AUSTIN, Texas — A stunned BYU football team saw its first half lead dwindle as the Texas Longhorns overcame a 13-point deficit to defeat the Cougars, 17-16.
“It’s tough to lose a game like this, especially when you let someone come back and beat us,” said sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps.
The downtrodden Heaps, who put up impressive numbers in the first half, said the team should have won, but lacked execution in crucial moments in the second half.
“It’s uncharacteristic of this football team and it’s uncharacteristic of us individually,” Heaps said. “The bottom line is that we didn’t execute when we needed to.”
The Cougar offense came out rolling but couldn’t manage a touchdown in its first two trips into the red zone.
Following a 45-yard, 10-play drive, BYU couldn’t find the end zone on their first red-zone opportunity. Instead, Justin Sorensen converted a 30-yard field goal attempt to put the Cougars on top, 3-0.
Again, on the Cougars second drive, the offense left the field with only 3 points, lifting the team to a 6-0 lead.
Finally, BYU put together a 97-yard drive ending in a 6-yard touchdown pass to Ross Apo that pulled the lead to 13-0.
In addition, the defense was dominant in the first half. At halftime, BYU had outgained Texas 168-88 in total yards. At halftime, BYU led 13-3, only allowing a field goal following a Texas interception thrown by Heaps.
But in the second half, the Cougars couldn’t find momentum on offense and had a hard time when Texas switched its quarterback. The starter, Garrett Gilbert, was pulled because of ineffectiveness. This paved the way for Case McCoy and David Ash to take control of the Texas offense.
After forcing a BYU three-and-out, Texas drove the length of the field to score. Cody Johnson got the call on a 1-yard run. The touchdown was the first that the BYU defense has allowed on the season, as it held Ole Miss to two field goals on offense a week ago.
Texas wasn’t done.
After winning the field position battle, Texas found itself starting a drive on the 50-yard line. Texas pounded the BYU defense and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run by Johnson. The score put the Longhorns up 17-16.
BYU had one last chance to drive the length of the field behind Heaps, but was stopped when Heaps fired a long throw down the sideline that was intercepted by Quandre Diggs.
Despite the elevated play by the BYU defense, the offense was unable to keep up.
When asked if the defense felt it had done enough to win the game, LB Spencer Hadley said. “You can never really say what is enough until you win the game. I feel like we did make some plays and had a good game defensively. Obviously, it wasn’t enough tonight. I guess the answer is no.”
Hadley stressed that the defense believes in the offense and its abilities.
As for next week?
“It’s right back to business. It’s got to be,” said offensive lineman Matt Reynolds. “We’ll try to get healed up both mentally and physically, and it’s on to next week. There’s no time to waste.”
BYU players remain hopeful after the near upset. Even Texas coach Mack Brown offered praise to the BYU football team.
“I’d like to give BYU credit for the way they fought. They had the same type of game last week. We were 1-for-6 on third downs in the second half and [the BYU defense] totally dominated the game.”
“Were hoping that this will help us grow as a football team,” Heaps added.
Heaps ended the game completing 22 of 38 passes for 192 yards, including a touchdown and two interceptions.
Sorensen converted all three of his field goal opportunities.
The Cougars will open their home schedule next week against rival Utah. Both teams enter the game with a 1-1 record.