BYU football loses another heartbreaker, falls to West Virginia

BYU running back Jamaal Williams carries the ball against West Virginia. The Cougars fell 35-32. (BYU Photo)
BYU running back Jamaal Williams carries the ball against West Virginia. The Cougars fell 35-32. (BYU Photo)

The BYU football team lost 35-32 to West Virginia on Saturday afternoon in another heart-breaker. The first-ever matchup between BYU and WVU was played at FedEx Field and marks the Cougars’ third-straight loss.

West Virginia started off the game with two touchdown tries, but were met by two consecutive flags. The Mountaineers pushed running back Rushel Shell into the end-zone and connected on an extra point to go up 7-0 with 9:22 on the clock.

BYU came firing back after the WVU touchdown, evening up the score at 7-7. Running back Jamaal Williams ran furiously for 29 yards during the 12-play drive. Quarterback Taysom Hill capped off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mitchell Juergens.

WVU had a strong start to their next drive, making their way past the 50-yard line and into their territory. But WVU quarterback Skyler Howard was intercepted by Butch Pau’u. A 56-yard run by Williams put the Cougars in the WVU red zone. The Cougars would settle for a 22-yard field goal by kicker Rhett Almond after a loss of yards.

It took West Virginia around four minutes to go ahead 14-10 on BYU. Howard completed pass after pass for WVU, but Shell was once again the player to finish off the drive with a 2-yard leaping touchdown. Mike Molina kicked in the extra point for the Mountaineers.

Hill and the Cougars tried passing their way into West Virginia territory until cornerback Rasul Douglas picked him off for a touchdown. West Virginia led BYU 21-10 with 2:23 left in the second quarter.

A run late in the second quarter was fumbled by Hill, but would actually be recovered by receiver Colby Pearson for positive yardage. Hill would spike the ball on a controversial play with one second left on the clock. The refs initially called it halftime, but the time would be set to one second after the review. The time change allowed Almond to kick in the 25-yard field goal to pull within eight points of the Mountaineers.

WVU led the Cougars at halftime 21-13.

On the first BYU drive of the second half, Hill channeled his former self on a quarterback scramble.

Williams ran seven yards into the end-zone to give the Cougars 19 points. The drive was concluded by an unsuccessful two-point conversion.

Head coach Kalani Sitake was visibly fired-up as his defense put a stop to WVU on a one-yard fourth down attempt. BYU would fumble the ball back to the Mountaineers after a series of run-plays. Defensive end Adam Shuler punched the ball out of Williams’ hand and was recovered by cornerback Khairi Sharif.

The next play was a completed 51-yard pass from Howard to Shelton Gibson. The short drive ended with a Howard run into the end-zone. WVU lead BYU 28-19 after an extra point from Molina.

BYU was forced to punt after just 45 seconds. Jonny Linehan punted the ball out of bounds around the two-yard line for West Virginia. WVU utilized their secondary running back Justin Crawford well into West Virginia territory. Howard finished the 12-play drive with a series of passes, ending with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Daikiel Shorts.

The score was 35-19 with 11:20 left in the fourth quarter.

But the Cougars weren’t done yet.

Hill led a strong, 67-yard drive into the end-zone for the Cougars, only taking two minutes off the clock. The BYU quarterback ran and passed for 64 yards before Williams scored from three yards out. The Cougars tried a trick play on a two-point conversion, but again were unsuccessful.

The Cougars charged full steam ahead after WVU was forced to punt. Hill threw a line-drive pass to Nick Kurtz for 18 yards, and followed that up with a touchdown pass to receiver Moroni Laulu-Pututau, bringing the score to 35-32 with just under six minutes remaining.

After the Mountaineers were forced to punt, Hill turned the ball over.

West Virginia would try its best to run the clock down, but a botched snap deep in BYU territory was recovered by Francis Bernard.  BYU had another shot at redemption.

Hill tried for a long pass into the end-zone after multiple completions. The ball sailed on receiver Aleva Hifo and was intercepted by Maurice Fleming at the two-yard line.

A trio of knees for West Virginia ended the game and put BYU at 1-3 for the season.

It was the Cougars third straight loss of three points or less.

The Cougars return home to play Toledo at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday, Sept. 30 at 8:15 p.m. MDT.

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