Howard and West Virginia hold off Hill and BYU 35-32
Skyler Howard passed for 332 yards and accounted for two touchdowns and Rasul Douglas returned an interception 54 yards for a score as West Virginia beat BYU 35-32 Saturday to head into Big 12 play unbeaten.
Howard went 31 for 40 with an interception and Rushel Shell had two short TD runs for the Mountaineers (3-0). West Virginia grabbed a 35-19 lead with 11:27 left in the fourth quarter when Howard hit Daikiel Shorts for a 9-yard score.
Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said he could sense his team got too excited about being up 16.
"We have to be one of those teams that's constantly on the gas pedal and we let up," West Virginia tackle Kyle Bosch said.
The Cougars scored two touchdowns in less than four minutes to cut their deficit to three with 5:55 remaining and got one last chance to put together a game-winning drive after a miscommunication between Howard and center Tyler Orlosky led to a West Virginia fumble near BYU's goal line.
Taysom Hill drove BYU to the West Virginia 28, but his last pass to the end zone was tipped away from a receiver by West Virginia's Nan Kyeremeh and intercepted by Maurice Fleming to seal it.
"When they're driving down the field, they're completing things. They're getting some calls. They're inching down the field, you're hoping for another opportunity," Howard said.
BYU (1-3) has lost three straight by a total of seven points after opening the season with a two-point win on a last second field goal.
BYU was one of 11 teams Big 12 officials met with earlier this month in Dallas as they consider whether to expand the 10-team league. The Cougars' performance on the field against West Virginia is not likely to sway things. If nothing else, their fans did a nice job of showing off the school's national reach. The lower level of FedEx Field behind the BYU bench was well stocked with the white and blue of the Cougars - despite being 2,000 miles away from their campus in Provo, Utah.
The Big 12 is all about offense, and the Cougars did their best to keep up with the fast-paced Mountaineers. Hill threw for 241 yards and ran for 101 and Jamaal Williams had 169 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, but each of the Cougars' stars had key turnovers. Hill threw three interceptions, two on tipped passes, and Williams lost a fumble that led to a West Virginia touchdown.
"It's easy to sit there and say I wish we had done things differently," Hill said. "That's kind of like the story of life."
BYU: The turnovers stand out, and Hill now has thrown seven picks, but this was his best performance of the season. He looked more like his pre-injury self when he leaped into and off of a couple of defenders during a third-quarter run.
West Virginia: The season started with some uncertainty as to what the future holds at WVU for coach Dana Holgorsen. A perfect start with a couple of solid wins against Missouri and BYU is a nice way to turn down the heat.
BYU: On Friday night, the Cougars play a team from outside the Power Five for the first time this season but Toledo coming to Provo is no break. The Rockets are 3-0 and coming off an open date.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers get Big 12 play started at home against Kansas State on Oct. 1.