Zach Wilson passes for 400 yards in Cougars’ fifth consecutive win
No. 14 BYU defeated the Houston Cougars by a score of 43-26 on Friday night to continue its win streak and improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2008.
Zach Wilson had another standout performance, passing for 400 yards for the first time in his career and finishing his fourth consecutive game and 132nd consecutive pass without an interception – the sixth-longest streak in BYU history.
“That’s a team stat,” Wilson said on the no-interception streak. “That’s guys around me making plays.”
The Houston Cougars opened the scoring with a 27-yard field goal – one of senior Dalton Witherspoon’s two successful attempts on the night. BYU responded with a 78-yard touchdown from Wilson to Dax Milne, the longest of Wilson and Milne’s careers, on the offense’s first play of the game.
After forcing a quick three and out, BYU retook possession of the ball and marched down the field for a second consecutive touchdown drive. Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes drew up a trick play that set the Cougars up on the four-yard line for first and goal – the first of two successful trick plays run by BYU on the night. Lopini Katoa finished the drive securing six points for the Cougars.
“We focus on trying to be bold,” head coach Kalani Sitake said on the play calling. “We want to have that mindset of being aggressive and swinging for the fences.”
Houston then reclaimed its lead with 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune led the Cougars up the field for two consecutive touchdown drives, the first ending with a 20-yard pass to junior tight end Christian Trahan and the second a five-yard completion to sophomore wide-out Nathaniel Dell.
The BYU defense struggled to stop Houston’s aggressive air-raid offense throughout a very back and forth first half, giving Houston a 20-14 lead starting the second half.
“We had momentum early and we let it slip away,” Sitake said. “Sometimes it just takes a little while to get into things.”
Houston opened the scoring in the second half after being pinned on its own two-yard line, increasing its lead to 13 and handing BYU its biggest deficit of the season.
BYU responded with a touchdown in just five plays. Wilson connected with Milne again for his second touchdown of the night and his third of the season.
“I feel like the statement that we made tonight was that we’re a big-time team,” Wilson said. “So proud of these guys for battling back.”
BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd successfully executed an onside kick which was recovered by BYU on Houston’s 46-yard line. Oldroyd finished the night perfect on PAT’s, field goal attempts and onside kick attempts.
Sophomore tight-end Masen Wake was the next to get on the score sheet for BYU. The Cougars of Provo successfully completed a two-point conversion following Wake’s eight-yard touchdown to secure a 29-26 lead early in the fourth quarter.
After back-to-back defensive three-and-outs for both Cougar sides, Milne once again found the endzone on the end of a well-executed throw by Wilson, widening BYU’s lead to ten points for the first time since the first quarter. Milne finished the night with career highs of 184 yards and three touchdowns.
“That dude’s a playmaker, I love that guy,” Wilson said of Milne. “I’ve believed in that guy since day one. I’m so happy for him in this moment.”
Sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier secured a victory for BYU late in the fourth quarter with a 14-yard rushing touchdown. BYU finished the night 5-for-6 in the red zone.
“The matchup tonight reminded me a lot of BYU Basketball’s matchup with Houston last season,” BYU student Hans Pande said in response to the victory. “It was an exciting back and forth contest that ended with the Cougars securing a victory in the final minutes of the game.”
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