PROVO, Utah — Lowell Narcisse came off the bench to throw for 229 yards and two touchdowns, but Zach Wilson threw for 292 yards and a pair of scores to help No. 15 BYU hold off UTSA 27-20 on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Field.
Entering the Saturday afternoon nationally televised matchup as sizeable underdogs, the Roadrunners (3-2) battled the Cougars (4-0) to the wire thanks to a big-play passing attack and a bend-but-don’t-break defense in their sixth all-time game against a ranked FBS opponent.
UTSA pulled to within one score early in the final quarter when Zakhari Franklin went up high to grab a 32-yard touchdown pass from Narcisse. Hunter Duplessis’ PAT made it 21-13 with 14:26 remaining.
The two teams traded possessions before BYU pushed its lead out to 27-13 on a 6-yard TD dash by Tyler Allgeier, who finished with 116 yards on 19 carries.
The Roadrunners raced right back down the field and made things interesting after Narcisse hit a wide-open Brennon Dingle on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:17 left to play.
UTSA then attempted an onside kick that the Cougars recovered. However, the Roadrunners forced a punting situation with fewer than 20 seconds left, but a roughing the punter penalty gave the ball back to BYU, which secured the win with one kneel-down.
Narcisse entered the contest late in the opening half and finished 17 of 20 through the air to lead the UTSA offense to a 359-yard output. The junior quarterback’s favorite target was Franklin, who hauled in seven passes for 79 yards and the one TD. Brennon Dingle had four catches for 60 yards and a score, Joshua Cephus had four for 58 and Leroy Watson caught three for 49.
Charles Wiley posted six tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, and one quarterback pressure, while Antonio Parks and Kelechi Nwachuku had seven stops apiece.
Trailing 14-3 at the half, UTSA marched 56 yards in 10 plays on the opening drive of the third quarter before settling for a 36-yard field goal by Duplessis, which extended his FBS-best streak of consecutive field goals made to 20. Narcisse completed 4 of 5 passes for 61 yards on the drive, including two for 41 yards to Watson, the senior tight end.
BYU responded late in the third when Wilson scored on a 4-yard keeper around the right end. Justen Smith’s extra point gave the home team a 21-6 advantage, but UTSA would not go away in the final 15 minutes.
BYU racked up 470 yards, including 178 on the ground, and kept the ball for 33:02. Dax Milne led the receivers with seven receptions for 102 yards, while Gunner Romney had four for 80.
The UTSA defense came up big on BYU’s first two possessions. Corey Mayfield Jr. stripped the ball loose from Neil Pau’u and Dadrian Taylor recovered at the Roadrunners’ 10-yard line to thwart the first drive. UTSA forced a turnover on downs on the ensuing Cougars possession and that helped lead to a 39-yard field goal by Duplessis to give the visitors a 3-0 lead at the 4:55 mark of the opening quarter.
BYU took a 7-3 lead after Pau’u hauled in a 4-yard pass in the back corner of the end zone on fourth down early in the second stanza.
The Cougars extended their lead to 14-3 later in the quarter when Wilson hit Lopini Katoa on a screen pass over the middle that resulted in an 11-yard touchdown.
The Roadrunners will return home to host Army (4-1) next Saturday, Oct. 17. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at the Alamodome and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.