The BYU Cougars offense made progress when they faced off against the West Virginia Mountaineers as they put up 32 points in a three point loss, 35-32. Even with the proverbial offensive explosion, the game still showed that there will be growing pains throughout the year. In the game the Cougars didn’t have a three and out, and punter Johnny Linehan only kicked twice.
The game started with West Virginia driving the field and putting the Cougars defense on their heels as the Mountaineers put up a touchdown running a precise, hurry up offense. BYU would respond with a long 78 yard drive that featured Jamaal Williams gashing the defense and a 25 yard touchdown from Taysom Hill to Mitchell Juergens.
West Virginia would continue to move the ball but the Cougars defensive star, Butch Pau’u, stepped in front of a Skylar Howard pass to end the threat. BYU quickly moved down field after a 56 yard rush by Williams, but would squander a first and goal and settle for a Rhett Almond field goal. With the lead the Cougars defense would let the Mountaineers drive the field and take a 14-10 lead. Hill, looking to take the lead back before halftime, tried to do to much as he threw a lazy pass to the sideline as he was being tackled. Waiting for the ball was Rasul Douglas who promptly took the ball and ran 54 yards for the pick-six.
Now down 21-10 the Cougars tried to add some dramatics to the end of the half as they drove down to the red-zone and then made Bronco Mendenhall look like a clock management genius. With under a minute to go the Cougars called a run outside the 10 yard line and only one time-out. Having to use their final time out to set up the next play, the Cougars ended up rushing in the end. The Cougars tried to give away a field goal attempt as Hill tossed a short pass to the sideline and Juergens inexplicably stayed inbounds and tried to juke his way to the endzone. It appeared that the time would run out before Hill could spike the ball but after an official review the Cougars were given one second for a field goal. Once again Almond hit kicked the ball through the uprights and BYU went into the locker room down 21-13.
BYU would come out looking to make a statement, and showed that they came to play. After Matt Hadley returned the kickoff to the 41 the Cougars drove 57 yard aided by a 27 yard run and hurdle by Hill. Williams would finish it off with a seven yard touchdown before BYU misfired on the two point conversion.
Down 21-19 the Cougars defense let the Mountaineers drive downfield before buckling down and forcing a fourth down attempt. The short yard play ended up getting stuffed and BYU took over on downs. With Williams running the ball and BYU driving it looked like the Cougars would once again take the lead but Williams was hit by a dump truck and lost his first fumble of his career. West Virginia would take advantage as they went 51 yards over the top on the next play to get inside the 10 yard line. Only a couple of plays latter the Mountaineers had extended their lead back to nine.
BYU would once again waste good field position as after a couple of first downs but Linehan would pin the Mountaineers at their own one yard line. With the game on the line the Cougars defense would finally fold and gave up play after play after play. Ninety-nine yards later, helped by a ton of missed tackles, the Mountaineers would have a touchdown and a 35-19 lead in the fourth quarter.
With an uphill battle ahead of them the Cougars offense took the field and drove down to the red-zone. Running the two-minute drill offense with nine minutes to go the Cougars finally scored more than twenty points as Williams got the call and another two point conversion failed. Now down ten with nine minutes to go the Cougars defense held the Mountaineers to a three-and-out with eight minutes on the clock.
BYU would continue their fast pace offense and would use a combination of Williams and Hill rushes to compliment the mid-range passing in order to drive 79 yards in two minutes. The drive was capped off with a 19 yard touchdown pass from Hill to Moroni Laulu-Pututau. With the extra point the Cougars found themselves down only three with just under six minutes to go. With a chance to redeem themselves from their worst performance of the year, the Cougars defense forced one more three-and-out, thanks to a dropped pass by West Virginia offense.
BYU would once again take over on offense with under five minutes to go in a game and needing points on the board. Starting at their own 14 yard line Hill and company couldn’t convert as another tipped ball landed in the arms of the defense for the third turnover of the game.
With West Virginia looking to put the final nail in the coffin of the Cougars, the Mountaineers drove inside the 10-yard line. Lady luck finally looked down on the Cougars, however, as a fumbled exchange between the quarterback and the center gave BYU the ball one more time. BYU would drive quickly behind the legs of Hill and some nice catches by the receivers. Unfortunately the turnover bug would bite them as another pass was picked off, this time sealing the game for West Virginia.
BYU would finish with 241 yards passing and 280 yards rushing. Williams led all rushers with 169 yards on the ground as Hill added 101 yards rushing. Once again the difference ended up being the interceptions by Hill as they couldn’t overcome a 16 point deficit.
BYU will next play on Friday night against Toledo in Lavell Edwards Stadium.