five points before they took the lead on Dart’s strike to Bryant.

After USC’s Bryant returned the opening kickoff 62 yards to the BYU 34-yard line, the Trojans took a 3-0 lead on Parker Lewis’ 26-yard field goal. BYU took the lead eight plays later when Hall connected with Puka Nacua for a 28-yard touchdown.

Keanu Hill led the Cougars in receiving with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Linebacker Max Tooley set a new career mark with 13 total tackles, including nine solo stops, 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup. Ben Bywater added 13 tackles, one shy of a career high. It gave him a team-leading 93 tackles on the year.

Sitake was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the third quarter for arguing on the field after a punt.

“I lost my cool. It was not my best moment, but every coach wants to fight for their guys,” Sitake said. “I’m glad we got the win. It was a lot of fun.”

The Cougars were a perfect 5-0 against Pac-12 teams this season. They defeated Arizona, Utah, Arizona State and Washington State earlier. BYU also beat Virginia to win six Power 5 games this year, the most in program history.

Now BYU waits its bowl game fate. They are assured of a spot in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana December 18th. But there is an outside hope the Cougars could get into a New Year’s Six Bowl Game as well. BYU will find out for sure on Sunday, December 5th.

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