HOUSTON (ABC4 Sports) – In its biggest test of the season, #14 BYU used another incredible performance from Zach Wilson to rally past Houston Friday to remain undefeated, 43-26.
Wilson continued to put up Heisman-caliber numbers, completing 25 of 35 passes for a career-high 400 yards and four touchdowns, as BYU scored the final 29 points of the game to improve to 5-0 on the season.
Dax Milne has a career night, catching nine passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns to help BYU improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2008.
“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 shovel pass to Masen Wake with 10:35 left to make it 29-26 following a 2-point conversion pass from Wilson to Tyler Allgeier.
Even Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes took note of Wilson’s nifty pass to Wake, and play that is actually called “Chiefs.”
“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.
Wilson also led BYU in rushing with 40 yards on nine carries.
Isaiah Kaufusi and Keenan Pili led the Cougars on defense, both totaling eight tackles and one tackle for loss each. Zac Dawe added three tackles for loss, including one sack, while Tyler Batty recorded 1.5 tackles for loss.
“I liked the second-half defense and the defense in the first quarter,” Sitake said. “I think defensively we had to change things up. We had to challenge them a little bit and we had to play some man defense. Our four man rush was getting there and hitting home. Houston did a good job at protecting their quarterback early. We feel really good about our strength and conditioning program and knew that in the fourth quarter we’re stronger than most teams.”
BYU has now scored 40-plus points in four of its first five games. This is the sixth time in program history that BYU is 5-0 to start the season (2008, 2001, 1984, 1981, 1979).
The Cougars next host Texas State October 24th at 8:15 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium.