PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU had been averaging over 49 points per game in its first three games of the season, but UT-San Antonio came into Provo and held the Cougars offense mostly in check Saturday afternoon.
However, the Cougars, who came in as 35-point favorites, did enough to beat the Roadrunners, 27-20, as Tyler Allgeier led the way with 116 yards rushing a game-clinching touchdown in the final minutes.
“Give UTSA a lot of credit,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “But we didn’t help ourselves with some of the issues that we’ve been able to do in the first three games. As the head coach I need to make sure our team is ready to play and perform at its best every week, and I’m not sure this was our best.”
Zach Wilson, who came into the game with just 11 incompletions, was 22 of 30 for 292 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for another score.
Dax Milne led the Cougars in receiving with seven catches for 102 yards.
The Cougars, who committed just eight total penalties in its first three games, were called for seven penalties for 55 yards on Saturday.
The Cougars (4-0) equaled their best start since 2014, while rolling up 472 total yards.
“We were very inconsistent,” said BYU Quarterback Zach Wilson. “I don’t think it is anything in particular besides those guys came out ready to play. We hurt ourselves whether it was a mental error or a fundamental mistake. They are things we can work on this week in practice. I still think we had glimpses of that playmaking ability when everything was clicking. We were capitalizing down the field and guys were making plays.”
UTSA quarterback Lowell Narcisse threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns – all after halftime – on 17-of-20 passing to lead the Roadrunners. UTSA (3-2) fell short of earning the upset despite averaging 7.6 yards per play in the second half.
BYU trailed for the first time this season when UTSA took a 3-0 lead on a 39-yard field goal from Hunter Duplessis in the first quarter.
The Cougars short circuited a couple of times in the opening quarter, with Neil Pau’u fumbling at the UTSA 10-yard line, and failing to convert on fourth-and-6 from the Roadrunner 40.
It was first quarter this season that BYU did not score a touchdown.
Pau’u finally broke the ice when he snagged a 4-yard tiptoe catch from Wilson on fourth down to put the Cougars ahead 7-3. Lopini Katoa hauled in a short play action pass and raced 11 yards untouched into the end zone to extend BYU’s lead to 14-3 late in the second quarter.
Narcisse gave the Roadrunner offense life after halftime. His first touchdown pass, a 32-yarder to Zakhari Franklin, narrowed the Cougar lead to 21-13 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
UTSA drove into BYU territory a second time with a chance to tie the game, after forcing a three-and-out, but Gabe Summers sacked Narcisse for an 8-yard loss on third down to force a punt.
The Cougars took 6:11 off the clock on 12 play, 80-yard scoring drive to give themselves some breathing room. Allgeier capped the drive by hurdling a defender and sprinting into the end zone on a 6-yard run, giving BYU a 27-13 lead with 2:18 remaining.
“I think the veterans were able to lead the team because in the past we’ve seen games where we’ve played teams we should’ve beaten,” Milne said. “We knew that it was in the back of our head. We just didn’t want to make that happen again. Everyone was able to lean on the veterans and focus up and make plays. Me personally, I hate losing more than I love winning. We were able to be mature with this game and a win’s a win.”
UTSA made it a one-possession game again on Brennon Dingle’s 34-yard catch with 1:01 left. The Roadrunners forced a punt, but BYU was able to run out the clock following a roughing the punter penalty with 15 seconds left.
Despite missing two starters on the offensive line, BYU did not give up a sack for the third time in four games this season.
Troy Warner finished with two solo tackles, one interception and one quarterback hurry. Warner had played 37 career games before his first interception and now has two in the last two games.
“I think we did a really good job at focusing this week on the things we needed to get done,” said linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi, who led BYU with nine tackles. “I feel like we had prepared very well and we had practiced hard. Just credit to UTSA for coming out really physical, had a great game plan and were able to adjust really well. I was pleased with how our team came back. We faced adversity and just like what Coach and Dax Milne said, so many of these games in the past we would have lost so I am proud of the way we fought. It wasn’t pretty but we got it done.”
BYU next plays at Houston Friday night at 7:30 p.m.