HOUSTON – Down by double-digits late in the third quarter, BYU did not panic.
The Cougars scored the final 29 points to remain undefeated.
Zach Wilson threw four touchdowns and finished 25 of 35 for 400 yards as No. 14 BYU rallied for a 43-26 win over Houston on Friday night.
“The statement we made is that we are big time team,” Wilson said. “Average teams are inconsistent and can’t finish games off. There wasn’t a moment of that tonight. Every single play, every single drive was we are going to execute the next drive.”
Dax Milne caught nine passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns to help BYU improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2008. BYU outgained Houston, 478-438.
“That dude’s a playmaker,” Wilson said of Milne. “I love that guy. He’s one of my best friends I’m so happy for him. … I believed in that guy since day one. I’ve always known he was going to be a big-time player for us.”
Down 12, Wilson found Milne for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 53 seconds remaining in the third. Wilson gave BYU the lead back with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Masen Wake with 10:35 left to make it 29-26 following a 2-point conversion pass from Wilson to Tyler Allgeier.
“They had the lead on us,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “I’m proud of our players and the way they were able to respond to adversity. We got caught in some things. It’s weird because we got the momentum early, and it starts slipping away. Then, we had to regroup at halftime and get in the locker room and talk things over.
Wilson threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Milne with three minutes remaining before Allgeier iced it with a 14-yard touchdown run with 1:40 left.
Clayton Tune finished 21 of 31 for 310 yards and two touchdowns to lead Houston (1-1).
“They were starting to twist up front, which was something we hadn’t seen on film,” Tune said of BYU’s defensive change in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Porter had 20 carries for 94 yards. Christian Trahan caught three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, and Keith Corbin caught four passes for 58 yards.
“We did a lot of good things,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. “It’s just when the game got tight in the fourth quarter, they whipped us. They elevated their game and we didn’t.”
Trailing by 11 to start the second quarter, Houston scored 23 straight points to take a 26-14 lead with three minutes left in the third.
Tune threw touchdown passes of 20 and 5 yards to Trahan and Nathaniel Dell, respectively, and Dalton Witherspoon hit a 49-yard field goal to give Houston a 20-14 lead at the half. Witherspoon also had a 27-yard field goal in the first.
Tune increased the lead to 12 on a 5-yard rushing touchdown that capped a 16-play, 98-yard drive. Tune was nearly sacked before breaking the tackle, juking out a defender and diving for the goal line.
“We knew what the issues were on that drive,” Sitake said. “We set out to fix it. And, as we started to fix it, there’s no panic in the coaches or the players. We just knew that we had to get it fixed, and as we started to do that, our offense started to click. The result was what happened.”
BYU struck fast with Wilson finding Milne for a career-long 78-yard touchdown pass on BYU’s first play to make it 7-3 with 9 ½ minutes left in the first.
Lapini Katoa upped the lead to 14-3 on a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:42 remaining in the first.
BYU: The Cougars got their offense going late to avoid the upset, and the defense stepped up late holding Houston to 22 yards in the fourth quarter. Leading receiver Gunner Romney had one catch for three yards. BYU’s defense finished with three sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
Houston: The Cougars again struggled in the first quarter but rebounded in the second and third quarters to take the lead. Tune found 11 receivers, but Houston’s leading receiver, Marquez Stevenson was held to one reception for 19 yards. Houston committed 10 penalties for 113 yards.
HE SAID IT
“How many penalties did we have? Another 10. Yeah, they ended up evening things out, gave them some penalties, too. Big 12 refs like to throw flags.” – Holgorsen on the officiating
BYU should at least hold its position at No. 14 following the come-from-behind win.
BYU defensive back Micah Harper was ejected for targeting with 6 ½ minutes remaining in the third quarter after tackling Porter with the crown of his helmet. Following a lengthy review, the targeting call was upheld. Porter was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play for headbutting Harper but remained in the game.
BYU hosts Texas State on Oct. 24.
Houston travels to Navy on Oct. 24.