PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU is going bowling afterall.
Jaren Hall threw for a career-high 456 yards and five touchdowns, and also rushed for another score as the Cougars pulled away from upset-minded Utah Tech Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium, 52-36.
The win marked BYU’s sixth of the year, getting the Cougars bowl eligible for the 17th time in 18 seasons.
“I think it just shows the character of the program and the players,” Hall said. “When you don’t have a perfect season or the season you expected, it really comes down to how well you finish the season. We can’t control what’s happened in the past at this point, so now it’s what we can control, regardless of what we thought we deserved to begin with.”
Keanu Hill was Hall’s main target, as Hill tallied six catches for 137 yards. Hill hauled in three touchdowns and averaged 22.8 yards per catch on the afternoon. Christopher Brooks rushed for 102 yards, his second most yards in a game this season.
“I’m glad we got the win,” said . We’re bowl eligible now and get to extend the season. There’s a lot of guys happy to get the win at home and in their last game in LaVell Edwards Stadium. We’ll keep building from this. Obviously the game didn’t go as clean as I would like, but a lot of these FCS games end up being like that sometimes, so I’m just glad that we were able to play all four quarters and own the game like we knew we could.”
Utah Tech shocked the crowd in Provo by taking a 20-14 lead in the second quarter behind three touchdown passes by Victor Gabalis, including an 80-yarder to Deven Osbourne.
But the Cougar defense stiffened in the second half, holding the Trailblazers to just one second half score. The BYU defense forced three, three-and-outs in the second half, while allowing only 138 yards of total offense and forced Utah Tech punts on six-straight possessions.
Chase Roberts and Isaac Rex had touchdown catches for BYU, while Hinckley Ropati added 46 yards rushing.
The Cougars finished with 676 yards of total offense, 8.9 yards per play, were 3-of-3 in red zone trips, possessed the ball for 32:11 and recorded three tackles for loss in the win.
Gabalis threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns with an interception to lead Utah Tech. Osborne had three catches for 138 yards and a touchdown and Joey Hobert had 11 catches for 100 yards and two scores for the Trailblazers.
“This was a really fun opportunity for our kids, and I’m really proud of themm” said Utah Tech head coach Paul Peterson. “I thought they fought hard, especially in the first half. Our guys came out with a lot of energy, and we were excited to be able to play on this field. Didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but definitely have some things to work off of and grow from.”
BYU (6-5) will wrap up the regular season next Saturday night at Stanford.