Romney connection leads #15 BYU past South Florida, 35-27

Sports

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Baylor Romney got the start at quarterback, and his brother Gunner helped him finish off South Florida.

Baylor, starting in place of the injured Jaren Hall, threw for a career-high 305 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 15 BYU to a 35-27 victory over South Florida on Saturday night.

“I definitely came out real fast,” Baylor Romney said about the Cougars, who bolted to a 21-0 first quarter lead. “A couple of big plays really carried some momentum for us. It’s easy to do when you’ve got guys like we do up front.”

Tyler Allgeier ran for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns to help the Cougars earn their sixth straight victory dating to last season. Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua each finished with more than 100 receiving yards, combining for 221 yards and a touchdown on nine catches.

BYU (4-0) turned in a dominant offensive performance, totaling 443 yards while averaging 8.9 yards per play.

“We’re right on the bridge of going off in the pass game, so I’m excited,” said Nacua, who finished with a career-high 102 receiving yards on four catches. “That has been our objective since week one to just come out strong and tonight we were able to just piece it together. Today was super fun, definitely a good time to sling the ball around a little bit and make plays in the air.”

Timmy McClain threw for 186 yards and ran for 55 yards to lead South Florida. Jaren Mangham added 86 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Bulls (1-3) scored on three straight clock-chewing drives in the second half before ultimately coming up short.

Baylor Romney started at quarterback in place of Hall, who suffered a rib injury on BYU’s final scoring drive against Arizona State a week earlier. With him at the controls, the Cougars ran over the Bulls from the start.

“We thought Jaren would be ready to go, but the advice of our medical staff was to hold him out,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We felt good about Baylor starting this game.”

On his first pass of the game, Baylor Romney hit his brother, Gunner, with a 49-yard strike that set up BYU’s first touchdown. He followed with a 55-yard dart to Puka Nacua that set up another score on the Cougars’ second drive.

BYU raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter after scoring on each of its first three drives. Allgeier accounted for back-to-back touchdowns in that stretch, scoring twice on 1-yard fourth-down runs.

“I think if you score that many points early that you’re going to be in a good spot,” Sitake said. “I liked all three phases to start out. But the second half just puts sort of a dark cloud over all of it.”

South Florida strung together multiple long scoring drives over the final three quarters to mount a comeback. The Bulls had four scoring drives lasting more than five minutes.

The Bulls finally scored their first touchdown on Xavier Weaver’s 3-yard run on fourth down off a reverse midway through the third quarter. USF marched down on the field on each of its next two drives and scored back-to-back touchdowns on short runs by Mangham to cut the deficit to 35-27 with 5:41 remaining. Mangham’s second TD, a 1-yard run on fourth down, capped off a 19-play, 94-yard drive that burned nine minutes off the clock.

“We were just focused on playing assignment-sound football, and in the second half we really struggled to do that,” BYU linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa said. “On the bright side, we haven’t really played a full game of our best defense, so I’m really excited for next week to show that.”

Baylor Romney improved to 3-0 in his career as a starter. Romney led BYU to victories over Boise State and Liberty in 2019 while filling in for an injured Zach Wilson. In his three career starts, he has thrown for a total of 788 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 69% of his passes.

So will he get the start next week even if Hall is healthy?

“That’s a coach’s decision,” Romney said. “I don’t think anyone should lose their job due to injury. It’s in the coach’s hands.”

BYU (4-0) will next play at Utah State (3-1) Friday night at Maverik Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m.

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