How Dax Milne joined buddy Zach Wilson in putting on a show against Houston
Just when BYU needed some offensive power, former walk-on Dax Milne and QB Zach Wilson put down the hammer on Houston
Dax Milne on the end of a string with Zach Wilson might just be put to music.
It all looked like it was choreographed in a studio — something you’d see on Broadway, or national TV, which it was Friday night in No. 14 BYU’s come-from-behind blowout win over Houston.
Wilson targeted Milne 11 times in a 43-26 BYU win and he caught nine of them for 184 yards and three touchdowns. That included a 78-yard touchdown bomb on BYU’s first play of the game.
It looked like something they had targeted on GPS.
Come to think of it, most all those nine catches did.
It was absolutely so on Milne’s double-move on Damarion Williams with just three minutes left in the game and the Cougars desperately clinging to a slim 29-26 lead. Milne ran the slant, caught Williams biting on his route, and then turned up and sprinted to the end zone where Wilson threw a perfect strike for what turned out to be the door closer on Houston.
Milne was sensational all night. His cookie-cutter cuts, acceleration and decision making were as good as anyone has seen out of a BYU receiver since Austin Collie. In fact, he looked like old Magic Happens himself in Houston.
Come to think of it, it’s been that way all season long.
In this game, Wilson really, really needed Milne’s magic and his remarkable skills.
“That dude is a playmaker,” said Wilson. He’s one of my best friends. I’m so happy for him and what he’s gone through in his life with ups and downs where no one really thinks you can do it. I’ve believed in that guy since day one. I’ve always known he was going to be a big-time player.”
After an explosive, trick-play-filled 14-point first quarter, which led an an 11-point lead over Houston, BYU’s offense couldn’t do anything.
That put a lot of pressure on the defense, which struggled applying pressure Houston quarterback Clayton Tune, giving him as much comfort as a teddy bear on the top shelf of a toy store. He sliced and diced BYU’s defense apart, throwing for 300 yards as Houston took a 20-14 halftime lead.
It looked bleak for Kalani Sitake’s undefeated streak in this weird 2020 season.
But when the defense began using twists and stunts and brought more pressure on Tune in the third quarter, electing to put BYU’s corners on an island with man coverage, the momentum of the game completely changed.
Still, BYU could not mount much offense in the third quarter at all until Wilson hit Milne with a 3-yard scoring strike with 53 seconds left to trim Houston’s lead to 26-21.
This was about as dramatic of a stage as one could imagine. Wilson’s favorite target most of the season, Gunner Romney, was on the bench with a sore hamstring, an injury that plagued him a year ago.
BYU’s defense got downright aggressive, even ornery.
Zac Dawe got a sack, Tune began to be chased and hit. As BYU’s defense took control with stops again and again in the third and fourth quarters, Houston became rattled. BYU even got a break on a 13-yard shanked punt and got caught napping on an onside kick.
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
Houston was melting down in a game filled with head butts, spitting, mouthing off and plenty of penalties.
This is when BYU really needed Wilson’s chemistry with Milne, not just to score but to keep drives alive.
He cashed in like a credit card.
Houston’s roster is filled with tremendous athletes, guys with size and speed, and the corners Milne faced are the best he’s faced all season.
He. Ate. Them. Alive.
They couldn’t stop Milne on the first play of the game, and they couldn’t chase him down in coverage late in the fourth quarter.
The result was 29 unanswered points on Houston.
“It’s all about the leadership and the time these guys have spent together,” said Sitake.
BYU ended up outgaining Houston 478 to 438 with stinky second and third quarters.
Wilson finished 25 of 35 for 400 yards and four touchdowns for a 205 efficiency rating. His counterpart Tune was 21 of 31 for 310 and two touchdowns and a 173 rating.
For Milne, it was a career performance.
“It was tough losing Gunner and others had to step up,” said Milne.
“I was glad Zach and I were on the same page tonight. It was fun, that’s all I can say is it was fun.