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BYU crashes Houston homecoming

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Daniel Spencer makes a defender miss on his way to a touchdown in the 1st half. (Photo by Rick Custer – The Overtime Page)

A late touchdown by Taysom Hill of the BYU Cougars allowed them to survive in a wild 47-46 shootout with the Houston Cougars, snapping their five-game winning streak.

With 1:07 left in the game, Hill connected with wide receiver Skyler Ridley for an 11-yard strike, to retake the lead. Houston got the ball back, but quarterback John O’Korn threw an interception to linebacker Alani Fua on the first play of the drive to end the game.

“It was tough because we fought (so hard),” said Houston wide receiver Xavier Maxwell. “We just weren’t executed as well. It just wasn’t going our way.”

A jam-packed Reliant crowd was on hand to witness a wild first half that saw a total of 72 points scored, including 45 points in the first quarter. Houston led 38-34 at halftime despite being trailing in yardage by over 200 yards in the first half.

Houston was bailed out by great plays on defense and special teams. Wide receiver Demarcus Ayers’ 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and linebacker Derrick Mathews’ 29-yard interception return for the touchdown were big plays for Houston, who needed to overcome two first half interceptions by O’Korn.

“I think he just threw it right to me,” Mathews said about the interception. “It kind of surprised me. But, I was in perfect position to make a play and that’s what I did.”

Houston ended the half on a touchdown from wide receiver Daniel Spencer, who kept his balance and ran across the field for a 41-yard touchdown.

“I just tried to stay up,” Spencer said. “Then I just took off going (toward the end zone) and luckily I scored.

The first half took nearly two hours to complete and the 72 combined first half points was the second most in Houston history.

The second half was a completely different story. The defenses of both teams finally caught up with the offense. Defensive back Thomas Bates got his second interception of the game and Mathews followed with back-to-back sacks that led to a safety.

Miscues, however, prevented Houston from capitalizing on the defensive effort. Two missed field goals by kicker Richie Leone and a missed opportunity by the Houston offense to capitalize on a 76-yard reception by Spencer, which brought them to the BYU 4-yard line, hurt them.

In the fourth quarter, Houston responded to an early 25-yard BYU touchdown from wide receiver Cody Hoffman with a score of their own. O’Korn connected with wide receiver Deontay Greenberry for a 10-yard touchdown pass to take a 46-41 lead with 5:20 left in the game.

But, Houston couldn’t get that one last stop, as Hill drove down the field methodically, with help from a pass interference call, to set up the game-winning score.

Hill had a career-day, with 555 total yards and four touchdowns. Hoffman lead the team with 156 yards and a touchdown. BYU tied the FBS record for 115 offensive plays.

O’Korn threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three costly interceptions. Maxwell and Spencer each had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown for Houston.

“There are no moral victories,” said Houston head coach Tony Levine. “A loss is a loss. I give BYU credit they made plays to win the football game.”

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