PROVO — Unheralded UTSA arrived at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday afternoon as a 34.5-point underdog against No. 15 BYU. 

But the Roadrunners didn’t play like it. In fact, they had their chances to spring a major upset.

For four quarters, UTSA hung with the Cougars, pushing them to the brink, as the outcome wasn’t decided until the final seconds. In the end, the Roadrunners suffered a heartbreaking 27-20 setback.

UTSA backup quarterback Lowell Narcisse and his teammates didn’t come to Provo only to play a close game with BYU. The Roadrunners, who fell 21-13 last week at UAB, were confident that they could knock off the undefeated Cougars. 

“It’s tough, man, especially when you come on the road, all the odds are against you, nobody believes but us. We felt like we let another one slip,” Narcisse said. “It’s painful knowing that we didn’t play our best ball and we were still right there. Coach always tells us our best is good enough. Obviously, we didn’t play our best because if we would have, we would have gotten the results we wanted.”

Entering the contest, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson was receiving national attention for his performance this season. But one of the main storylines of this game was Narcisse, who came off the bench in place of starter Frank Harris to complete 17 of 20 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns.  

“The kid comes off the bench again … he’s playing great,” UTSA coach Jeff Traylor said of Narcisse. “Every time we put him out there, he plays great.”

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Narcisse, a junior who redshirted at LSU in 2017, made a bunch of big plays, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to Brennon Dingle with 1:17 remaining to pull UTSA to within seven points. 

The Roadrunners (3-2) almost recovered the ensuing onside kick, then eventually forced the Cougars to punt. But with 15 seconds left, a roughing-the-kicker call on UTSA sealed its fate. Instead of getting one more possession with the chance to tie the game, or win it, the Roadrunners could only watch as BYU ran out the clock to close out the victory. 

“Our best is good enough. We’ve just got to be more extraordinary than ordinary. We gave great effort,” Traylor said. “I was proud of our kids and we’re getting better every week … I’m proud of them for their effort but we’re pretty hurt right now, obviously.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Narcisse threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Zakhari Franklin. BYU led 21-13 at that point and was driving when UTSA’s Tyler Mahnke nearly picked off Wilson at the Roadrunner 20-yard line. The Cougars ended up scoring to take a 27-13 advantage before Narcisse led a four-play, 75-yard drive with only 1:01 running off the clock.

BYU entered the weekend ranked No. 1 in the country in total offense and total defense. UTSA scored almost as many points Saturday (20) as the Cougars had given up in their previous three games (24). BYU had been averaging 49.3 points per game and fell well short of that mark. 

“We executed pretty well. There are still things we have to work on. They’re an excellent team. They’re a great team. I believe that their ranking definitely shows,” said UTSA linebacker Charles Wiley. “We knew this was not going to be an easy game. We knew that even if we executed correctly, they’re still good enough to beat us. The biggest thing was, I have nothing but respect for that team. We came in and did what we were supposed to do, we just couldn’t finish it.” 

“That was a really good offense we played,” Traylor said. “They’re good on offense. I’m very proud of our defense. They gave us a chance to win the ball game. We didn’t score enough points to win it. We’ve got to score more.”