TAMPA (ABC4 Sports) – Lightning struck before the game, causing a 2 1/2-hour delay. Then, it struck several more times for BYU.

The Cougars raced out to a 38-0 lead and trounced South Florida in its season opener Saturday night, 50-21.

Wide receiver Puka Nucua scored on a 75-yard inside run on the first play from scrimmage of the game and added a second rushing touchdown before leaving with a sprained ankle. 

Chris Brooks rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries in his BYU debut, as the Cougars dominated the line of scrimmage, running for 314 yards and amassing 575 yards total.

Jaren Hall was efficient, completing 25 of 32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdown passes to Dallin Holker and Keanu Hill. Hall completed passes to 12 receivers.

After Nacua’s two touchdown runs, Max Tooley then returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown to give BYU a 21-0 first quarter lead.

When Hall found a wide open Hill from 21 yards out, BYU had scored 28 points in the first quarter for the first time in a Kalani Sitake coached team in any game.

“We’ve got some things to work on, but I was really proud of our team and the energy and the effort we saw on the field,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “We jumped on them pretty early. Obviously there are some things to fix, but I’m just really proud of the players and the leadership and the effort and the coaches that we have. It’s something special, these young men are empowered to run it and they make me look good.”

Jimmy Horn scored on an 89-yard kickoff return to open the second half to cut BYU’s lead to 38-14.

But the Cougars scored a safety when the snap on a South Florida punt went through the end zone.

Brooks then busted off a 52-yard touchdown run to put the game away.

The Cougar defense held USF to just 293 total yards, 4 of 12 on third down and 1 of 4 on fourth down.

Jake Oldroyd booted two field goals for the 25th-ranked Cougars. Chase Roberts made his BYU debut and led the team in receiving with three catches for 47 yards.

“We were fortunate to jump ahead and get an early lead,” Sitake said. “It seemed like the first half took so long but we were able to grind some of the clock and end the game. I am looking forward to getting back home with no delays but finding ways to improve and get ready for our home opener next week.”

Wide receiver Gunner Romney did not play because of an undisclosed injury.

BYU next hosts #10 Baylor Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.