In a wild game that lived up to the hype, No. 14 BYU kept its perfect season alive Friday night with a heart-thumping 43-26 victory over Houston at TDECU Stadium.
BYU started fast and sputtered in the middle, but ended with a flourish, overcoming a 26-14 deficit late in the third quarter and sealing the win with quarterback Zach Wilson’s gorgeous 18-yard touchdown pass to Dax Milne with 3:06 remaining.
Thanks to some big special teams plays — including a surprising onside kick — crucial stops by the defense and clutch plays by Wilson and Milne, BYU pulled out the win in the fourth quarter, scoring 29 unanswered points, in a game that was closer than the final score indicates.
BYU improved to 5-0, its best start since 2008. Houston fell to 1-1.
Wilson completed 25 of 35 passes for 400 yards and four touchdowns. It marked Wilson’s first career 400-yard passing game.
Milne had nine receptions for a career-high 184 yards and three touchdowns.
Houston QB Clayton Tune also turned in an impressive performance, completing 21 of 31 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns.
BYU rolled up 478 yards of total offense while Houston accumulated 438 yards.
BYU added a final touchdown with 1:40 left to go up 43-26.
But it wasn’t always pretty for BYU.
BYU’s offensive miscues manifested themselves early in the second quarter. On third-and-15 at the Houston 46, Wilson completed a screen pass to Tyler Allgeier, who sped his way down the sideline for a touchdown. However, a block-in-the-back penalty negated that score and BYU ended up punting.
Ryan Rehkow’s punt pinned Houston at the 2-yard line. Tune guided Houston on a 98-yard, 6:48 drive, highlighted by some precision passing and aided by a pass interference penalty. Later, BYU’s Micah Harper was whistled for a targeting penalty.
Tune ran the ball for a 5-yard touchdown to put Houston ahead 26-14 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
That’s when BYU’s offense woke up. A 19-yard pass to Masen Wake and a 37-yard pass to Milne led to a 2-yard TD pass to Milne. BYU shaved the deficit to 26-21. It was BYU’s first score since the first quarter.
BYU then executed a successful onside kick to get the ball back with less than one minute remaining in the third quarter.
Later, a miserable 13-yard punt by Houston gave BYU the ball at the Houston 23-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Moments later, Wilson threw an underhand shovel pass to Wake for an 8-yard TD. A two-point conversion lifted BYU to a 29-26 lead with 10:35 remaining.
Houston’s offense opened the game with a sustained drive that resulted in a 27-yard field goal by Dalton Witherspoon to give it an early 3-0 lead.
BYU answered on the next play from scrimmage when Wilson completed a 78-yard touchdown pass to Milne — a career-long TD pass by Wilson as BYU took a 7-3 advantage.
BYU 43, Houston 26
Hou, Dalton Witherspoon 27-yard field goal (9:53)
BYU, Dax Milne 78-yard pass from Zach Wilson (9:34), Jake Oldroyd kick
BYU, Lopini Katoa 1-yard run (4:42), Jake Oldroyd kick
Hou, Christian Trahan 20-yard pass from Clayton Tune (9:01), Dalton Witherspoon kick
Hou, Nathaniel Dell 5-yard pass from Clayton Tune (4:42), Dalton Witherspoon kick
Hou, Dalton Witherspoon 49-yard field goal (0:00)
Hou, Clayton Tune 5-yard run (3:05), pass failed
BYU, Dax Milne 2-yard pass from Zach Wilson (0:53), Jake Oldroyd kick
BYU, Masen Wake 8-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilson (10:35), Tyler Allgeier pass from Zach Wilson
BYU, Dax Milne 18-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilson (3:06), Jake Oldroyd kick
BYU, Tyler Allgeier 14-yard run (1:40), Jake Oldroyd kick
After BYU forced a punt, the offense marched downfield in big chunks, highlighted by a 32-yard run by Wilson and a 35-yard flea-flicker to Isaac Rex. That set up Wilson’s 4-yard touchdown run that propelled BYU to a 14-3 lead with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
And at that point, it appeared that BYU was in control. But the second quarter was a different story.
Tune started to find his rhythm, leading a 91-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 20-yard TD pass to Christian Trahan to cut Houston’s deficit to 14-10.
Houston struck again moments later when Tune connected with Nathaniel Dell for a 5-yard touchdown reception. Houston took its first lead of the night, 17-14.
Wilson led a long drive deep inside Houston territory late in the quarter. BYU had fourth-and-1 at the Houston 2-yard line but squandered a prime scoring opportunity as fullback Wake took a handoff and got stuffed before the line of scrimmage.
Houston took over at the 3-yard line and Tune guided his offense to the BYU 33, where Witherspoon booted a 49-yard field goal as time expired on the final play of the half. Houston went into the locker room at halftime up 20-14.
BYU hosts Texas State next Saturday.