In his first start since taking over the Zach Wilson era, BYU quarterback Jaren Hall looked good as the redshirt sophomore totaled 234 total yards and two touchdowns as BYU held on for a thrilling 24-16 victory over Arizona at Allegiant Stadium Saturday night.

With the win, the Cougar have now own 12 of their last 13 games and are 9-2 against P5 teams in season openers over the past 11 years. BYU also improved to 5-1 under head coach Kalani Sitake in season openers.

After a slow start for both teams, BYU and Arizona started to find their groove on offense as the Cougars totaled 370 yards while the Wildcats had 426. Arizona ran 20 more plays, however, BYU had the yards-per-play advantage (5.8 to 5.1).

Making just his third career start, Hall, the redshirt sophomore from Spanish Fork, Utah, completed 18-of-28 passes for 198 yards with two touchdowns. The dual-threat quarterback who is known for his scrambling abilities, didn’t take off very much, but when he did, he made Arizona pay, including a 39-yard run in the second half.

Hall’s performance impressed Wilson who was on the sideline during Saturday’s game. The former BYU quarterback and No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft will make his first NFL start next Sunday when the New York Jets take on the Carolina Panthers.

“Zach being here, supporting the guys he played with for three years, means a lot to us to have him and brings confidence to everybody for what he’s done in the past,” Hall said. “It was good to have him.”

BYU’s Neil Pau’u had a career night as the 6-foot-4 wide receiver hauled in eight catches for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On defense, linebacker Keenan Pili also had a career night with 17 tackles. It is the most tackles in a game since Sione Takitaki had 19 in the 2018 Potato Bowl against Western Michigan.

While there was a lot of positives in the game, there was also a lot of things the Cougars need to work on (open field tackling) before hosting in-state rival Utah on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Saturday’s attendance at Allegiant Stadium was 54,541 — the largest crowd ever for a football game in the state of Nevada.

Here’s how fans, the media, players and coaches reacted after the game:

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